When the PlayStation Vita’s relatively low price point was unveiled at E3 2011, many were surprised that such a technologically sound handheld could launch for so cheap, especially when compared to its at-the-time-similarly-priced-competitor in the Nintendo 3DS. A handheld with near PS3 graphics and quality games for as little at 249.99? Sounds like a dream come true, except for one catch. Expensive memory cards.
In order to keep costs down Sony had to sacrifice certain aspects of the Vita, namely, internal memory. Like with the PSP, Sony will be manufacturing propriety memory cards for the PS Vita, though the costs are staggering and you will be ripped off. There are four different memory cards, each with their own ridiculous prices:
- 4GB Card – 2,200yen/$29,
- 8GB Card – 3,200yen/$42
- 16GB Card – 5,500yen/$72
- 32GB Card – 9,500yen/$124
With Sony promising that digital versions of PSP titles will be able to be played on the Vita, as well as taking a more aggressive stance in digital distribution, it is shocking that Sony would charge so much for the memory cards. The price point will be a significant barrier of entry if Sony is attempting to push digital distribution with the handheld.
On a more positive note, Sony has also heard the pleas of gamers agitated by lengthy firmware updates. While PS3 updates are nowhere as tedious as they used to be, they can still impede many just trying to play a quick game or two.
“It’s very annoying when you only have one hour in your busy life to play a game, and when you have to spend thirty minutes out of that one hour to update the hardware, so it’s not necessarily the frequency of how we update, it’s the intrusiveness of the current process we have on PS3 and PSP. I cannot talk about specific plans, but we are very aware of the issues, and we’d like to address those issues on PS Vita.”
The above quote comes from Shuhei Yoshida, Sony’s President of Worldwide Studios, also known as the man who doesn’t recommend importing the Vita. Yoshida has always been very transparent in the past when discussing Sony’s mistakes, so hopefully Sony is taking an active stance when attempting to cut down the amount of time it takes to update the Vita.
The Vita has a lot of good going for it: a great line up of games, impressive hardware and the bonus that it is region free; it would be a shame if the memory card issue were to be a huge detriment to the system’s success. Hopefully Sony will lower memory card prices by the time the handheld leaves Japan.
The PlayStation Vita will release in Japan on December 17th, 2011, word of a North American or European release date will come “soon,” according to Sony.
Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyMole