We’ve had several months to play with the PS Vita, and while we couldn’t be happier with Sony’s latest handheld device, it’s hard to ignore the relatively slow pace of new game releases. We loved Gravity Rush—and would love to argue why it’s the game to own on Vita—and we even loved the wide assortment of launch games. You don’t have to look far to find folks on the internet complaining about the lack of games, even proclaiming (after less than six months since its release outside of Japan) that Vita is a flop. But anyone who had spent a fair amount of time with their Vita knows it’s a fantastic piece of hardware with a ton of potential.
There are plenty of people out there waiting for their favorite franchises to make an appearance on Vita before they commit to a $249-$299 USD purchase. Sony Computer Entertainment has a goal of selling 10 million PS Vitas by the end of its fiscal year—March 2013. With just over 1.8 million Vitas sold thus far—even though sales numbers have picked up in recent weeks—SCE certainly has some work to do before popping the champagne corks. But Sony has some aces up its sleeve.
Great games will help push Vita sales, and there are a number of titles from big franchises coming soon to Sony’s handheld platform. A properly executed Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty installment will spark interest, especially for punters on the fence. But what about other big franchises like Grand Theft Auto, Monster Hunter, The Elder Scrolls, even Madden?
PSU has decided to take a look at games and franchises that will help sell more Vitas. Some of these games and franchises we already know are coming out, while others have been speculated on in recent months, and still, others are only our (and our community’s) secret desires. Let’s have a look at the games that will help Sony sell more Vitas, and don’t forget to join the conversation with our community.
The Elder Scrolls
A lot of PlayStation 3 owners have a love-hate relationship with Bethesda, especially after the debilitating bugs in the PS3 version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, not to mention the timed Xbox-exclusive expansion, Dawnguard. But Vita desperately needs a great role-playing game—actually, it needs several RPGs. Imagine a sprawling open-world action-RPG on-the-go. Imagine digging deeper into The Elder Scrolls universe, discovering new cities and towns, exploring dungeons, fighting dragons, crafting gear, and joining guilds. As is the case with many of the other entries on this list, the likelihood that Bethesda will invest substantial money into developing a game exclusively for Vita is quite thin. For Bethesda, that likelihood is even less since a team from the studio is now working on an MMO set in The Elder Scrolls universe. Still, if we see a sixth installment in the franchise, we hope Vita gets some attention. The buzz alone from an Elder Scrolls on Vita would surely be enough to sell a ton of units.
This one isn’t even a stretch. Gearbox Software’s Randy Pitchford has even said he’s interested in the idea of a Vita version of Borderlands 2, and the ability to share characters with the PlayStation 3 version. However, Gearbox doesn’t have plans to develop the Vita version. Fans have even created a petition demanding a Vita version of Borderlands 2. We’ve spent some time with Borderlands 2 and we think it’s a big improvement from the original. But just like Bethesda will likely not invest money into Vita yet, Gearbox is probably not interested in dropping funds into Sony’s new handheld. But is the solution simply to request Sony, or another developer, take the steering wheel for a Vita version? While we can certainly understand tight budget (who can’t these days?), this simply means a lot of those big franchises we want on Vita will likely not happen anytime soon. Our own community is excited at the potential here. Ghost-Rayne says: “Borderlands 2! This game, with cloud saves and cross play would be EPIC.”
This is the first on our list that has potential, serious potential. We were promised a BioShock on Vita at one point, but with Irrational Games hard at work on BioShock Infinite, news on a handheld installment has been thin. Maybe another 2K studio will take charge of the Vita version, but regardless of who steers the project, a BioShock game will certainly bring enough name recognition to drive Vita sales. Creator Ken Levine has said BioShock Vita is on hold because Infinite is a massive endeavor. That is actually good news for BioShock Vita since we know he generally puts everything into his games—this could translate well for a deeply-engaging story-based shooter on Sony’s handheld.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified
If Sony needs some name recognition for Vita, it need not look further than Call of Duty. Love it or hate it, Call of Duty will sell like crazy. Declassified could help draw in CoD fans who weren’t even thinking about Vita simply because it’s another Call of Duty. And, make no mistake, Vita has the power and hardware to run a sharp, competitive first-person shooter. There’s not much else to say about Declassified—if it has strong online support, most CoD fans are going to eat it up.
Just about anything with Final Fantasy in the title will sell quite well. We decided to group a bunch of Final Fantasy games together. Some of our community members, like zzKurozz, wants to see Final Fantasy Type-0. Thorzilla agrees, saying “Hail to Type 0!” Straying from the Final Fantasy XIII narrative is in order for a Vita game. Besides seeing potential HD versions of PS2 Final Fantasy’s, let’s either see something brand new, or continue the narrative of other games carrying the Final Fantasy name. With PSOne classics on Vita, we’ll be able to play through games like Final Fantasy VII again. Final Fantasy X will also sell quite well, but we still believe something brand new added into the mix is in order. Our money is on Type 0 at this point, but Square likely has something new up its sleeve, too.
Assassin’s Creed III Liberation
Another one on our list that’s confirmed is Assassin’s Creed III Liberation. Ubisoft has the world by the wallet with its Assassin’s Creed franchise. A Vita version of Assassin’s Creed is slated for release this fall, and with it comes a female protagonist, and a new setting—18th century New Orleans. Just as our Call of Duty installment, the name recognition with Assassin’s Creed—and some smart advertising—is enough to push Vita sales.
Who would have thought classic Disney characters and Final Fantasy characters would work so well together in a videogame? Well, it works like magic. A remake would do extremely well. There are already several games in the franchise, including a recent 3DS installment, so a Kingdom Hearts on Vita is certainly not a stretch. We could see the story pick up after the prequel, Birth by Sleep, or go into a completely new direction. Either way, Kingdom Hearts is a Vita-seller.
Grand Theft Auto
This is an obvious choice to help Vita sales. We’ve already seen the likes of Chinatown Wars on PSP, so it makes sense that Rockstar could put together a killer GTA for Vita. It’s hard to tell if we would see an exclusive Vita version, but with Grand Theft Auto V coming out, perhaps we could see a portable version, or at least a portable “Stories” version. Blacksite agrees: “I'd love to see some more open world titles like Grand Theft Auto and Final Fantasy.”
For diehard fans, those two words—Monster Hunter—are enough to throw large amounts of money at just about anything. If Sony is smart, it will roll with that idea and release a Monster Hunter in both the west and east. We know we’ll see a Monster Hunter out sometime this year, and Japanese gamers will eat it up by the bucket full. It’s likely we’ll see a Monster Hunter out in the second half of 2012, and we know if it does anything like it did for the PSP in Japan, it could really carve away at Sony’s goal of selling 10 million Vitas by fiscal year’s end.
We left a few big games off the list (including God of War and Killzone) but you can join the conversation with the community to talk about what games Vita needs. Some interesting choices include a Gran Turismo, rereleasing PSP games with trophies, a Jet Set Radio sequel, and new versions of classic Resident Evil games. But, of course, we want to hear from you. Drop us a comment below with your picks.