Wednesday, March 7, 2012

PS Vita late to the party with digital distribution

I recently went through an expensive process of prepping my already expensive Vita to be a primary digital medium device.  I am terrible at keeping up with cartridges, and even worse when they are the size of a thumbnail. 
Normally, this would just be a choice, but because of Sony's proprietary memory cards on the vita, its an investment.  To make my Vita digital download ready I am required to spend 100.00 on a 32GB Memory card.  This means that instead of picking up Uncharted and Lumines, two games I really want.  I bought a memory card.
This was a long term investment, I figured over the course of my vita I would save enough money (Downloadable games are generally 5 dollars cheaper) and also be able to keep track of all my games much easier, and lower the risk of loss and improve convience.
Now here is the problem, in a age where more and more retailers are willing to cater more and more to the hardcore player.  Whether through midnight releases, or the ability to pre-download a game with a digital release, retailers are beginning to understand that hardcore gamers want their games ASAP, and its one of the big advantages they can have over Wal-Mart/Target that don't do those types of promotions.
Now, my most anticipated game of the Vita launch window was MLB the show 12.  I love baseball, I love MLB the show, and the idea of a mobile show made me gitty.  I am at my local GameStop at 11:50PM for the Mass Effect 3 release, I finish showing my receipt and the clerk asks if I want to get anything while im here, and even mentions to me that I could get MLB the show with Mass Effect if I wanted.  I declined.  I want it digitally. I can wait a few more hours, I'll be playing Mass Effect anyway.
When I get home I am checking my Vita about every 15 to 20 minutes so I could at least start the download before I go to bed.  at about 1AM est. I figured they must release it on Pacific time.  I focus on Mass Effect until about 3AM, Midnight Pacific and again start checking every 15-20 minutes between reaper encounters to see if they it available for purchase.  Nothing.
Finally at about 4AM I can barely keep my eyes open, I check one last time before going going to sleep.  /sigh
I am up at about 08:15, groggy and immediately rush to my vita to get the download started while I am in the shower.  No update.  Nothing.  Not available for download.  I have a few cups of coffee and hit Mass Effect again for a few hours, checking occasionally hoping to get my download started.  At about 10:30 I start to worry about getting the game at all.  I do an in store pickup at best buy, in stock. Whew.  I get the confirmation email stating "unfortunately we could not find your product"  Crap.  Cancel order.  I call two local GameStop's that show in stock online "Sorry bro, just sold the last one"  *&*%
Call a GameStop that shows "limited stock" online that's about a 25 minutes away that I know is SLOOOOW. I call, they have it, and he'll hold it for me.  Whew.  I check one last time to see if its avail for download.  Nothing. 
Game in hand, and regret for spending 100.00 on a memory card bubbling over.  I continue to check my Vita in-between games and MLB the show does not come avail. on the play station store until after 9PM est.. 
I love my Vita.  It does exactly what I want a handheld to do, but its also billed as a hardcore gaming device for Hardcore gaming fans.  Its not angry birds, its Uncharted.  If this stuff didn't matter, there wouldn't have been 60 people picking up Mass Effect 3 at midnight on Monday night, or the 500 people at the best buy picking up MW3 in this past November. 
Sony makes more money on Digital downloads.  they don't have to physically produce a game or share the cut with retailers, but if they want the hardcore gaming market downloading via PSN, they are going to need to provide the consumer with the product much earlier, not 13 hours after Wal-Mart does.