PS Vita Games Are All Downloadable

Sony is putting on a big show at Gamescom 2011, starting with the announcement that the PS3 is getting another price drop and following up with an impressive listing of features on the upcoming PlayStation Vita.

Along with boasting dual analog sticks, allowing the Vita to play any sort of game available on home consoles – and working as a PS3 controller itself as a result – and sporting impressive graphics that look a generation ahead of the 3DS, the device will support key social networking features to keep up with the smartphone competition. So, not only should Vita players have a solid line-up of games to play near launch but they use it with Facebook, Twitter and foursqure. We know those apps will be downloadable for free through PSN, but now we know that every single Vita game will also be downloadable through the PlayStation Store.

While there may be some pressure to cut the retail price of the PS Vita before release – since the PS3 and 3DS are now cheaper – that’s not going to happen and seeing the latest news on the unit, Sony doesn’t need to (and shouldn’t) reduce the price. It’s all about value and where Nintendo’s latest handheld arguably failed to deliver on that front with its lack of games and features some expect from a modern day handheld, the Vita is doing everything it can to show why the Vita is a must-buy for gamers (and for Sega employees who say the Vita is “technically brilliant”).

The latest news, coming from Sony’s press conference this morning, that the format of Vita games will be all downloadable may be the first bit of contentious news for players since many still prefer the ability to own hard copies of their game library and to be able to borrow, trade and purchased used. We knew all along the device would not support UMD (like the original PSP) but it was previously reported that the Vita would utilize flash-memory storage as a way to purchase and play retail games. So, whether this leads to full retail games being only downloadable or not is something we’ll have to wait on, but it’s the inevitable end point of the path of digital distribution. It’s cheaper and helps deter piracy from the standpoint of developers.

Downloadable content, whether it be full games or additional content, is growing market, but having the option to buy games and then trade back, is important to many gamers. Some gamers still don’t have high-speed internet access that’s fast enough to take advantage of frequent and large downloads, but on the flipside, having one’s game library built-in to the console and not having to carry around small discs or cartridges is a checkmark in the portability and ease column.

What this also means it that the only PSP games that will be compatible with the unit are the ones made available in PSN. Video game prices for the platform haven’t been announced so we don’t know if there will be a price difference between downloadbles and retail versions.

Do you prefer downloadable games or retail hard copies?

The PS Vita releases in Japan this holiday season and in North America and Europe in early 2012.

Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.

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