Fellow gaming editor Erik Norris and I sat together during Sony's press conference at E3 this past June. We had our fill of pre-show jambalaya (no shit, it was delicious) and were guzzling down the free water when Sony started their festivities.
The thing I remember most about the barrage of gaming news and demos was the price point for the PS Vita. This handheld was announced at two separate costs: $250 for the base, wi-fi only model, and $300 for the wi-fi and 3G model.
You know what? I was stunned.
I'm not one for monthly contract fees, so the 3G model was never a point of consideration for me. But, had the wi-fi only model been priced right, I told myself that I'd be buying the system on day one.
$250 was perfect. At the time, that put the PS Vita at the same price as the Nintendo 3DS. The 3DS has since then seen a major price drop, so the PS Vita now stands alone at $250; but, still, the price works for the device. I was in for one.
And then Sony started announcing specs and price points. The battery life for the device is listed at roughly 4 hours. That's without wireless connectivity enabled and, probably, a moderate level of brightness. That's…low.
Oh, but don't worry, Sony's announced that you'll be able to extend the battery life by 4-7 hours with their external, portable, rechargeable battery. It'll only cost ya $50. But, hey, $50 for more battery life ain't bad.
Then came news of the PS Vita's storage format. The system will have its own, proprietary memory cards. They will range from 4GB to 32GB in size and will cost anywhere from $30-$120. If you're looking to download a ton of content, the larger sticks are a must. Heck, if you're looking to download anything, you're going to need more than 4GB of free space.
Here's what sucks: some games will require memory cards in order to save. Among them are the best of the PS Vita's launch lineup; games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Ridge Racer will all need memory cards.
At least the price of games is reasonable. They're each selling for $40. I'm not complaining, that's fair for a great experience on the portable level, really.
Here's the thing… the PS Vita went from perfectly-priced to shit-expensive over the course of the last several months. $250? Forget it.
$250 for the base system, $30 for the base memory card and $40 for a single game. You'll need to spend $320 to enjoy one good game on the PS Vita at launch. That's speaking conservatively.
If you want the best of the best, here's what you're looking at… $300 for the system, $50 for the extra battery, $120 for the memory card and $40 for a single game. That's $510 for a system at launch. That doesn't even include the unannounced monthly contract price for the 3G connectivity you'll be buying.
I'm sorry, but $320 is not a good price point in today's economy. I can get a 3DS bundled with a great game for $200, and that system requires no extras for play. They include a base memory card in the box. Sony? Nope, just the system, nothing else.
Consider me stunned, again, and out.