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Potentially brilliant: Vita’s wasted 3G dreams

Friday, 3rd May 2013 09:12 GMT By Brenna Hillier

The lack of decently implemented 3G functions in a console all about connectivity is just another reason why Brenna’s Vita is getting pretty dusty.

I’ve used all these apps, and more, and really liked them – but I use them at home, connected to my WiFi, because they all require an Internet connection to function.

I really like the Vita, as I’ve mentioned many times. There aren’t enough games, which is a shame, because it’s a lovely little device. I love playing it sprawled out in bed – remote play is a fantastic way to utilise for my poor old, couch-less PlayStation 3 – and its lovely screen makes it a very pleasant portable media player. But with all that in mind, I’m thinking of swapping it out for a 3DS.

There are a couple of games on the 3DS which I’m interested in, but what really attracts me to the 3DS is StreetPass. I know that’s silly; it’s just a social app – but I like the idea of shoving the portable in my bag and coming home to find a bunch of little presents waiting for me. Wherever else it may have dropped the ball, Nintendo’s been very clever with connectivity on the 3DS.

Sony, not so much, and the heartbreaking issue is that it came so close. I have half a dozen apps on my Vita which encourage social interaction in various clever ways, and I greatly enjoy using them. For example, there’s Near, a piece of system software that lets you check out what other people around you are playing and pick up exclusive little treasures; Treasure Park, a puzzle game which uses near to swap new boards with other users; and t@g, which lets you decorate the world around you without copping a vandalism fine.

I’ve used all these apps, and more, and really liked them – but I use them at home, connected to my WiFi, because they all require an Internet connection to function. You can’t just register your location with the GPS and then come home and see what you got; you have to stop, take the Vita out, and check in manually.

This is a right pain because, of course, it’s not like free WiFi spots are that common. And the Vita’s incredibly promising 3G connectivity is – well, it’s not great.

I’ve found the Vita’s 3G simply too slow, too patchy, and too expensive to be worthwhile. Assuming I can get a signal, I have to sit watching wait icons spin, and if I dare to download anything or – gasp – attempt multiplayer, I run out of credit almost immediately. This could just be a problem with local telcos, but it must be said that my Android, by virtue of design as a dedicated 3G device, does a much better job of finding and holding a network, and doesn’t seem to chew through my data plan anywhere near as quickly.

In the end, 3G almost seems like too much trouble. Very few actual games make use of it in interesting ways, and even switching it on is a pain, sending you trawling through menus – unless you want it to sit there constantly active, draining the battery and your credit at an almost identical and quite spanking pace. The whole affair seems so unnecessary, cumbersome and painful that it’s no wonder Sony seem set to axe it all together.

And that’s a damn shame. At announce, the Vita sounded so promising, but all that potential hasn’t been capitalised on. The promise of home console quality games has gone largely undelivered. The touch screens turned out to be a bit of a gimmick which gets in the way of gaming rather than enhancing it. And even the system’s most interesting and endearing functions, like 3G connectivity, are just a little bit too shitty to bother with.

There are some fantastic gems in the Vita’s catalogue and it’s a lovely piece of hardware. Here’s hoping we see something bright in the portable’s future in between all the PS4 hoopla at E3 in June.

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25 Comments

  1. Goffee

    With all these indie developers flocking to Sony here’s hoping one of them comes up with a moment-of-genius 3G-enabled gaming idea, but with the 3G installed base so small, who would buy it?

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Dragon246

    “You can’t just register your location with the GPS and then come home and see what you got; you have to stop, take the Vita out, and check in manually.”
    Really? My location wasn’t detected by Vita, so I manually inserted the coordinates using Google Map and Near worked perfectly since then.

    On the whole I agree with this article. Although I never saw 3G as a worthwhile addition from the start and therefore bought the wi-fi version.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. Francis O

    I think the Vita just needs games, not all this 3G Bullshit. The PSP didn’t need 3G, the 3DS doesn’t have 3G. 3G is a non factor for portable gaming.

    It’s a games system, not a cellphone. Sony, make God of War, Grand Turismo, and Gravity Rush 2 then watch the sales go up in America.

    For Japan, get more 3rd parties on board to make exclusive RPGs. Soul Sacrifice is good, but it’s not enough. If and when they do these things, the Vita will get on track.

    3G needs to be the last of Sony’s worries at the moment. It’s all about games.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. Templar_Dante

    Well, Brenna, the 4G LTE Vita will be announced at E3 (patented Jan2013) and you can bet it wont be wasted. Especially with Gaikai integration.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. gamezpad

    You can tether the PSVita via bluetooth ( I use my Iphone personal hotspot as a wifi and link) so no need for 3g :) #gamezpad

    #5 1 year ago
  6. DrDamn

    @3
    3G is an enabler for the games though, and done right it’s good. The problem is the games can use it in cunning and interesting ways all they like but the implementation on the OS side is clunky. Asynchronous multiplayer for a portable device is good, daily tournaments in Everybody’s Golf for example help extend the longevity of the game well past completing the core SP challenge mode.

