• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.
  • The Politics forum has been nuked. Please do not bring political discussion to the rest of the site, or you will be removed. Thanks.

Opinion Platform Was Sony's "Console Quality Gaming" marketing with the PSP and PS Vita overhyped?

Jubenhimer

Member
Nov 11, 2018
1,689
2,229
560
24
When Sony Computer Entertainment threw their hat into the handheld gaming arena that up to that point had largely been dominated by Nintendo, they designed a handheld that was so powerful, it could create PS2-like graphics in the palm of your hand. Sony's marketing shtick with the PlayStation Portable was that it delivered console quality games anywhere you go. Meaning the same types of games you find on PS2 will be found on PSP. Years later, Sony used this selling point again with the PlayStation Vita, PSP's successor. Once again promising console quality gameplay wherever you go.

That sounds and looks neat at first glance. It's when you dig a little deeper that you start to find fallacies in that claim. The PSP promised PS2 quality games in your pocket, and in some ways it delivered. But it wasn't quite the full console experience Sony hyped it up. For starters the PSP is much weaker and has a lower resolution than the PS2 did, so games would've needed to be downgraded a fair amount in order to function properly on the system. Second, the PSP notoriously lacks the full DualShock controller layout, that being the lack of dual analog, and the lack of L2, R2, L3, and R3 buttons. That meant games had to somehow work around the limitations of the control scheme. And the vast majority of those "console quality games" were simply spin-offs and side games of existing console franchises designed with the limitations of the PSP in mind. Sure they played vaguely similar to their console counterparts, but they also tended to be shorter and less complex than the console games. Then once the PlayStation 3 arrived, the PSP was already a generation behind what was then considered console gaming. Let's face it the PSP didn't have Blu-Ray, so its games couldn't be nearly as big in scope. It didn't have full console controls. It didn't have HD graphics. And It didn't have the processing power for games found on the PS3. The PSP is a great system, but it's "console quality gaming" in many ways, came off as more of a marketing gimmick.

Then there's the PS Vita, which is arguably much closer to the console quality experience the PSP was, just by the virtue of having dual analog controls, and more powerful hardware. Still no L2/R2 or L3/R3 buttons though, instead those would be substituted by the Rear touchpad. Even then, it was still less powerful than the PS3, so it couldn't get a lot of actual PS3 games, just rough approximations of them. And the PS4 would launch a year later, once again, putting the PS Vita a generation behind what was now considered console gaming. The PSP and Vita did get a lot of ports from older consoles though, but did most other handhelds. I think what Sony didn't really seem to get was that what's considered console quality now, won't be in the next year or so, and that left their systems is this weird state where it's more powerful than the competition, but not powerful enough to handle an actual current console game.

So what it pure bullshit? Not really, Like I said in some ways, these systems actually delivered. Metal Gear Solid Piece Walker was as close to a console Metal Gear as you could get on the PSP for example. But I think Sony really oversold the capabilities of their handheld platforms when their actual libraries say otherwise. It's not just Sony either, I find the idea of "Console Quality gaming" a very flawed concept, because not only does that ignore the fact that mobile technology is always 2 steps behind console tech, but that phrase can also apply to a ton of games on any handheld. Even with the Nintendo Switch, which Nintendo initially marketed as a "Home Console on the go". In reality, it's more a glorified tablet with a Game Boy Player. Same with the PSP. When you boil it down to its basics, the PSP was a Fancier GBA with multi-media features. A damn good one, but at the end of the day, it was a handheld at its core.
 

GametimeUK

Member
Jul 2, 2015
1,657
939
520
When you look at the competition in the handheld space around the time of the PSP it's clear Sony had come closest to high quality console like gaming on the go. GTA on the DS was a top down old school style GTA game with style. In comparison the PSP version was still in the spirit of the PS2 with a few setbacks of course, but it still felt really close in game design to the home console regardless. Same with games like God of War.

I don't think Peace Walker is the best comparison to make from home console vs portable device. Games like God of War and GTA on the PSP are like the console experience just shrunk down. Peace Walker was more like a franchise shrunk down AND changed to be designed around gaming on the go (it's still impressive).
 

stranno

Member
Dec 7, 2016
2,704
4,178
600
León, Spain
PSP delivered PS2 graphics back in 2005, one+ year before the release of Playstation 3. So that statement is certainly accurate.

