GameStop has priced out memory cards for the PlayStation Vita:
|Product name||Release date|
|Memory card 4GB||$29.99|
|Memory card 8GB||$44.99|
|Memory card 16GB||$69.99|
|Memory card 32GB||$119.99|
The PlayStation Vita launches on February 22nd, 2012.
Analysis: There was no reason—none—to go with a proprietary form factor other than sheer “screw you” greed, and when one takes a look at the minutia of playing games on a Vita, things start to look clear. Every Vita game will be released both in retail and digitally at launch, though I expect digital to take the focus as the life of the console goes along. PSP games are already large, some taking up a gigabyte or more. I know Aileen constantly has to play a data-based game of Jenga on her 2GB card, and even my 4GB is getting full. Considering the Vita’s heavier graphics capabilities, I expect games to be even larger. 2GB downloads add up fast. Furthermore, don’t forget that on the PS3, Sony requires installs of some games, installs that take up as much as 5GB of data. On the PS3, with its open form factor for hard drives (any 2.5″ drive will work), that’s not a problem; it’s easy to upgrade to a 1TB drive if I want to. On the Vita, if that’s the direction they go—and I wouldn’t put it past them—then multiple 32GB cards are going to become mandatory for core gamers. That’s $240 just for storage. I’m a core gamer who is almost giddy at the potential of the Vita… or at least I was, until I realized the money sink involved. How is someone more casual going to feel?
Anyone who thinks that the cost of these is going to depreciate should do a search on PSP memory sticks. Amazon had a 32GB PSP stick for $85.99… and that’s 44% off. The link above in the news section is to a 32GB microSD card that’s about $35. That’s less than half the price on newer technology.
The cost of these cards only confirms that this was a greedy decision by a company that cannot afford greedy decisions. The Vita is entering a wholly different market than the PSP did and at a worse time. They’re releasing a brand new system in February, with all sorts of added costs, into a market where a cell phone is the market leader. I want “core” gamers to stop fooling themselves: the iPhone and iPad are the mobile gaming leaders because you can do many things on them other than play games, and the most expensive game I’ve seen is $16. In a sense, the industry’s become circular: Even if a kid wants a Vita or a 3DS to play an awesome game, parents are going to get them an iPad at Christmas because they can use it for work- and school-related duties as well, much like how the Commodore 64 and other early PCs started taking console market share because of their educational capabilities. Perception is also a key factor: if the average consumer thinks the iPhone is the best gaming system because their friends have one, they will buy an iPhone. Period.
Nintendo’s only now starting to recover from their underestimation of their market position, and that’s largely due to Black Friday sales and the strength of their beloved brands. Sony does not have those advantages, and when the average consumer learns that they have to pay additional money to get anything out of their system—anyone who says, “They should research!” is naive—they’re going to be pissed. Sony cannot afford to put obstacles like this up, but that’s Sony for you: any time they have a good idea, they take special care to royally screw it up.