At Sony’s “A Day With Playstation” event in Japan today, the company announced the Vita TV, a device that allows users to play Vita games on their TV. Using a Dualshock 3 controller owners can play both carts and downloaded titles (Vita, PS One, and PS Suite) and even Remote Play with the Playstation 4. Games can be played on a Vita, paused, and (through the PSN Plus’ cloud implementation) be picked up through the Vita TV at the last spot.
The 6cm x 10cm device is just slightly shorter than an iPhone 5, has slots for both carts and memory cards, HDMI port, USB and LAN. A second controller can be used for multiplayer games.
“But how do I play touch or rear-touch games?” you may ask. Well, a button press to open the menu can switch the mode to an on-screen cursor controlled by the analog stick. Yeah, it’s not a very sound implementation, and only games that support the method will actually work with the device. That might mean that some games are getting patched in time for launch, or that some may never work.
The Vita TV also works with Hulu, PS Video, and several other alternate uses. And at $100, the new device lands in that “budget” category.
Here’s where things get really interesting. At $100 the Vita TV is squarely pointed at the OUYA market: gamers who want access to independent games on their TVs, without buying a full console. Albeit arguably now they have access to a massive army of games. As a companion to the Vita, a $299 bundle could theoretically be coming along later on, almost like an entirely separate console focused on downloadable games. Allowing for Remote Play with the PS4 also means that with one PS4 console and a couple of the Vita TV devices, every television in a household can become PS4 equipped. Adding in video and music options is a way to stave off a few AppleTV purchases as well.
The Vita TV shows Sony’s push towards become a service provider instead of a hardware-based company. PSN (or SEN rather) is now stretched across almost every device the company creates. Playstation is no longer a gaming device, but a gaming service. That’s a substantial shift in the company, and one that we saw coming over the last few years with Playstation Suite and SEN’s growth. The company may even push SEN/PSN functionality to iOS devices one day, offering its games through an app on the iPhone.
But there are a few key questions and issues that remain to be resolved. Is it further confusing the hardware market? Yes, most definitely so. Does someone really need a Vita anymore, outside of it being a PS4 remote play device? Well, you probably don’t need an actual Vita anymore. Couldn’t we take a Vita TV with us instead of a Vita to play PS4 games?
But it stands to reckon that Sony needs as much hardware available right now as possible to remain a viable platform, and one at a budget price that offers great versatility might put Sony back in the red. With a November 14th launch (in Japan… no word on US plans) it’ll be an interesting time for Sony fans.