updated 05:40 pm EDT, Fri June 17, 2011
Sony's Tretton says PS Vita could fill in for iPod
Sony's SCEA president Jack Tretton in a conversation Friday hoped that the PlayStation Vita would be as essential for many people as an Android or iOS device. When asked about competing with Apple and Google, he saw it as a matter of making the Vita an essential device. The system had to be so closely linked to entertainment that it became as important as taking a cellphone or a wallet, and he told Forbes that he saw it often filling the role.
"I think that the ability to do things that other devices can do will be a reason to make sure you own a Vita, and maybe why you leave the other devices at home," Tretton said. "I've certainly gotten that way, I don't carry a laptop anymore. Something like a Blackberry's perfect for the vast majority of what I need a laptop for. And then I think when it comes to entertainment, you'll find that Vita will do everything, and maybe do things better, than any other device that you're using."
The Vita would still be pitched first to dedicated gamers since that was always its goal and generated more game revenue. However, it was much easier to sell casual users on the Vita than with the PSP both out of features and out of the social acceptability of gaming on smartphones.
Sony has been shy on how most non-gaming features will work on the Vita, but it's expected to be a major leap versus the basic support on the PSP. The new PlayStation will also launch with Qriocity music streaming and PSN movie streaming access that weren't options with the original console. An optional 3G version of the Vita will also give always-on access that has been an advantage on the iPhone or other gaming-friendly smartphones.
The company was one of the first casualties of Apple in gaming. It was already struggling against Nintendo, but the appearance of the App Store and games for the iPod and iPhone cut into its revenue and ultimately sales. The consciously more iPod-like PSP Go had little impact, and it eventually chose to spread PlayStation gaming to Android phones like its own Xperia Play.
On the PlayStation 4, Tretton tried to steer attention back to the current system. The PS3 was "just hitting its stride," he said, and it didn't look like there could be a meaningful upgrade in the short term. Talk of a PS4 wouldn't happen for "quite some time" and hadn't been accelerated by the Nintendo Wii U.