Now that the PlayStation 4 is setting the bar for what gamers expect from a PlayStation experience, Sony is beginning to look more toward indies, third-party developers and Remote Play to deliver gaming to the Vita, Shuhei Yoshida told Polygon in a recent interview.
And that's not exactly surprising, he added.
"When we launched PSP titles, a big talking point was PS2-quality games in your hands," Yoshida said. "It was an amazing experience to play PS2-quality like Twisted Metal on your portable device. But as time went on and the PS3 launched and people started to see next-gen games, that PS2 quality was not enough. People's expectations for the quality just moved on.
"So when we launched the Vita with Uncharted, it was amazing; PS3-like quality in your palm, but as time moved on, you are seeing PS4 quality and people's expectations for the graphic fidelity has gone up."
Yoshida said as graphics become less of a "talking point" for the Vita, the focus on what they want to put on the portable platform shifted.
"It's very fortunate that the indie boom happened and they are providing lots of great content to Vita," he said. " Gameplay, game mechanic wise, people want to spend 10 minutes, 15 minutes getting in and out. On Vita, it's great with suspended functionality, so these indie games really great for that from a game design standpoint.
"Instead of watching big stories or cinematics, you can spend hours on Vita. So, I think that's actually the biggest star to help provide great content to Vita going forward. And we continue to make games cross-platform games, especially on digital side."
Do you think the Vita then will be getting fewer first-party games, I asked.
"I would say, yes, that's correct," Yoshida said.
Third-party developers are still tweaking how they bring big games to the portable. When Borderlands 2 came to the Vita, for instance, many people were annoyed by the controls, which in-part relied on the back touch pad.
Yoshida loved the game but wasn't a fan of those controls, and tweeted out the day of the game's release that players could customize the way they played on the portable.
"I love what they did," he said. "Comparing that to the PS3 experience, I don't think that should be the point. It's a very, very deep and enjoyably fun game, and I'm having fun playing with a new character I missed on PS3 because it included most of the DLC. So I think they did a great job."
"I tweeted immediately when it came out you can remap the controls from the back touch," he added. Then Yoshida turned to Adam Boyes, vice president of publisher and developer relations, who was in the interview as well and added: "My complaints to your team is, why didn't you make it the default?"
Boyes said his team has since created a system for developers to use the touch on Vita and reassign the mapping, but that it wasn't available at launch.
"So some games like Infamous already do that, put everything on the front touchscreen because the front is easier to reach," he said.
The ability to tweak the way a game is controlled on the Vita is becoming increasingly important with the ability to play PlayStation 4 games through Remote Play.
Yoshida said Remote Play has also taken a little bit of pressure off of Sony to make first-party Vita games.
But Sony seems not to be completely capitalizing on the functionality. There hasn't been much of an advertising push about the service, I tell Yoshida. Could there be an official PS4 and Vita bundle coming?
Yoshida said that some European retailers released an unofficial bundle that packaged the two systems together, but nothing from Sony, at least not yet.
"Never say never," he said. "In the past, we did something like Bravia TV and PS3 bundle, so that's even bigger. So never say never.
"We are super excited about how people are using it. We are bringing PS TV with that feature and the tech teams are constantly working to improve the experience as well. It's a Gaiki team who's tech is provided. You are on a streaming service, so the basic tech is the same whether it's PS Now or Remote Play, and latency is super important. So we will continue to provide more utility to Vita as a PS4 companion device as well as PS Now terminal."
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