Playstation Vita didnt match Playstation 3 graphics but it was far more powerful than New3DS. ARM Cortex Quad-Core (ARMv7) vs ARM11 Quad-Core (ARMv6), twice the RAM, ten times more VRAM, etc.
 

Omeggos

Member
Jan 12, 2018
6,720
7,190
645
The psp was an amazing system so no. Vita, technically was impressive, but it may have been overhyped for its level of quality considering devs (including sony) gave up on it shortly after launch.
Though tbf, its more to do with a clusterfuck of issues the vita had and how sony handled it despite its actual prowess (the system was somewhere between a 360 and a gamecube for graphical capability which for a system back in 2011 was very impressive)
 

CobraXT

Banned
Apr 24, 2020
544
1,442
510
The switch is the only portable that delivered console like experince ..vibration .. all the needed buttons .. big screen .. vita doesn't even come close
 

Azelover

Titanic was called the Ship of Dreams, and it was. It really was.
Dec 3, 2004
3,979
1,501
1,755
The PSP was a good propostition, but it had a couple of problems.

First, it used moving media, which made the battery life shorter. And it didn't have classic mainline portable franchises like Pokemon. Also, Nintendo's strategy of expanding the audience with games like Nintendogs and Brain Age, was superior to Sony's at that particular time.

But Sony managed to do quite well, I think. Considering...
 

DunDunDunpachi

Patient MembeR
Apr 18, 2018
29,325
70,246
1,405
USA
dunpachi.com
If Sony could've unified their development pipelines like Nintendo did, they could've had a Switch-like hit several years ago with the Vita. I think both companies were trying to do so, but Nintendo handled it better and Sony couldn't afford to keep trying.
 

Jubenhimer

Member
Nov 11, 2018
1,689
2,229
560
24
The PSP was a good propostition, but it had a couple of problems.

First, it used moving media, which made the battery life shorter. And it didn't have classic mainline portable franchises like Pokemon. Also, Nintendo's strategy of expanding the audience with games like Nintendogs and Brain Age, was superior to Sony's at that particular time.

But Sony managed to do quite well, I think. Considering...

I still remember Sony trying to make UMD a legit format. LOL, that died out real fast.
 

NeoIkaruGAF

Member
Dec 8, 2019
1,812
3,231
515
No, my friend. It wasn't.

Portable gaming was born out of technical constraints, but also out of a different perspective on gaming. In the beginning, handheld games were very different from their living room counterparts. They were shorter, simpler, and usually actually meant to be enjoyed on the go.

Then in the early 90s, something changed. Even Game Boy games started to get equipped with battery packs. Handheld games were getting bigger and more complex. NEC offered a handheld that played actual console games, just on a smaller screen. Because games were changing, and devs wanted to offer something bigger than portable arcade experiences and short games like Super Mario Land, in spite of technical constraints.

It's not a coincidence that Sony jumped on the bandwagon when they did. They were waiting for tech to be able to deliver exactly what you're saying they didn't: console-quality gaming on the go.
Sure, the games weren't as long or fully accomplished as their home versions. But this was to be expected. Why would you buy a PS3 if you could have the same games in the palm of your hand? Home consoles were always going to have the most fully realized games. But the point is that handheld games were offering experiences comparable to their home versions. Compare game Boy Megaman or Mario games to their NES counterparts. Then compare PS3 Uncharted to Vita Uncharted. Night and day, isn't it? Or think about games like God of War or Tekken on PSP, or Wipeout on Vita. Something like that was unthinkable less than a decade earlier. It was, plain and simple, console-quality gaming on a handheld.

And this is exactly why it didn't work so well commercially. As the economy got better, prices went down and TVs got bigger and bigger... why would you bother with the good, but ultimately gimped, handheld versions? The strength of handhelds was in offering different experiences. But if you could experience quite the same thing, but better, on your TV... why settle for handhelds that were getting more and more expensive, as consoles and TVs were getting more and more affordable?

