The PS Vita's future lies with the indies and the niche

by Nathan Misa Featured 26 Comments 18 Votes 6102 Views 01/07/2013 Back to Articles

It’s been nearly 18 months since the PlayStation Vita was released. While the future isn’t exactly grim, it’s hard not to deny the handheld’s growth has been stunted from a lack of consistent releases. The compelling, “must-play” first and third-party software is, indeed, available — LittleBigPlanet Vita, Persona 4: Golden, Soul Sacrifice, Uncharted: Golden Abyss — but for many, it’s not enough and the infrequency of releases have left gamers cold.

With the PS4 on the horizon, most of Sony’s first-party efforts have naturally begun to shift towards its next home console. We saw that at E3. Sony’s confirmation of the Vita’s ‘Remote Play’ feature supporting all PS4 titles as a mandatory requirement is an exciting one, but it’s not something that can drive sales or keep the platform viable on its own. Neither is reliance on third-party support for Vita heavy-hitters after both an Assassin's Creed and Call of Duty exclusive couldn’t push hardware sales or result in decent games.

Thankfully, some first-party studios are still committed, with Killzone: Mercenary and Tearaway in the pipeline, and there’s sure to be more Sony-centric game announcements soon. But these kinds of titles and their long development time won’t keep the system afloat on their own, and Sony has recognised that. Whether you like it or not, the Vita’s future lies with the indies and the niche.

It’s no secret that Sony loves indie developers. Some of the most unique console indie experiences can be found on the PlayStation 3 — Journey and Flower to name a few — and for the last few months, the Vita has also become a haven for indie experiences to flourish and reach audiences they never would before — the traditional console and/or handheld crowd that don’t game on PC or mobiles.

The dedicated indie section on PS3 has been there for months, but the new indie section for PS Vita debuted on the U.S. PSN store last week, with the newest banner's tag-line stating: "PS Vita: Your Home For Indie Games" giving away their new shift, in case you hadn't already noticed. Hotline Miami has lead the first big wave of releases for the second half of this year, and many more, as detailed in the video above, will follow.

Sony's Shahid Kamal Ahmad is the man to thank for the Vita's upcoming wave of indie support, and I have extreme respect for the guy. Ahmad is credited with signing Hotline Miami, Lone Survivor, Men's Room Mayhem and Velocity Ultra to the Vita (to name a few), and has almost single-handedly ensured the Vita isn't suffering a completely dry-spell of games while upholding the platform's reputation as a place for imaginative, innovative titles that match the LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway efforts of Sony themselves.

Even if you don't buy or like indie, the amount of titles on the way collectively continue to shape the Vita into a very promising, enticing purchase. They won't be system sellers on their own, no, but so long as they keep on coming, Sony doesn't have to risk too much money, existing Vita owners will have plenty to play, and potential owners will only see a flood of game releases they need to play.

Whether you like it or not, the Vita’s future lies with the indies and the niche.

There’s still the big, first-party hits on the way in the form of Killzone: Mercenary and Tearaway for those unwilling or not interested and instead want the original tag-line of "console experiences on the go" to play their Vita by. But instead of being left for months on end without one of Sony's major in-house releases to play, the indies have the chance to fill the massive games gap, gain the spotlight on another viable platform and gain wider exposure to gamers like me who would have otherwise missed out on the brilliant, ultra-violent gunplay of Hotline Miami or beautiful simplicity of Thomas Was Alone.

The Vita's impressive hardware specs are still there, too, and if the constant support and success of unique efforts such as the PS3/PS Vita indie exclusive, Guacamelee continue, there could be encouragement for other studios to take advantage of the system for some new Vita exclusives.

And let's not forget what Sony's always been great at providing: the niche, JRPG or otherwise Japanese titles most of us who bought a Vita for will buy. Muramasa Rebirth just released in the U.S., the intriguing Freedom Wars was announced by Sony Japan last month, Vanillaware's Dragon's Crown is looking superb, Gust Co.'s Chronos Materia was just announced, and the HD remaster of Final Fantasy X and X-2 are on their way. These are just some of the upcoming JRPGs that will be readily available to Vita owners, especially considering there's no pesky region-lock if you can't wait for a PAL release.

With Sony recently announcing that Gamescom will be "a Vita show", don’t be surprised to find that the majority of the 50 or so games promised will be from indie developers. The indies and the niche are — along with the occasional "mainstream" Sony exclusives — going to keep the Vita afloat for the foreseeable future.

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The PS Vita's future lies with the indies and the niche Comments

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Tano
+
I definitely agree, although my concern with the indie market and self-publishing platform is quality control, or lack thereof.

I hope it doesn't open the door to iOS-like publishing where great games are buried by cheap crap, although Sony would be crazy to let that happen.
If it does, mine will only be used as a control add on for PS4, I don't play indie games. Never have, never will.
I don't use Vita ever.

I might play Hotline Miami though. That's awesome on PC.

chucky110 said: If it does, mine will only be used as a control add on for PS4, I don't play indie games. Never have, never will.



