Borderlands 2 can help the PS Vita regain third-party confidence

by Nathan Misa Featured 5 Comments 16 Votes 2590 Views 21/08/2013 Back to Articles

Sony’s conference at Gamescom 2013 is done and dusted, and in terms of PlayStation Vita announcements, fans have some awesome hardware price drops and plenty of games to look forward to in the near future. But while there was some great news, there was a notable lack of IP announcements outside of the indie realm, as I previously predicted.

While I’m personally happy with what’s on the horizon, there’s no denying indie games aren’t every gamer’s cup of tea. The PS Vita is still struggling to establish its identity, seemingly stuck between its original conceptualisation as the handheld for ‘console experiences on the go’ and its newer image as the indie and niche-friendly games machine.

The Vita currently supports the best of both worlds, but it’d be a hard case to argue that the majority of early adopters and the more casual buyers out there didn’t buy the graphically powerful Vita with the former impression.

Perhaps the one true surprise announcement was that Borderlands 2 is making its way onto the PlayStation Vita. While it’s a port of an existing console game, it’s a ridiculously huge third-party property at that, one that has sold millions, and one that isn’t an indie title. Could Borderlands 2 be the leading example the Vita needs to regain consistent third-party support for the handheld?

Looting and shooting RPG on the go: who the hell wouldn't want to?

Yes, I think so. Since the mediocre to disastrous reception of Assassin's Creed III: Liberation and Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified late last year, third-party support for the Vita from the major publishers has lessened noticeably. And I don’t blame the developers and publishers: if an Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty title — Vita exclusive versions, mind you — couldn't sell well enough, what can?

Liberation was exactly terrible, but it was hard to play without thinking it was definitely a watered down handheld Assassin’s Creed rather than a unique experience which could match its console brethren. And don’t even get me started on Black Ops Declassified, a lazy spin-off with terrible gameplay and a true lack of content.

As I’ve said before, recognisable names and experiences shift copies. Both Liberation and Black Ops Declassified sold off their names alone, but that didn't stop gamers from realising they both weren't essential exclusive experiences.

Borderlands 2 is a big brand and a big draw for the Vita, and this time, Sony needs to handle this third-party title properly, because the big name trick only sells and works so many times.

It is apparent that this time around Sony are serious about the success of the port, as SCE (Sony Computer Entertainment) are confirmed as the publishers. If they and Iron Galaxy Studios handle the port well and nothing content-wise is lost in the transition to the handheld version, 2K and Gearbox can lead by example and convince other major developers and publishers to consider PS Vita versions of their future multiplatform releases.

This is the first, small step back to stability for the Vita, and for Sony to regain the confidence of third-party publishers and remind them that the Vita can handle these graphically demanding games without concessions, and that there is a market for them.

As noted by Gearbox in the announcement, there were thousands of fans tweeting and emailing them for the port since last year. The Vita can provide for the gamers wanting those big name games, too, and the fans are constantly vocalising that.

It may not be the all-new IP many hoped would be announced at Gamescom 2013, but that all comes later. If Borderlands 2 on the Vita is of quality and the fans support the port, third-party support will surely be reinvigorated and we can expect better and more frequent versions of our favourite multiplatform games, on-the-go, and hopefully from there, some third-party Vita exclusives that aren’t the same sort of embarrassing rushed mess as Black Ops Declassified mixed in with the Sony's stellar first-party efforts that we know are always on the horizon.

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Borderlands 2 can help the PS Vita regain third-party confidence Comments

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This is way way too optimistic on reviving 3rd party support, a port months from its original release (which there's a good chance Sony had a big hand in funding due to them publishing it) when the game isn't as relevant wont do as much as you think.

I'll admit it'll be interesting to see how it holds up to its console counterparts though.

if an Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty title — Vita exclusive versions, mind you — couldn't sell well enough, what can?

Ubisoft are quite happy with Liberations sales and I think Black Ops Declassified sold decently despite it being a rushed game.

Black Ops Declassified, a lazy port with terrible gameplay and a true lack of content.

Not a port, it was an original title (spin-off) which was rushed and given to Nihilistic.
SCE are the publisher so there's no doubt Sony specifically are taking Borderlands 2 under their wing. And yes, seeing how the Vita runs it in comparison to its console counterparts is what I think will be another crucial point as to whether or not the Vita can truly re-sell the whole "console experience on handheld" mantra to the third-party publishers.

And I used some wrong terms there, you're right -- Declassified was a spin-off of Black Ops 2 that was rushed and terrible and shamelessly used the Call of Duty brand to sell itself. And the sales were probably enough to satisfy Ubisoft, but there's no way both games moved enough hardware or instilled enough confidence in future third-party efforts -- that's why we're not hearing of or getting COD: Ghosts spin-off or AC IV spin-off on the Vita anytime this year or probably into the next.

Bit optimistic, sure, but I still do hope Borderlands 2 and its transition to the Vita goes smoothly and does influence things in the third-party arena. You need to be more hopeful, damnit! :P

Tsunamo said: This is way way too optimistic on reviving 3rd party support, a port months from its original release (which there's a good chance Sony had a big hand in funding due to them publishing it) when the game isn't as relevant wont do as much as you think.



Not really. The Vita's main problem is lack of titles to drive sales. This is a big title, and it will either do one of two things: drive sales, or do nothing (which is the norm on Vita at the moment).

You're disregarding a lot of factors that will bring the Vita into light, as well, but that's a different issue altogether.


Borderlands 2 won't push sales.
Remember i said that when it's been out a while.
Iron Galaxy Studios, not a studio known for great ports and no input from Gearbox? no exclusive content? and i'd guess considering the size of everything no DLC?
No one is gonna buy this to play it on a fiddly little device (Sony so need to redesign the Vita, bigger buttons, better sticks) when they can get the better looking full package on PC and consoles.

What would push Vita sales are exclusives, even Sony themselves arn't wasting much time on that front.

A Borderlands 'portable edition' would have had more chance at pushing systems with levels, gags and comedy aimed at portable gaming, a new adventure. A port though? if it stood a chance i'm sure Randy Pitchfraud would be on board as he loves his money!
I totally agree with the above comments. Most vita owners are people who own a sony console and likely have ps+, and borderlands 2 is free with plus so why would people pay for it just to play it on the go?

Unless the vita gets a new ip that "people just have to play" the only people that will be buying are people wanting remote play.

If PlayStation Now actually takes off (I assume the launch will be shakey then iron out in a year or so) people may buy a vita, especially if they gave a Now promotion with it and assuming they dont have a sony phone and a dual shock 3.

However anyone with a dual shock 3 will eventually be able to play now on any smart mobile device, thus hurting potential vita sales. Sony themselves said don't count on a ps5 because PlayStation is headed towards being a service only, like steam. With comments like that it is not surprising they aren't showing too much effort in getting new ips for the handheld.

Now could potentially really help the vita or kill it (2 shoulders buttons makes it inferior to a DS3 mobile setup.) Lets also not forget sony as a company isn't in the best of shape right now, closing all kinds of branches just to stay a float. So they can't be stretched too thin; but with the success of the ps4, the rise in remote play, and the ergonomical redesign with a longer lasting battery life of the slim it could be all that's needed to boost sales enough to get third party support. More consoles owned always equals more dev support. Well till bastards start pirating everything (which is what killed the 3rd party support for psp and eventually the ds)

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