Today, Gearbox is asking its fans to put pressure on Sony to help them make a port of Borderlands 2 for the Vita. The biggest problem seems to be that they don’t have the man power to create a high quality port that will also allow players to connect characters between the PS3 and Vita.
This move shows an important point that Sony would do well to notice. If Gearbox is asking fans, then they’ve already gone to Sony several times. Essentially Gearbox wants to make a potentially awesome AAA title for the Vita and Sony is giving them middle finger. Why? Sony needs the games. They need great franchises, but they don’t seem to care anymore.
Sony’s problem is that they create innovative hardware to try to sell gamers on concepts (PS3 = powerful but complicated cpu, Vita = dual touch screens, lots of power, interplay) and then refuses to actually go out and try to attract developers. When developers look at Sony’s platforms they see lots of possibility and lots of complexity. The PS3 processor is really hard to develop for, thus all the problems with ports and why no games are developed for it first. But if they did develop for it, PS3 games could look and play much better then any other platform. The vita is complexity defined with dual touchscreens, a powerful ARM chip on a custom OS that will demand high graphics, and an expectation to utilize the interplay between PS3 and Vita. But if developers focused on its abilities, they could create some very interesting game concepts. At least DS developers can get lazy with cartoony graphics, and 3D images aren’t that hard to make. But Nintendo works very hard to make their own games while also keeping their developers happy. Microsoft did a bang up job of grabbing developers from its own PC gaming market and lured them with “good enough” and familiar hardware(read: off the shelf pc parts).
What the Vita needs to succeed is developers, and Sony can’t afford to take the “build it and they will come” approach anymore. There are too many platforms to develop for now, including tablets, and to provide a complex developer nightmare with no incentive is to invite failure. The Vita doesn’t sell because of it’s lack of games. Developers don’t develop for it because it doesn’t sell. Only Sony can break this cycle. But unfortunately, today’s example shows they aren’t willing to.