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The great Vita indie games debate - Will the handheld die in 2014 due to lack of triple-A titles?

on 22 August 2013

This article reflects the very different views of two PlayStation gamers who both watched Sony’s press conference last night and both have opinions that are markedly different.

Let’s begin with Jonathan, who was rather disappointed at the influx of indie games on Vita and the lack of the triple-A titles he craves.


Love or hate indies - they're coming in droves

Jonathan  (against influx of indie games) says:

At Gamescom this week, Sony confirmed that no fewer than 25 PlayStation Vita titles will launch over the next 12 months, including the recently announced Borderlands 2 but the rest of the line-up is fairly unimpressive, especially if you were expecting a slew of games aimed at the core PlayStation audience.

Now I know Vita will support Remote play allowing us to stream any PS4 title to our handheld via Wi-fi (no good when you’re on a Virgin train or sitting on a bus or aeroplane,) but where are all the core gaming titles? Where are the big triple-A games that we expected to see from what was marketed as a core gaming handheld?

Now, I do love Sony’s backing of indie developers but at the conference indie games were thrown in our faces at such a rate it was hard to keep up. Is this list of upcoming games the direction that Vita is heading in 2014? If so, Vita seems to be a place, much like a second division football club, for indie developers to showcase their talents before moving onto the big time, and a place for gamers to rifle through tat in order to find decent games. If this is the direction Vita is heading, then I see it as not much more than a companion device to PS4 in 2014. Sure, they'll be some great indie games, but how many?

Let’s take a look at what we know is coming to Vita. Borderlands 2 has been confirmed, which is a great title but most Borderlands fans would have played it on PS3 and will have no reason to play it again. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is probably the highlight of the major titles so kudos to Warner Bros for stepping forward and creating a spin-off of the console version for Vita gamers. I'm also looking forward to Football Manager Classic 2014, which is a game that is perfectly suited to handheld and, of course, Killzone: Mercenary next month which has been receiving some decent previews. What else is there though?

Well, it looks like the rumour of Call of Duty:Ghosts on Vita hasn’t come to fruition, neither has BioShock Infinite. There is LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, but did you play Batman 2 and LEGO Lord of The Rings on Vita (they were shockingly bad) and, of course, the great looking Tearaway, which will be genius (in a Media Molecule LittleBigPlanet kind of way). And then there was the announcement of Minecraft, which many would have already played to death on other platforms. Personally, I think it's over-rated anyway and the smaller Vita screen will just make it too fiddly to want to even bother with.

Then we have these games listed below, where a chunk of them are not Vita-exclusive but made for all manner of platforms in order to appeal to the mass market including iOS and Android. Some of them do look decent but is this all we have to look forward to in 2014?

Now, don’t get me wrong here; I do love PlayStation Vita. I've spent many hours playing games like Persona 4 Golden, but - as the PlayStation community have already stated - they want better quality titles, and so do we. I don’t want all indies. I want GTA, Metal Gear, Uncharted, Resident Evil and so on. If you want to see what the big name developers really think of Vita, just check out what EA has done with FIFA 14. It's a disgrace that Vita owners get a port of an old game and it shows that it doesn't care/think it will make enough money out of Vita gamers.

I do hope that there’s lots more to come from Vita in 2014 because at this rate the only thing I’ll be using it for in 2014 is to stream PS4 games. Mind you, that should be fun.

This is the view of Kyle, who thinks Jonathan is way off the mark. He believes that indie games are crucial and will help toward the success of PlayStation.

Kyle: Before I dive in to why indie games are awesome, important to the industry, and the most exciting thing coming to PS Vita, let's set one thing straight: Every PS4 game will be playable on PS Vita with Remote Play. If you have both consoles and good Wi-Fi, your Vita will be a triple-A powerhouse.

In that light, Sony's move to court independent developers and their imaginative creations is the smartest move they could be making right now. The triple-A games are already secured, in a certain sense, and indie games are big business. Fez, Hotline Miami 2, Minecraft, Velocity 2X, and every new IP announced during Sony's Gamescom presser--these are all potential megahits, and some already are. The fact that Sony is securing these relationships before one-third of its console trifecta is even out bodes extremely well for the future. More and more of the developers that will define a new era in gaming are placing their bets on Sony's horse: genuine humility, a passion for games, and a desire to inject new life into the industry.

This is the way video games, as a medium, are going. Indie games are mainstreaming as developers gain media attention and larger-than-cult followings. Within a couple years, no one will be using the word "indie" anymore. These will just be games. Sony is so far ahead of its console competition in courting this shift. That means the creativity and sparks of genius in today's "indie" games--with the diversity and imagination we've been longing for--are going to be on Vita with increasing frequency.

The argument that independent games mean nothing is remarkably shortsighted to me. They won't sell systems, sure (yet), but you can bet your ass a price drop will. And we got that at Gamescom, too. Besides, we're on the cusp of AAA exclusives like Killzone: Mercenary and Tearaway. Vita has never looked better, and the "indies" you're seriously underestimating are more than half of the reason.

Gone Home is the most powerful gaming experience I've had all year (seriously, everyone reading this needs to play it). I've used my Vita more this summer--playing Hotline Miami, Velocity Ultra, Pixeljunk Monsters, Thomas Was Alone--than during any other time in my ownership of it. This is where the industry is going, and Sony gets that. Sony is treating every one of these game announcements like an Assassin's Creed, or a Halo, and that's no mistake. They're securing a beautiful future while recognizing that these games are way more exciting and fun than many of the blockbuster tripe that hasn't changed in decades. These experiences are PERFECT for Vita, and they're exactly what I want to play on it.

Besides, indie games are going to become the new games, pure and simple. Folks are always looking for something that will "save the industry" and break through the blockbuster tedium. This is it.

So…who do you agree with? Will the influx of indie titles lead to the death of PlayStation Vita or is this just the beginning?