One of the most annoying things about modern consoles is the firmware update. I know of no gamer that enjoys sitting down to play a game, turning it on and being told that he must immediately download and install a firmware update. Sony has even found a way to make this process more painful by making most updates mandatory, slow and the only thing the console can do. Even with that track record, Sony has managed to make firmware updates even more annoying.
This past week has seen the launch of Sony’s new portable gaming system, the Vita. We have already discussed one of the more bizarre “features” of the Vita. So it really comes as no surprise that the latest unannounced feature is a day one firmware update. That’s right folks. As soon as you open that brand new Vita, you won’t be presented with the ability to play games until you take time to download and install updates. Why? Why was this not taken care of prior to launch?
What makes this even worse is that you cannot do anything with the Vita until the firmware is updated. As CheapyD from Cheap Ass Gamers found out, you cannot even tie your Vita to your PSN account until you download the update.
I pine for the days when a console worked right out of the box. When the console did not require an internet connection to function. Those were great days. Now is the time of Beta releases of games and consoles as if they were the final products. We are no longer customers but paying beta testers preparing the game for its “Greatest Hits” release, if it ever gets one. You would think that with all the money that game companies pour into these games and consoles they could afford a better development pipeline that can catch these issues earlier so that they can be fixed prior to launch.
If you thought you might get Sony’s new Vita handheld and share it with your family or friends, you are out of luck. Sony has told Wired that the Vita is designed with only one player in mind.
[The] PSN account is tied to the hardware and the memory card, not just the card, which means that if a second person is using your Vita, it’s not just a case of switching out memory cards, it’s clearing out all of your saved data on the Vita itself when you do the factory reset.
In other words, PlayStation Vita is intended to be played by only one user.
What in the world is Sony thinking? Are they really that dense to think that a father or mother would not buy one of these and share it with their kids or each other? Why would they think it is a good idea to limit the number of profiles to one? The PS3 supports more than one profile. Computers support more than one profile. Why not a handheld device? What this will do is limit the market for the device. I really don’t see anyone that has plans to share a device to buy one of these.
When Sony announced the PSP Vita, I got flashes of the PSPGo all over again. The Vita is the next handheld in Sony’s PSP line. Much like the PSPGo before it, the Vita will be downloadable games only. This in and of itself is not a horrible thing as it follows the trends in the handheld market to move away from disks and cartridges. What makes this bad is that Sony is continuing the illusion that it will somehow be backward compatible with the original PSP.
Just like the PSPGo, Sony is promising that owners of current PSP UMD based games will be able to transfer those games to a digital format that the Vita can play. This would pretty neat if it didn’t cost money. You see, if you want to transfer your games, you aren’t really transferring them. You are buying the digital version at a discount. That’s it. This will not get a lot of use out of PSP owners who would rather just jailbreak their current PSP and download the ROMs.
On top of all that, not all game developers are on board. Absent from the list of participating developers are the likes of Capcom, SquareEnix and Konami. These are the developers of the games people really want to play. Yet, they won’t be available for transfer. This is another strike against the transfer program. If these developers don’t feel confident in their ability to make extra money through this then why is Sony even doing it?
The answer is probably in some inane need to retain what semblance of backward compatibility they have remaining. But that is not really a reason to waste everyone’s time with a program that will most likely be scrapped in a year after launch. They probably would have had more success just following a Nintendo Virtual Machine style program where the downloadable versions of older games are already discounted to a point that most people wouldn’t think twice about buying their favorites. That would be a far better proposition and would probably get more developers and gamers on board.