PS_Vita_WhiteSony is now entering the TV gadget business.

Between Sony and Nintendo, the handheld market is like David vs. Goliath. Sony, the intrepid young competitor, and Nintendo, the giant monstrosity with which little can compete. It’s the sort of monopoly most companies dream of. But Sony has made ground against gaming’s behemoth. A growing association between consoles automatically pits Nintendo in a downward spiral, a position Sony readily finds itself in.

Platform merging is a growing trend; Microsoft and most of the major tech makers have made strides into it. Microsoft began this by integrating Xbox Live with the Windows Phone and Games for Windows Live, the latter of which has since been phased out. Sony started integrating PS3 and Vita even before its E3 conference; the “Cross-Buy” initiative gave access to the versions on both platforms.

But the Vita has disappointed. Largely nothing has worked, per Nintendo’s absolute dominance. So why not phase out the Vita completely?

Before the Tokyo Game Show, Sony unveiled “PS Vita TV“. The component barely larger than a deck of cards allows DualShock 3 access to Vita games on TV screens. Thus, removing the point of buying a Vita. The tiny device has a bunch of features: Vita memory card use, Hulu access, and to play classic games through the PS Store. It connects to PlayStation 4 as well.

Even when Sony showed off a redesigned Vita, it brings out a reason not to buy the handheld. If someone likes Vita games but has a console, what’s to stop them from buying the games exclusively? The company should be trying to elevate Vita, not alienate it. After all those cross-promotional features at E3, the Vita seemed like a viable machine. If you had a PS3, Sony had legitimized your purchase.

But this endorses the opposing idea. The Vita hasn’t dented Nintendo’s handheld sales. So by completely removing Vita from the equation, where does the platform stand in Sony’s long-term plan? Unless something is to come, this move makes little sense. There is no reason to purchase a Vita now unless you actually play the titles out in public.

It does, though, represent a greater shift in all of technology: the war for the living room. Game consoles have the digital side firmly planted, but as Google and Apple issue TV-capable devices aiming to destroy cable packages, it makes sense that gaming companies would want in on the action. The emphasis is on streaming and Internet browsing while being cheap and accessible.

The device launches in a limited run later this year to test the market, but only in Japan. If Sony intends to compete with Apple, this might be a mistake. Japanese consumers behave quite differently than their American counterparts; essentially, they could be more receptive to a native company’s tech. On the contrary, the American market has been the most competitive. It would be a better testing ground, even in a limited run.

This also paints an interesting scenario: So far, Microsoft has been seen as the gaming company most prone to the television market, after Halo The Television Series was announced. Could PS Vita TV change that attitude (and somewhat misguided hatred) towards Sony? The Japanese company has mostly been immune from criticism lately.

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  • coolasj

    okay. first off, my shift key is broken, screw capitals. second, the vtv ‘is’ a vita. everytime someone buys a vtv they just bought a vita minus the touchscreens and gyroscopes, which will be remedied when the ds4 is released and patched in. people that were interested in vita games minus the portability now have an out. not to mention this is pretty much sony’s entry into the smart tv and cheap game console market. not only did they kill 2 birds with one stone but, it just slots into their ecosystem without any further prepping.

    it’s hardly a mistake to challenge google [chromecast] or apple [apple tv] because not only is this not fundamentally the same product, it’s arguably better. not only does this stop the ouya in it’s tracks, it emulates ps1 and digital psp games, and then you can use it as a ps4 remote play relay from ‘anywhere’ you have internet. and there’s one more key to this that’s a killer app. sony’s internet tv apps coming to the system.

    tl;dr ; sorry about the shift key. no part of this machine is a bad idea.

    • JeffHeilig

      Except for the fact that Sony isn’t getting Vita hardware out there anymore. It wasn’t selling to begin with, and now it definitely won’t. By introducing this, has the company given up on the handheld?

      • coolasj

        Back to a real computer. If anything, this is Sony doubling down on the Vita. The VTV “IS” a Vita. The only thing that is different from the Vita and the Vita TV, is one has a screen and the other does not and supports DS3 and 4 controllers to make up for the lack of on board controls. If Sony was going to abandon the Vita it wouldn’t have included the ability to play physical Vita games.

        Now, where I will concede a point, is that it’s possible Sony is abandoning the poor, wretched, back touchpad. Considering how this isn’t coming stateside until after the PS4 launches, I really really think Sony will find someway to throw a DS4 into the bundle if it’s not too expensive. It’s not a 1:1 analogy but it’s similar to the 3DS ditching the 3D screen for the 2DS. Nintendo abandoned 3D, but it didn’t abandon the 3DS.

        More Vita hardware in one form or another will be sold and that means more Vita software will be made. Apple wasn’t afraid to make the iPad because it might cannibalize it’s Macbook and iPhone sales. And Sony shouldn’t be afraid to make the PS Vita TV in fear of canabalizing it’s PS4 and PS Vita sales.

        This will make the Playstation brand stronger as a whole. A more complete ecosystem.

  • Stealth

    for me this is a big mistake

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