    I got a 3G version but actually usage wise for that sort of gameplay I was only just hitting 12Mb in a month. I couldn’t find a tariff I thought was good value.

    #6 1 year ago
  7. Christopher Jack

    @Francis O, I totally disagree with your first paragraph. While 3G itself is dated, mobile internet could have great potential when it comes to portable online gaming.

    The issue at the moment, in my opinion, are the network providers, they offer you fuck all data at ridiculously large prices- at least in Australia. Coverage also needs improvement & what mobile data can’t reach there SHOULD be wifi available.

    The internet has literally unlimited potential & being able to access it on the go opens so many opportunities, I just think it’s naive to think it won’t have a place in portable gaming. I remember when people still believed the internet was pointless, multiplayer gaming was pointless, mobile internet was useless, broadband was useless, watching online content was an impossibility- we’ve grown well beyond all those misconceptions.

    The issue with the internet right now is that here in Aus we’re trying to build fibre everywhere & the opposing government party are looking to win the next election & if they do so they’ll finish the job with the current copper because ‘we don’t need fibre RIGHT NOW’ it’s not right now that you build future proof infrastructure for although even now the copper is proving an issue, right now I’m having trouble maintaining a consistent connection because of it…

    #7 1 year ago
  8. Lengendaryboss

    Whats very strange and creepy is i agree with the Guardian Angel: Francis which doesn’t happen very often. I didn’t buy the PS Vita for 3G hell i didn’t splash out extra £50 for the 3G version, (but i am not sure if the PS Vita needs it) i bought the PS Vita first and foremost for the games, then the entertainment/social options: Youtube, Facebook and the Internet. What we need is more games, Sony have GOW, GT and theres already a potential Soul Sacrifice sequel (the prequel i am still waiting for) and a rumored Gravity Rush sequel (I plan to buy GR1 this month).

    Great article Brenna, the PS Vita touch screen gimmicks as we all know we will suffer for the foreseeable future, the 3G factor is wasted potential and too be honest i see Sony phasing it out in newer models and Console quality gaming could very well be achieved with Killzone Mercenary and hers hoping Sony don’t neglect the PS Vita at E3 like last year which might be difficult because of PS3, PS4 and PS Vita games, so their focus has to be split between all three or one of those three suffer.

    #8 1 year ago
  9. spatuluk

    I bought a non-3G Vita, and use my phone as a hotspot (as I did with my PSP and netbook).

    Good signal, good coverage, good data plan, good speeds.. I suppose it’s a shame that I couldn’t give a monkey’s about the social apps that Sony keep pooing out. (also, I wonder if 4G phones can be used as hotspots…)

    #9 1 year ago
  10. FeaturePreacher

    3g is completely unnecessary if you do the smart thing and tether from your phone.

    There are plenty of titles available for the vita. Uncharted, Mortal kombat, Escape Plan, Ninja Gaiden Sigma1 & 2 +, DOA5, and the list goes on and on. With plenty more to come later in the year, I can’t see any reason to stop playing the vita.

    The only thing that should be fixed is to integrate 16 gb of storage into the device.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. lexph3re

    Bre your problem with the 3G comes in 2 forms. Teleco which you can’t really do anything about. and, data maintenance which You can do something about. If your running out of data its because your running back ground task and updates. Which can be turned off in the settings area.

    But the near function works just like street pass. If you configure it right all you have to do is open it and it picks up everyone in a 3 mile radius of where you are. I remember having my 3G on when i was traveling around and I found 100s of people and saw shat they were playing and what not.

    i even was added by some to play the games on my list. I have some pretty okay friende now that i even play games with like Rag and Soul Sacrifice. But the whole no games bit really doesn’t work anymore its like a pointless nit pick

    #11 1 year ago
  12. Belmont

    So,Brenna is excited to change its Vita for a far more out dated console with even less technology and connectivity in it? Interesting. I also think hooking your PS3 to one of those PlayStation displays and using a headphone can solve the couch problem well enough. Why Brenna always discusses things you have many solutions for?
    I have tried 3G on the Vita myself and it is a long way from perfect.I blame Sony for anything related to antennas and cellular stuff.To some degree I find it to be a problem from providers,there aren’t that many Vitas out there so the data plans are not good.The idea of using you smartphone as hotspot is feasible too, but I think its not all that perfect.I need my phone and its battery for other things.

    #12 1 year ago
  13. Christopher Jack

    @10, Why’d you tether from your phone? That’s just asking to destroy your battery. Though it would be useful if both devices could share the same data. When I bought my mobile phone on a plan, I asked for additional data & they gave me a USB internet stick that shared the same quota.

    #13 1 year ago
  14. polygem

    fuck the always online, social app, urban lifestyle. just yesterday i almost killed someone who multitasked himself through this world, having a coffee a cigarette and a dog on a leash while typing some shit into his smartphone. you better watch where you are going instead from time to time! i bought a non 3g vita because it is a statement that had to be made :) now give me the freaking medievil vita game will yaaa?!!! because i am as out of date as sir dan. so what.

