With the release of Sony’s PS Vita coming up, there are various pre-order options for consumers to ponder. The obvious options are a pre-order of either the WiFi or 3G/WiFi version of the Vita, and the additional option is the premium “PlayStation Vita First Edition Bundle”. The advantages of this premium bundle (at a premium price of $349.99) include the 3G/WiFi PS Vita, a limited PS Vita hard-shell case, a 4GB Vita memory card and a copy of the game Little Deviants. Gamers that order the PS Vita First Edition Bundle will also receive their console a week earlier than other pre-ordered systems and in consideration of that, a smattering of titles will be available on February 15 as well. Please note, however, that according to dates on Sony’s official site, most of the games were already released in February of this year!
There are a lot of uncertain variables that could be the impetus behind the less than stellar pre-orders. The sales of the Japanese version of the console dropped 80% between week one and week two, and we can only speculate as to why. It could be because the people who are serious about dedicated gaming devices buy their consoles within the first week and/or have it on pre-order, and the rest of the world is content with their smartphone. Aside from that, the relentless fine-tuning that the PlayStation Portable underwent during it’s lifespan can’t be encouraging, either. Those elements combined with the steep price drop the 3DS saw during it’s infancy in addition to the swift $100 price cut on Sony’s PlayStation 3D Display only help to make the decision of whether to purchase now, later, or never an even more harrowing decision.
Based on reviews of the Vita released in Japan, it is estimated to have a mere three hours of gameplay per charge. That is, in my opinion, one of the large challenges that has hindered 3DS popularity as well. It’s a portable gaming console. Gamers don’t want to be tethered to power outlets with something that is supposed to be portable. There also seems to be a lot of confusion as to exactly what having the 3G model of the console will really mean. What will the subscription fee be? Will there eventually be a Verizon model as well as an AT&T model? Wait a minute… What exactly am I going to be able to *do* with 3G that I can’t do with WiFi? The only hints that could possibly provide us answers come in the form of an addendum to the product’s description:
*Mobile Broadband access requires DataConnect Pass plan for other specified devices. Time begins expiring immediately upon purchase/activation, whether you are using the service or not. Once your time expires or the allotted data is used, whichever comes first, your data access will cease. 30 day domestic plans automatically renew, unless you cancel auto-renewal. Fees are non-refundable. For full terms see Data Connect Pass Wireless Data Services Agreement on www.att.com/wirelesslegal. Mobile broadband coverage not available in all areas.
At this time, this is the only amount of specificity given. The consumer can only assume that the 3G Data Plan will be similar to that of the iPad 3G Data commitment, commencing when you request it, and renewing with an automated charge every 30 days unless cancelled. A call to AT&T Customer Service reveals no further details; an outline of tablet plans can be found here. Considering this, and considering the huge re-design that both the Nintendo DS line and the PlayStation Portable line underwent in their respective runs, it is very understandable why there could be some confusion as well as hesitation in pre-ordering or even purchasing the Vita at all. As a matter of fact, a couple of days ago I pre-ordered the First Edition Bundle with some money that I got for Christmas, and as I write, I ponder how sound a decision it was. To be honest, I probably never will use the 3G capability once the initial 30 days are up, but pricing out exactly what I would want with my console, even factoring in the WiFi only price, I’m already at $324 in my cart and that’s without a case to keep it in.
Personally, it comes down to a few factors. I know that I am going to want the Vita eventually. No matter what gaming device is released, or how skeptical I am about it at it’s inception, if there is one thing that I have learned over the years, it is that I will eventually want it. I hated the idea of the Nintendo DS and the PlayStation Portable when they were both launched but inevitably and reluctantly purchased them a couple of years later. Then, when you think about the cost of the 3G/WiFi bundle, it breaks down like this: $299 for the 3G/WiFi version of the console, $39.99 for the game Little Deviants, looking at probably around $19.99 if you want to get a hard case for the Vita, and another $19.99 for the 4GB memory card. Altogether, the estimated cost for the separate purchase of items included in the “First Edition Bundle” is $378.97 before tax. I know that I would want to give Little Deviants a shot anyhow, inevitably every system needs memory, and I am pretty obsessive when it comes to protecting my electronic devices. By pre-ordering the bundle I am saving $38.97 over buying everything separately, AND getting the system a week early. Consider the fact that what I wanted this Christmas was funding for my video game obsession (addiction?), and that breaks down the price even further into making it essentially free for me; I’ve rationalized myself into being okay with my purchase decision again. I am very much looking forward to the Remote Play feature that means that I can switch to playing Final Fantasy XIII-2 on my Vita when the TV is needed for something else, in much the same way I look forward to doing the very same thing on the upcoming Wii U controller.
What are your thoughts? What will be the right bundle for you? Would you choose a 3G/WiFi Vita over your Smartphone, or would you choose to buy the WiFi version because you’re always near a HotSpot? I’d like to hear from people that want to say “Forget the Vita altogether! It will tank!” because that seems to be a particularly vociferous crowd on the web as of late, and I would love to hear the in-depth reasons as to why, not from blog reporters like me, but from casual video game consumers.