We are less than two weeks away from the launch of PlayStation Vita in Japan. With its surprisingly reasonable price and solid lineup of launch games, the Vita has managed to generate a lot of good will -- with one major exception. No one is pleased by the system's shockingly expensive, proprietary memory cards.
In an effort to tone down the criticism, Sony has offered its reasons for pursuing a custom memory card solution with Vita, and at least one of those reasons should hit home for players affected by the PSN hack earlier in the year: security.
As a quick refresher course, memory cards for the PlayStation Vita will be initially available in four configurations: 4, 8, 16, and 32 GB, with the largest card coming in at a whopping $120.00 -- nearly half the price of the Wi-Fi only Vita. Even the smallest card will set players back $25 bucks, which sounds reasonable until one considers that a 4 GB SD card can be purchased from Amazon for about $6. So why didn't Sony go with an established format, when it appears to be working just fine for Nintendo and the 3DS?
In an interview with Japan's Munechika Nishida, translated by Andiasang, members of the Vita development staff (Sony Computer Entertainment Senior VP Yoshio Matsumoto, Division 2 Software Development Head Muneki Shimada, and Product Division Chief Hiromi Wakai) address the memory card issue.
Key to understanding Sony's point of view is that Vita's memory cards aren't just memory cards, but are "storage" for the system. In addition to game saves, the Vita memory cards will be used for "patches, game data, download content and more."
As a general storage solution for Vita, Sony's proprietary cards obviously need to be secure. After all, the system will connect with the PlayStation Network, and Sony can ill afford to endure another security breach. That said, the assembled developers do not elaborate on exactly how the new tech manages to be more secure than standard SD cards, or why it must necessarily be so much more expensive.
While some Vita games will require memory cards, others won't use them at all. However, what of the system itself? If the cards are indeed "storage" for Vita, will some system features not work without a card? A note on the packaging for the 3G Vita reads "Memory Required (Not Included)," though that may well be specifically for mobile services. In any case, we should know in less than two weeks.
Ranters, what do you think of Sony's reasons for developing custom Vita memory cards? Are they valid, or is this another case of Sony trying to control the format, just as they did with everything from UMD to Blu-ray?
The PlayStation Vita launches December 17, 2011, in Japan and February 22, 2012, in North America and Europe.
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