It’s the question that’s been hanging over the PlayStation Vita since Sony announced the device: How will this $250 gaming device ever compete with the all-in-one convenience of a cellphone?
Shuhei Yoshida, head of Sony Computer Entertainment’s Worldwide Studios, has clearly answered about one million times in the past year.
“The Vita gives you a game experience you can’t have on other devices,” Yoshida said when I asked him my version of the question in an interview. “It’s a unified experience that’s only possible on the PlayStation Vita. There are no other portable devices that you can play with two analog sticks. You do not feel like you’re compromising on this portable.”
Then, a beat later. “That’s our answer and we are betting on that theory,” he said, before laughing.
It’s a big bet. The Vita will be on sale in the U.S. starting tomorrow, Feb. 22, in a market where games on mobile phones have been eating into the portable handheld market that’s been dominated by Sony’s PlayStation Portable and Nintendo’s DS line for years. While most mobile games don’t have the hours of storylines that portable titles do, consumers have been turning to the quick puzzles and short spurts of gameplay for those moments they spend standing in line, on the train or waiting for a ride.