This is also why Nintendo themselves gave up on the dedicated handheld market. This way they're not offering "almost the same thing, but not quite" - they're offering exactly what you can also enjoy in your living room. Why make two Zeldas when you can make just one, and make it the best you can, and people can enjoy it on the go if they want? Why make an Animal Crossing game that's gonna sell gangbusters (the portable one) and one that's not going to (the home one), when they can be one and the same? Why make two Mario Party, or Mario Kart, or Yoshi games, when you can make one and nobody is going to miss the features of the other version?

PSP and Vita delivered what they promised. And ultimately, it wasn't enough. The handheld versions were actual console games, but this just made them look and feel like wannabe console games instead. Even Nintendo, who thrived in the handheld market in spite of such technically phenomenal competition, had to learn the lesson in the end. What was once the dominion of handhelds has moved to mobile. Handheld gaming as it was originally conceived wasn't sustainable anymore, and console-quality games on handhelds weren't enough. Handhelds had become a middle ground that nobody wanted to thread anymore. A shame, because Nintendo's line of dual-screen handhelds offered features and ideas that can't be effectively replicated on console or on the Switch. But the market wasn't there anymore.
 

DunDunDunpachi

Patient MembeR
Apr 18, 2018
29,325
70,246
1,405
USA
dunpachi.com
No, my friend. It wasn't.

Portable gaming was born out of technical constraints, but also out of a different perspective on gaming. In the beginning, handheld games were very different from their living room counterparts. They were shorter, simpler, and usually actually meant to be enjoyed on the go.

Then in the early 90s, something changed. Even Game Boy games started to get equipped with battery packs. Handheld games were getting bigger and more complex. NEC offered a handheld that played actual console games, just on a smaller screen. Because games were changing, and devs wanted to offer something bigger than portable arcade experiences and short games like Super Mario Land, in spite of technical constraints.

It's not a coincidence that Sony jumped on the bandwagon when they did. They were waiting for tech to be able to deliver exactly what you're saying they didn't: console-quality gaming on the go.
Sure, the games weren't as long or fully accomplished as their home versions. But this was to be expected. Why would you buy a PS3 if you could have the same games in the palm of your hand? Home consoles were always going to have the most fully realized games. But the point is that handheld games were offering experiences comparable to their home versions. Compare game Boy Megaman or Mario games to their NES counterparts. Then compare PS3 Uncharted to Vita Uncharted. Night and day, isn't it? Or think about games like God of War or Tekken on PSP, or Wipeout on Vita. Something like that was unthinkable less than a decade earlier. It was, plain and simple, console-quality gaming on a handheld.

And this is exactly why it didn't work so well commercially. As the economy got better, prices went down and TVs got bigger and bigger... why would you bother with the good, but ultimately gimped, handheld versions? The strength of handhelds was in offering different experiences. But if you could experience quite the same thing, but better, on your TV... why settle for handhelds that were getting more and more expensive, as consoles and TVs were getting more and more affordable?

This is also why Nintendo themselves gave up on the dedicated handheld market. This way they're not offering "almost the same thing, but not quite" - they're offering exactly what you can also enjoy in your living room. Why make two Zeldas when you can make just one, and make it the best you can, and people can enjoy it on the go if they want? Why make an Animal Crossing game that's gonna sell gangbusters (the portable one) and one that's not going to (the home one), when they can be one and the same? Why make two Mario Party, or Mario Kart, or Yoshi games, when you can make one and nobody is going to miss the features of the other version?

PSP and Vita delivered what they promised. And ultimately, it wasn't enough. The handheld versions were actual console games, but this just made them look and feel like wannabe console games instead. Even Nintendo, who thrived in the handheld market in spite of such technically phenomenal competition, had to learn the lesson in the end. What was once the dominion of handhelds has moved to mobile. Handheld gaming as it was originally conceived wasn't sustainable anymore, and console-quality games on handhelds weren't enough. Handhelds had become a middle ground that nobody wanted to thread anymore. A shame, because Nintendo's line of dual-screen handhelds offered features and ideas that can't be effectively replicated on console or on the Switch. But the market wasn't there anymore.
Excellent post overall. I disagree that the market isn't there anymore, but I agree there has been a decline, especially because established devs don't want to "thread that middle ground" anymore. In the past we'd get handheld-unique ports and conversions and exclusives. Now in the age of streamlined dev time and re-using assets, handhelds don't make as much sense if your main market is on the consoles/PC. Handhelds still have a role to play.