You're missing out man! There's some great titles out there, you just gotta take a leap of faith sometimes. Admittedly, not all of the ones available currently on the PSN store have resonated with me, but I've really enjoyed Hotline Miami, Thomas Was Alone, and Velocity Ultra. I can't wait for Lone Survivor in particular to release on Vita.
the only problem with indie games is they are usually quite short. although they are cheap which is good.

I do prefer big titles tho

Gryllis said: I don't use Vita ever.
I might play Hotline Miami though. That's awesome on PC.


You're missing out on the best portable gaming console ever.
The PS Ouya!
Pretty disappointing. I bought a vita because i heard it would be a JRPG machine. Not a crappy indie console. No one wants one of those. I might sell mine soon if no mainstream games are announced soon.
I'd love it if Vita indie games launch day to date with other platforms, (though obviously this will require PS3/PS4 certification aswell if they're multiplatform) that's the one thing in the indie focus that's lacking for me, hopefully that changes over time though.

Dusty Lids said: Pretty disappointing. I bought a vita because i heard it would be a JRPG machine.

There are a few JRPG's coming to it.

Tano said: I definitely agree, although my concern with the indie market and self-publishing platform is quality control, or lack thereof.
I hope it doesn't open the door to iOS-like publishing where great games are buried by cheap crap, although Sony would be crazy to let that happen.

Everything's been pretty good and consistent when it comes to advertising new games.

If there's a new indie game out It'll get highlighted on the Vita store pretty clearly, they don't get shoved to the side for other software, I really don't think it'll get as crowded as the iOS marketplace.

With that said though Sony really need to work on Playstation Mobile. There's some great titles on there that don't get marketed unless you're in the Playstation Mobile section, they need a bit more recognition/advertising on the Vita.
im still getting one, just dont have the money atm.. probs tax time.. i love indie games and littlebigplanet which is why im buying it ^_^
I have seen Indie games and none of them have interested me enough to want to put money down for them, even this Hotline Miami doesn't interest me at all

chucky110 said: I have seen Indie games and none of them have interested me enough to want to put money down for them, even this Hotline Miami doesn't interest me at all



Hotline Miami i have to admit is ****ing awesome!
Did Minecraft never interest you? i'm not a big fan of indie games on the whole, i find them too short, boring and hugely stuck in the 80s and 90s but there are a couple of gems.
i played one indie game thats over 20 hours.. called Lucius.. R rated.. best horror game i have played in years.. 3D point and click.. [Derp]

Dusty Lids said: Pretty disappointing. I bought a vita because i heard it would be a JRPG machine. Not a crappy indie console. No one wants one of those. I might sell mine soon if no mainstream games are announced soon.



It is a JRPG machine, as I mentioned above. There are plenty to play and plenty more on the way. Since when were the majority of JRPGs considered "mainstream" anyway?

I do feel bad for those who own the Vita and who want the big blockbuster kind of titles that we got in the beginning, like Uncharted: Golden Abyss. The wait between these kinds of titles just seems to be getting longer and longer because the whole console gaming on the go thing just hasn't worked.

M@ndyz said: i played one indie game thats over 20 hours.. called Lucius.. R rated.. best horror game i have played in years.. 3D point and click..



What is this? I love my point and click horrors. Thanks for heads up will check this out.

OllyEbbz said:

chucky110 said: I have seen Indie games and none of them have interested me enough to want to put money down for them, even this Hotline Miami doesn't interest me at all


Hotline Miami i have to admit is ****ing awesome!
Did Minecraft never interest you? i'm not a big fan of indie games on the whole, i find them too short, boring and hugely stuck in the 80s and 90s but there are a couple of gems.


Could not stand minecraft at all, couldn't stand looking at the squares. If this does become an indies only console, sony better have some use for it on the PS4 otherwise I won't be playing it much at all
You're talking like Indie is a genre.

No I'm not

chucky110 said: I have seen Indie games and none of them have interested me enough to want to put money down for them


Really?
Because that sounds like it to me.
Well that's your problem for taking it that way. I do know Indie is not a genre.
I have a vita and quite enjoy it. I play it a lot and have quite a few games for it. Admittedly it doesn't have the amount of games that appeal to me currently like I thought it would by now sadly. I do though have a dozen or so vita games and I've rarely used it to play indie games though I do plan to try some soon. Hopefully it can move forward catering to indie games as well as the more "mainstream" games.
I have enough awesome games on Vita that I play on a daily, which in my mind makes me feel satisfied.
there are some fantastic indie games out there some people just see the plain ones or unappealing ones and think all indie games are that, which is not the case, there are some fantastic indie game out there just have to shiv through the crap
@Silvon - It just needs more time, like the 3DS did. These triple A games everyone's expecting take heaps of development time, and with the PS4 on the way most of Sony's studios are probably focusing on that.

@PlayStation - What games do you play on the Vita atm? I'm currently going through Persona 4: Golden, Soul Sacrifice and Hotline Miami.

@Tj866 - People just need to give them a go rather than categorise them all as "just indie". There's so many great gems out there developed not just by long established studios.
Silent Hill: Book of Memories
Demon Gaze
Dead or Alive 5 Plus
Next Revolution
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 +
Demon Gaze is getting localised for next year, so I'll pick that up then. And I was going to play NGS2+ once I finished the first one off PS Plus+.

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