It’s that time of year again… When the entire video games industry gathers together in an attempt to show us their latest and upcoming products and to entice us into opening up our wallets in the near future to but whatever games and new hardware that the manufacturers, publishers and developers are all eager to show us. It’s all rather exciting stuff as a gamer, but not so much if you’re a PS Vita owner. While there is usually plenty of news and excitement surrounding almost every major platform over the course of the duration of the E3 show, there is often very little to whet the apetite of Vita owners. The console is often only mentioned in passing, very few – if any – new exclusive games are announced and those titles that are confirmed are usually multi-format or games being released for the PS3 or PS4 and the Vita is only covered as it is taking advantage of Cross Buy. So is E3 relevant to Vita owners any more?
For the last couple of years we have made our predictions in the run up to each show and then waited with baited breath to see what announcements were going to be made. What major developers were going to commit their resources to bring their latest AAA titles to the PS Vita? Was Sony going to announce a brand new IP for the handheld? Were we set to see a sizeable price drop for both the console and its memory cards that would put the Vita on a level playing field against the 3DS? Or, as is usually the case, would the PS Vita be sidelined to smaller developers showing love for the machine while Sony focuses more on the PS4, PlayStation Now and Morpheus?
It’s understandable that Sony – with limited resources – want to maximise their marketing budget at an event like E3 on the products that they believe will not only generate the most long-term income for the technology giant but also garner the most coverage by the media but time after time this has come at the expense of their loyal userbase. It’s a strange choice for the company to make. Even though the PS4 has sold double the number of units that the PS Vita has globally already in its lifetime, the PS Vita still has a relatively healthy audience out there. There are fast approaching 11 million PS Vita owners globally, all hungry for new games. The release and announcement of each and every new Vita game is celebrated and welcomed and with the larger proportion of PS Vita games that are sold digitally in comparison to PS4 titles, Vita owners are more likely to purchase more games for their console than their PS4 owning counterparts. Indie developers know this and are eager to support the handheld system and it’s no wonder that so many developers are eager to take advantage of Cross Buy with their games to further sales but from the point of view of a show like E3, indie games are not what draws the paying public.
Looking more closely at E3, it’s easy for game announcements for the Vita to be lost amidst all of the big events and keynote presentations from the major players in attendance. The eyes of the world will be on Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Square Enix and numerous others with the press hanging on their every word with much of the mainstream gaming press having very little time to concentrate on what is happening surrounding what many see as being a struggling console. No matter what games are announced for the Vita – whether it is by Sony or any other publisher, in all likelihood the Vita versions of multiformat titles will be mentioned as an afterthought or if we are truly lucky the Vita will get a few minutes as part of Sony’s keynote speech.
But at this time of year, people seem for forget all too easily that the games industry doesn’t revolve around E3. Every website, us included, will be reporting news as it happens from the show and trying to cover as much as we can relating to the Vita but just looking at Vita Player or any other news site recently and you’ll see that there is certainly no shortage of news or new game announcements in relation to our favourite handheld.
Just in the last week we have been treated to news of several new localised versions of Japanese games on the way courtesy of XSEED, more games coming from Curve Digital, the big news regarding the confirmation of the PS Vita version of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night from Koji Igarashi, and Super Meat Boy to name but a few and there are fresh games being announced almost daily for the Vita. As PS Vita owners, we don’t need to wait for a major games show to come around before we get announcements of new games coming out because there is news flowing on a regular basis and that’s the great thing about being a Vita owner.
As much as E3 is great for the games industry and those who attend, as a show it’s no longer something that is the most important part of the Vita’s calendar and a lack of announcements certainly isn’t anything to be worried about. If anything, I’m certain that there will be more than enough games confirmed or announced before, during and after E3 than any die-hard Vita owner could keep up with or find time to play.