“We’re going to wait and see.” That’s been a common response that I’ve run into whenever the name PlayStation Vita comes up in conversation with anyone outside of Sony. Is it good business sense? Sure, whenever you’re talking about new hardware you always run the risk of things not working out as planned, and for that very reason third party developers can’t always justify jumping in blindly based on Sony’s good graces.
On the other hand though, why are those same developers already banking on “innovative” Wii U ideas with little, but more often zero, mention of the Vita?
I’ll admit, like the others in attendance I too was initially impressed by Nintendo’s showing as I sat in the Nokia Theater during E3 last year. Also, like everyone else, the purpose of the device was –for the most part — demystified when I saw that the Vita could handle pretty much all (if not more) of the same applications and uses.
Since then I’ve wondered how these new toys would be put to use by all of the third party developers or if they would cater to one over the other. From the looks of it so far that’s exactly what’s starting to happen.
Now this isn’t meant to stir up gloom and doom talk for the Vita — as matter of fact I happen to be a huge advocate of the handheld in case you couldn’t tell — but two major publishers have already overlooked the handheld in favor of the Wii U. The first is THQ, which, during Nintendo’s E3 presentation last year, emphasized the use of the Wii U’s “unique” play experience in Darksiders II.
THQ Executive VP Danny Bilson never got into details during Nintendo’s core game montage but some afterwards in an interview with GameInformer, Vigil Games Technical Director Colin Bonstead did, citing “with its controller, [the Wii U version of Darksiders II] might be the best version of the game.”
With that said, one cannot overlook the fact that the game is launching this summer and there hasn’t been a peep (and there probably won’t be) about any second screen functionality coming to the readily available Vita.
Another publisher who’s riding the Wii U gravy train is Ubisoft. At the Nintendo booth at E3 last year, attendees had the chance to get some time with a Wii U Ghost Recon tech demo showing off the new controller’s second screen functionality. In less than 60 days, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier will be out on the HD consoles, and have we heard about any additional functionality besides it being “better with Kinect”? Nope.
Assassin’s Creed III is another Ubisoft game receiving tons of press as of late. What’s more interesting is the recent list of Wii U-specific features revealed in this month’s Nintendo Power, which include persistent map, navigation tools and touchscreen controlled animus notifications. When skimming down the list of extras, not one item stands out as something that can’t be done on the Vita, and this is where the problem lies.
I’m not trying to go on some pro-Vita crusade here, but there is terrible hypocrisy in this whole “wait and see” mentality from third party publishers. The Vita is something that is readily available to consumers, with developer kits being out for over a year. The Wii U doesn’t even have a release date yet.
We can’t say that all developers are ignoring its potential, as some — when talking about the PS3 and Vita combination — have said “You can do everything with that combo that you can with the Wii U, and more.” But if there are folks who believe in the functionality, why aren’t we seeing or hearing anything about it outside of Sony’s walls?
I understand the reality that being a Nintendo console alone will help the Wii U capture the same magic as its predecessor. It is to sell units hand over fist. The question is: will it sell to the gamer who is looking to play games like Darksiders II, Ghost Recon, or Assassin’s Creed III on a Wii U and, if not, why are developers and publishers going the extra mile for hardware that hasn’t proven itself?
We’re still a few months away from E3 2012, where I hope this issue will be put to rest. Judging from what I’m seeing so far though, I won’t be holding my breath until then.