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Opinion: PS Vita TV poised to shake up the 'microconsole' race Exclusive
Opinion: PS Vita TV poised to shake up the 'microconsole' race
September 9, 2013 | By Mike Rose

September 9, 2013 | By Mike Rose
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    27 comments
More: Console/PC, Indie, Business/Marketing, Exclusive



With the rise of the low-price, plug-in-and-play "microconsole," we've all been wondering which company is going to emerge victorious. Will the Ouya come out on top? Will GameStick rise to the occasion? Maybe Apple, Google, Amazon et al might blow the competition away.

No-one could have expected that Sony would be a contender, especially when the company has its own PlayStation 4 launch to deal with. And yet this morning, a microconsole is exactly what Sony revealed.

Microconsoles are a new form of compact games console, sold as a ready-to-go, plug-in-and-play console that gives the user a "10-foot" couch- and TV-friendly experience. These sorts of new breed of console usually have some form of app store to connect with as well.

The PS Vita TV is essentially a cheap, home console version of Sony's Vita handheld. You can take this tiny box, plug it into your TV, and then play PS Vita games, PSP games and select PS One games without the need for a PS Vita handheld.

There's a few fairly remarkable points to note about this device. First off, at around $100 it's inexpensive, especially compared to the Vita handheld, other games consoles, and even other microconsoles.

Of course, you'll have to factor the price of a DualShock controller or two into that equation, but realistically, a good portion of the people looking to purchase one of these boxes are going to already own at least one controller. This puts the PS Vita TV in line with the price of an Ouya.

Now consider that the box will have available over 1,000 titles across PS Vita, PSP and PS One at launch. Notably, many of the Vita games that rely on the touch-screen will apparently not be supported, Sony says, and a large portion of the overall total will be PSP and PS One titles -- but the company still puts the total games supported by the box at over 1,300.

No matter how you look at it, in comparison to other microconsoles on the way and currently available, that's a rather hefty number of titles to be dishing out at launch.

ps vita tv 1.jpgAnd then there's the console's power. The PS Vita TV will adopt the chipsets and system software of the PS Vita, including the ARM Cortex-A9 core (4core) CPU and IMG
SGX543MP4+ GPU -- meaning that straight off the bat, it'll be the most powerful microconsole available (though you can expect regular hardware updates from the Android mobile-based competition).

The main issues with microconsoles such as the Ouya up to this point have revolved around a lack of games, and limitations to the potential power that developers can utilizes. With the PS Vita TV, Sony may well have all these bases covered.

And where other Android-powered microconsoles have been criticized for essentially offering what the majority of smartphones can already provide, the PS Vita TV will offer not only what the PS Vita currently offers, but potentially also PlayStation Mobile, Sony's own Android platform.

PS Mobile allows developers to sign up and launch their Android games via the platform for free. If PS Mobile is also supported, as per a regular PS Vita, then not only has Sony just launched its own PlayStation microconsole, but it's also just launched its own Android-OS console in the same breath.

Of course, Sony has another trick up its sleeve too -- the hordes of indie developers that it has brought on-board. I said earlier this year that Sony was building an indie army for its PS4, and now it comes to light that this was only half the truth.

Sony is about to launch a cheap microconsole, that is relatively cheap and easy to develop for, with numerous indie devs no doubt clambering to be a part of. The Ouya, the GameStick et al have been positioning themselves as "the indie game console", but the PS Vita TV may well swoop in and steal the title with relative ease.


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Comments


K Gadd
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Mike, are you sure PlayStation Mobile games will work on the PS Vita TV? Did you ask a Sony rep and get told yes? There are reasons to assume they might not...

Mike Rose
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Hey K,

I was just clarifying that as your comment landed actually! You're right that Sony hasn't confirmed PS Mobile as being part of PS Vita TV yet - I've contacted Sony for confirmation, so hopefully I'll know soon.

Cheers
Mike

Mike Rose
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An update on this: Sony has told me, "I'm afraid we don't have any further information on PS Vita TV other than what was released this morning."

Which obviously isn't very useful! Hopefully there will be more details soon.

Mike

K Gadd
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Thanks for reaching out, Mike! Hopefully we'll get the answer in the future.

James Coote
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Moreover if this thing works out well, you can guarantee the next step is integrating it (as a streaming box as much as anything else) into Sony TVs

Kujel s
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I'm still much more interested in Ouya, and the forth coming microconsoles from Goolge and Amazon.

