While Nintendo hilariously won’t admit that its struggling Nintendo 3DS is competing against the mobile market in addition to the traditional handheld one, Sony made it clear this afternoon that phones are, indeed, real competition for the PS Vita. How so? By confirming tons of support that is typically reserved for phones. Twitter, Skype, Foursquare, Facebook, and Internet browsing will be available as tack-on apps eventually via PSN. In a more convincing move for us, the publisher confirmed plans to put every single game that comes to the Wi-Fi and 3G-enabled platform up for download.
This news comes on the heels of news that Sony was loaning PS Vita dev kits to indie devs, which for us at least, indicates that its somewhat serious about courting the same kinds of developers that flourish on the App Store.
Provided pricing stays at sane levels, PSN on the Vita seems like it has the potential to be a really interesting platform in the future. I mean, imagine downloading an Uncharted game for the same price as, say, a Final Fantasy Tactics [$15.99]. That would be competitive, which is a word that we never use when discussing Nintendo’s troubled e-Shop.
But, to be clear, that’s just tinfoil speculation -- our collective, TIME-award winning guts are pretty convinced that even the downloads of retail, package games will continue to sit at retail, package prices. To be fair, though, PSN is definitely the most flexible of the three big platforms, so anything is possible.
We'll note here that the PSP offers a couple of these apps. It also has an extensive game download service, but obviously, Sony was never able to wrangle in all the platform's releases. Current consoles also boast some of these apps. Simply, our take on this news is that the strength of this overall Vita package is a direct attempt to rival the all-around functionality and ease of phones and phone gaming.
Anyway, we’ll keep our eyes on the $250 PS Vita as its 2012 launch creeps ever closer. The gamer side of me really wants it to succeed, but man, it’s going to one heck of a climb to the top -- if it's even possible for it to get there anymore.
UPDATE: Looks like earlier reports jumped the gun; these apps may or may not be available at launch. We'll see.