Sony has admitted that the very existence of the 3G model of the PS Vita is ‘an experiment’ on the company’s part.
Speaking to IndustryGamers at this year’s DICE summit in Las Vegas, Sony exec Shuhei Yoshida agreed with concerns on the 3G model.
“I totally agree with where you’re coming from,” Yoshida said. “It’s a new thing to have 3G capability in a portable gaming system, and when we were working on the design of the hardware, it’s true that we believed in what we could do with 3G, but unless we have the system in the market and developers can try things and get feedback from consumers…it takes years to experiment and find a new way to use it, but unless we start somewhere we cannot even experiment.”
Why buy the 3G model if it’s such a risk, then? “So 3G is our investment in the future. I hope some consumers will believe in that investment of their money for the future. These systems last many years, and we will upgrade firmware, add new features, but it’s not easy to update hardware.
“But the main purpose we believe in for having 3G in PS Vita is the social connectivity features that we have put at the center of PS Vita. When you open a game, you don’t automatically start a game, but you’re taken to one page which is constantly updated from publishers as well as your friends doing activities or giving you in-game items. So all that social connectivity is enabled by the 3G.”
Yoshida reasons that, while we won’t be playing Call of Duty matches on the bus, we could instead by competing for leaderboards etc.
“So if you want to send your friend something or check to see if your score is being beaten, it’s immediate, and beyond the social connectivity there’s also asynchronous gameplay that lots of social games on Facebook do so well. We’re integrating in-game many of these features,” he said.
“For example, MotorStorm is being released at launch in the U.S. and Europe, and when you complete each event in the game, you can send your challenge to your friend. When you receive your challenge through 3G, you can immediately play with just one press of a button, to get started and play the same event [as your friend]. And yes, this is doable over Wi-Fi if you’re connected, but Wi-Fi isn’t available everywhere. 3G is not good for real-time, heavy online play, but for these social and asynchronous features, it’s quite capable.”
Sounds perfect for something like Need for Speed‘s Autolog service. With PlayStation Vita’s launch coming around half a day now, will the 3G version see as much love as the Wi-Fi?