Ian Fisch
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The problem with Android microconsoles like Ouya is that they're mainly relying on ports of Android games - which were designed for touch screens.

Sony's console will support games actually designed to play with a gamepad.

Kujel s
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@ Ian Microconsoles don't actually rely on android ports, they rely on good games. Most of the good games for microconsoles were always better with gamepad support or were never made for moblie in the first place.

Kyle Redd
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This editorial misses one major disadvantage Sony has that competing consoles largely do not - zero competition on game prices. If you want to play any PSP or PS One game on the Vita TV, you have no choice but to pay whatever Sony is charging. And, as anyone who has browsed the classics section of the Playstation Store knows, almost all of the titles in those categories are very overpriced. They also almost never go on sale, especially PS One games.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Sean Sang
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It's an interesting move by Sony. Instead of waiting to see if there is a market for micro-consoles they are jumping right in with the others to be one of the first choices. This could very well move the Ouya and game stick to be mostly indie dev hobbyist consoles while the Vita Tv could take the rest of the gamers market if there is indeed a market for micro-consoles - only time will tell.

Bob Johnson
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WAke up me when there is actually a market for "micro-consoles."

The media has this bad habit of devoting too much time to products whose chances of selling well enough are highly dubious.

Sean Sang
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I do agree with you but sometimes it takes a brave company to create a market. I never thought there was a market for tablets but I was proven so very wrong. What the micro consoles have going for them is they are affordable and have a small foot print.

Bob Johnson
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@Sean

Sometimes it takes a brave person to stand up and tell everybody what they already know..... That these things have next to no chance in the marketplace.

A rock is even more affordable and has the same footprint and makes a better paper weight.

Bob Charone
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You mean like handheld game consoles that can't make phone calls? Smartphones and tablets were niche markets until a major company (Apple) introduced desireble versions of them.

edwin zeng
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Unfortunately, this continues to be utterly useless as their PSM license applications are selectively available for only certain countries.

Bob Charone
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Its available in Europe and US, the main indie game producing regions...

edwin zeng
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There are countries in Europe that do not even have access. And you put it as if that only US and Europe are the only indie developers. People like you are the kind that I do not respect.

Scott Lavigne
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The video shows a Dualshock 3 being used, but they've completely avoided mentioning PS3 as far as I can tell. Any word on this?

Jarod Smiley
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It's just using a PS3 controller, but the device is for playing PSP/PSVita/PS2 games...Many expect PS mobile will be available as well...and since it has remote play for PS4, DS4 compatibility is likely to come as well...

Hey, I'm not sure if it's gonna sell or not, but I like the effort, design, and price-point, and it could be a market for it. Kudos to Sony for trying something different.

Kenneth Bruton
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My question is: If you have PS VITA TV and a PS VITA, can you use the Vita as a controller (and for the touch screen aspects)?

Jarod Smiley
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No clarification on it yet...^

Kevin Clough
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I think this box was designed more around streaming video content and the gaming aspect is just an add-on benefit. Once they bring all of the existing PS3 video apps over to Vita and add in the ones being developed for PS4 and then add in the cable TV deals they are working on, they are going to have a beefy streaming box that can also play games. The fact that this will also be a PS4 extender is also going to sell a lot of units.

The added benefit is that every streaming app or game made for the Vita TV will just bolster the library that is also available for Vita owners.

Daniel Boy
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Sony: For the US launch please include PS3/Gaikai streaming and you'll have a winner.

Mario Kummer
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Interesting. I think I have to buy one, too bad that it is not included in the PS4. I don't like Handhelds, I almost always play them at home and buy them for certain games I want to play.

Sonys PSN+ is a great service I already acquired a lot of Vita games and I knew I would have to buy one sooner or later. I think I will buy this instead.

Leon T
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Sony cant hang in the dedicated handheld market so they make a silly attempt to run to a market that no one currently cares about. If there is a lot of cross play games between the Vita and PS4 I will just need a Vita TV to play those games. This might be a hit in Japan but they already barely care about most Vita games but at least Sony can milk the current userbase more.

Jarod Smiley
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Sony should really just put this in there TV's though no? If they're selling it for $100, they have to making a good $15-$25 bucks a unit right.

Sony's Vita TV. Vita in your TV...

whatever, I'm sure the marketing ppl can come up with something, but yeah, I would like to see this in the next Sony Bravia line or something, Samsung is killing everyone (dunno why see no difference between it and Sony TV's quality wise) and having your TV/game concole in one could be the gamer's choice TV if marketed well...


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