Indie devs have picked up the slack, however, and if one is looking for the same "curated handheld" experience from the Game Boy / GBA era I think we've returned to it. You just have to look beyond the big publisher brands.

No no no.

The PSP + Vita games combines are better than NDS, N3DS and Switch combined. The killer times of the SFC/GameBoy/Color/Advanced are long gone (i loved those time).
Don't make me pick between two beloved brands like that. :lollipop_weary:

Personally, NDS alone stomps PSP, Vita, 3DS combined. Switch may end up surpassing the DS, though.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Kataploom

Breakage

Member
Mar 3, 2014
7,735
5,204
670
The marketing was misleading:
 

Roman Empire

Member
May 8, 2020
415
383
275
The PS Vita should be known as the most wasted potential handheld ever built. It was much ahead of the competition at the time but Sony just didn't want to develop games for it when they turned their eyes to the PS4, and so, the Vita died (ironic since its name means life).
 
  • Like
Reactions: DunDunDunpachi

Three

Member
Oct 26, 2014
6,167
3,720
610
If Sony could've unified their development pipelines like Nintendo did, they could've had a Switch-like hit several years ago with the Vita. I think both companies were trying to do so, but Nintendo handled it better and Sony couldn't afford to keep trying.
I don't think the unification would have worked for Sony. Sony have a different kind of market. Nintendo games are Nintendo games. They can look not that graphically great and people buy the system for the tentpole games whatever it is. Had Sony come in with an underpowered PS3P they would have lost both the handheld AND home console market.
 

DunDunDunpachi

Patient MembeR
Apr 18, 2018
29,325
70,246
1,405
USA
dunpachi.com
I don't think the unification would have worked for Sony. Sony have a different kind of market. Nintendo games are Nintendo games. They can look not that graphically great and people buy the system for the tentpole games whatever it is. Had Sony come in with an underpowered PS3P they would have lost both the handheld AND home console market.
They keep trying to unify (see: unification of "regular" console games and 3D content, and again with "regular" games and VR games on PS VR).

But like you said, not sure if a unification wouldn't have worked. It worked for Nintendo. Sony PSP still sold against all odds, in spite of numerous design flaws and misreads of the market. The problem -- as you pointed out -- is that Nintendo was already on the lower end of graphics, while Sony tries to push graphics. The gap between Vita and PS4 was much wider than the gap between 3DS and Wii U, for instance.

I think the only way that Sony goes "portable" again is with a VR set.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Three

Nikana

Go Go Neo Rangers!
Jan 26, 2016
11,159
15,765
915
I dont think it was overhyped but its why I never got one. Every game that I played on a buddys felt like a compormised version of a "AAA experience." Granted I maybe only played 8-10 games total from PSP and 3-4 on Vita. It wasn't ever bad but I just didn't think the investment was worth it when I already owned a PS2/3 and PS4. They obviously had a lot of indie stuff on both of them as well but that wasn't enough to get me to jump in.

I got a DS LIte and 3DS mainly for Pokemon but I ended up finding a lot of software I couldn't get on any other console, handheld or not, which is what kept me and I suspect others in the ecosystem as well.
 

MoreJRPG

Suffers from extreme PDS
Oct 24, 2017
1,001
2,141
585
Vita game’s look pretty damn good. The Call of Duty game looks as good as that Warface game or whatever it is on Switch and it came out eight years ago.
 
Last edited:

Roufianos

Member
May 14, 2015
2,958
2,107
645
Vita as a machine was more than capable of delivering console quality graphics. Just a shame that Sony only put out 2 AAA first party releases for it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Roman Empire

Fnord

Member
Jul 10, 2013
1,535
560
620
51
Mount Pleasant, SC
The more salient question would be, "Did people WANT console quality gaming in a handheld?" And apparently, that answer was, "No." >I< want(ed) it, but I'm seemingly in the minority.