image courtesy of Danny Choo (via Flickr)
Let’s not kid ourselves – the PS Vita is a struggling console. No Monster Hunter release (seems Nintendo are the people to go to for that fix, these days) arguably explains the lacking sales in Japan, and only a handful of expensive games at launch meant that the rest of the world wasn’t really seeing the appeal of the expensive portable console, either.
But now that the indie development community have turned their attention towards the platform, could we see its fortunes do a U-turn? What it needs is games, and games is what indie developers want to give it. It has a lot of input methods – touch, sound, traditional controls – a great screen, and it’s a very well-built machine. Add to that the relatively small file size and bite-sized length of a lot of indie games, and you’ve got yourself a match made in heaven.
The Ideal Line-up
At the moment, the sort of developers looking at the Vita are ones like Vlambeer, the two-person indie team responsible for Super Crate Box, the insanely addictive platforming run-and-gun arcade-style title that’s captured the attention of many a PC and iOs gamer. It’s perfect for the Vita – small in size, features almost endless replayability, and can be enjoyed in bursts from 30 seconds to four hours.
Big Sky Infinity, a side-scrolling twin-stick shooter indie due for release on PS3 and PS Vita via digital download in late 2012/early 2013. (image courtesy of psu.com)
Other games that would fit well are similar – burst-play, clean graphics (the aforementioned Super Crate Box has this going for it as well), and solid controls. Spelunky, Super Hexagon, Torchlight – all games that would send the appeal of owning a Vita through the roof. But how easy will it be for developers to get their games onto Sony’s portable new hope in the first place?
Ready, Set, Develop
Shuhei Yoshida, Sony Worldwide Studios’ President, has stated that they need to “make sure that small games can also be made, and that we can take care of lots of indie developers and individuals who want to express themselves,” in an interview with Gamasutra.
This is a positive move, and it means that there’s hopefully going to be an easier route to getting your games onto the Vita than there is with Nintendo’s 3DS – Nintendo being a company that until their recent Wii-U Unity move were notoriously difficult to work with as an indie, and still might be.
Opening the floodgates however is a risky move – while there are some gems on the Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace, it’s also full of a lot of games that reflect the ebook market’s “pile of not-so-great” problem. While they work with indie developers, they need to do some quality control. Unfortunately that also means that lacking good judgement, great indie titles get ignored. It’s a balancing act.
The Future Is Here
It’s an exciting time to be a Vita owner, and if enough indies with proven concepts throw their lot in right now, its library will expand considerably, beyond Vita, PSN and retro titles. If Sony make good on their promise to support indie developers on their quest to Vita-publish, then there may just be a future for the Vita, and a justified reason to consider their bigger, expensive proprietary memory cards – well, almost.
About the Author:
Jimmy Wentz is a budding freelance tech writer, gadget and gaming enthusiast, and social media junkie. He writes regularly about O2 and the latest news in the tech, gaming, and social media world.