    :)

    #14 1 year ago
  15. Dragon246

    @lex,
    Agreed. I laugh every time I hear Vita has no games, then look at my Vita backlog and cry.

    #15 1 year ago
  16. NeoSquall

    Brenna if you’re looking to give your Vita away, why don’t give it to someone who actually wants it?
    I.e.: me :D

    #16 1 year ago
  17. OlderGamer

    “But with all that in mind, I’m thinking of swapping it out for a 3DS.

    There are a couple of games on the 3DS ”

    I believe that price is king in most consumer electronics. But when it comes to consoles, home or handheld, games are a very close second.

    As for 3G?

    I agree with Francis, pointless at its current state. As for bad telcos..sure but they are a given varrible in the 3G conversation. The same way sunshine would effect the value of installing solor power panels. If you can’t get enough daily sun, your not getting the value.

    #17 1 year ago
  18. theevilaires

    “I’m thinking of swapping it out for a 3DS”.

    Ummm you can’t have both? And Vita has a ton of games you can play just not at retail and not any new stuff but digital wise you should be in great shape with PS+. You’re really only limited by the size of your storage card.

    Getting rid of the Vita before the PS4 comes out is just plain dumb. We don’t know the connectivity benefits the two can have for each other and like a few guys above said the indie scene should open up and hopefully support the Vita as well as the PS4 with Xross Play stuff.

    As far as 3G goes I do agree with you there. the Viat should have had at least 4G and all the background verification on the Vita is ANNOYING AS SHIT! Seriously it always has to check if your system is hacked and I know thats what its doing and I hate it. SONY you need to fix that shit ASAP because it is a pain. Vitas online connectivity whether its 3G or Wifi is not a smooth transaction.

    And I agree with Lex the whole Vita has no games isn’t justifiable only by those who hate SONY of course and don’t own a Vita so they have no idea what they’re talking about. Like I said upgrade to a 32GB (yes I know it hurts all that money for only 32GB) and you’ll be fine digitally.

    Heres a little trick I do so I have games ready to copy back to my Vita fast if I delete something for space. I download multiple copies of a Vita game on my PS3 and let them just sit in bubble form (uninstalled form). When I finish a game or want to play another one its already there for easy fast copying to Vita. Saves you time and stress.

    #18 1 year ago
  19. OlderGamer

    I agree that if handheld gaming is your thing, perhaps for lack of a couch! Then yeah owning both systems makes a lot of sense. Most of us have multiple consoles. Not much difference.

    #19 1 year ago
  20. PEYJ

    The present and the future for Vita regarding games concerns Playstation Mobile, High-end Indies and PS4 remote play. Personally I don’t care for the latter but I think it’s going to be a big selling point. And I agree with theevilaires: there are lots of games – especially when talking downloads.

    #20 1 year ago
  21. Francis O

    Any who thinks 3G is needed to enable gaming to go to better places needs to sit down and go through the PSP and 3DS libraries.

    3G is a non factor for portable gaming. People care about games more.

    @Legendaryboss

    We mainly disagree when it comes to Nintendo, because this site is full of trolls who love Sony for the most part. All you have to do is look at the comments section of negative Nintendo news to Positive Nintendo news. If it’s negative, there will be 50+ of people bitching. If it’s positive news, there be like 8 comments.

    #21 1 year ago
  22. DrDamn

    @21
    So just because a back catalog didn’t need it then it’s pointless? I wouldn’t say it’s *needed* but it’s damn useful and it can enhance some stuff.

    #22 1 year ago
  23. lexph3re

    Also, Vita uses the same 3G data plans as iPhone/Pad/pod. So if you are having issues the device itself is at the same exact standards as they are for the protocols. Meaning any Telco issues are indeed At&t not the device.

    #23 1 year ago
  24. fuchikoma

    I got a Wi-fi Vita and I was really disappointed that Near is pretty much entirely useless. I don’t know what #2 is talking about – I’ve bookmarked a “home” location in Maps, but there’s absolutely no way to relay that to Near – on the rare occasion my Vita can get a location for me, it thinks I’m over 2800km away in the USA. (My Vita has probably travelled about 30km in its lifetime, but it thinks it’s gone 13,749km…)

    I’m in Canada though, so when I bought it, 3G versions weren’t even for sale, and the idea of a 3G connected game system is a complete non-starter anyway. That’s for the guys driving $70,000 luxury cars up here – it’s bad enough dishing $60/mo for under 1GB on a smartphone plan, and I apparently have it pretty cheap compared to most. A data plan for a secondary gadget is like caviar for your dog.

    #24 1 year ago
  25. theevilaires

    ^ I feel sorry for you that you’re Canadian….could be worst though. Just be grateful you don’t have a British accent. Depending on where you live in Moose land you should have just came down and crossed the border and got a USA 3G Vita. I know my friends up their hate the data plans because you guys get ripped off so bad…but at least health insurance is free so hey right :P

    #25 1 year ago

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