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Data Storage Handhelds PlayStation (Games) Portables (Games) Sony Games

Discouraging Playstation Vita Details 275

Posted by Soulskill
from the blaming-the-media dept.
itwbennett writes "Sony's new handheld gaming system, the Playstation Vita, launches in Japan in two weeks, and the latest report from Andriasang has some interesting details, including Sony's decision to go with proprietary memory cards. Sony says this is both for security reasons and to ensure a consistent experience for all users, but that 'doesn't explain why they're charging such enormous sums for these cards,' says blogger Peter Smith. 'The caveat here is that we haven't seen official pricing for the cards, but game retailer Gamestop lists them at $120 (!!) for a 32 GB card, $70 for a 16GB, $45 for 8 GB and $30 for a 4 GB.'"
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Discouraging Playstation Vita Details

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  • First (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:17PM (#38271826)

    which is why I don't buy Sony anymore...

    • Re:First (Score:5, Informative)

      by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@gmai l . com> on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:28PM (#38272016) Homepage Journal

      This also isn't news. When they announced the device months ago they said it would use proprietary memory, and people reported that memory would be really expensive.

      The device itself is selling at $250, which really isn't a bad price for the hardware if you look at it. I suspect they're selling the device for a loss and trying to make their money back with the storage.

      • by spd_rcr (537511) on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:57PM (#38272520) Homepage

        This is hardly news. Sony has always gone the proprietary memory format and they have always been much more expensive than the generic equivalent. Is Sony even all that relevant anymore ? I could barely give away my PSP (slim) and don't get me started on the current PS3 with it's ridiculous looking motion controllers is utterly lame next to playing Kinect games on the Xbox.
        If the Vita also doubled as a decent phone, gps, and camera, I might take a look at it, but who really needs another web enabled device to lug around. My Windows Phone already ties in with my Xbox and has some entertaining away from the PC/Xbox games ... and it's a day away from getting even more integrated with my Xbox.
        http://www.engadget.com/2011/12/05/xbox-companion-app-for-wp7-will-launch-alongside-the-new-dashboa/ [engadget.com]

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Mordermi (2432580)

          Is Sony even relevant? The sales of the PS3 have almost caught up to the Xbox 360, even with being released a year later. Yes, the Playstation Move is really lacking.. But Sony is still a big player in the game.

          • by Belial6 (794905)
            The Playstation and 360 have been out long enough that the year lead is pretty much a non-issue at this point.
            • Indeed. What matters more at this point is how many more consoles sony will be able to push until the 360 gets retired by the 720. Sony did produce a superior console but pretty much shot themselves in the foot with the 12-18 month delay to the 360. The console that still has juice in it might well be the PS3 and that's what I have installed in my living room but as I see it microsoft has set its eyes on leaping sony with shorter console lifetimes and so once the PS3 starts making a lead they will push out

              • by neokushan (932374) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @05:04AM (#38277522)

                Sony did produce a superior console[citation needed]

                Fixed that for you. I see this argument thrown around a lot, but aside from some figures on how fast the CELL is, nobody can really say for sure that either console is "superior".
                Sure, it has a few exclusives that look fantastic, nobody's going to try and say the console isn't powerful, but the multiplatform games released are either identical, or favour the 360 (sometimes only slightly, sometimes by large degrees), with the odd exception.
                Sales certainly haven't been "superior", figures released last week show that the 360 basically sold twice as many units as the PS3 in the US (of course, you'll have to take Patcher's word on that one). Half the reason the PS3 caught up is because the Japanese refuse to buy the Microsoft console, but most other markets favour the 360. In any case, if the PS3 was really "superior", it'd have caught up by now. That 12-18month lead isn't really an excuse any more, it has been 5 years and counting - if it was "superior", it'd have trounced the 360 by now.

                Now before you get defensive, I'm not actually saying the 360 is better, it's certainly not "superior". It has some features the PS3 doesn't have, like the ability to stream music while ingame (while most PS3 games can't even PLAY music while ingame, nevermind streaming it), but so does the PS3 - Blu-ray, Linux (oh wait, nevermind) and such. The point I'm trying to make is that I think this generation of consoles can easily be classed as a stalemate - a draw, as it were. And I'm fine with that, it means that for once you don't have to own both major consoles to get enough great games through the year (if you're a hardcore gamer, that is) and the best, or at least most popular titles, have all been multi-platform.

                Of course, the latter paragraph does fall apart if you mention the Wii, which is easily far more popular but a notably inferior console.

    • Re:First (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Firehed (942385) on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:45PM (#38272324) Homepage

      It's not like it should come as a surprise to anyone that Sony has chosen to create yet another proprietary format (and attempted to lock it down beyond simply being incompatible with anything else). They got away with it in the '80s and '90s because they actually made good hardware and the concept of interoperability barely existed. The only time they've had any real success with it was Blu-Ray, and I'm sure that hasn't seen the adoption they'd like since legal download services so shortly after its introduction, and their attempts to force it down everyone's throats have certainly been expensive. Today the reverse is true - their products tend to be sub-par and we increasingly expect stuff to work across our devices, but they're still stuck in the past.

      • by Dogtanian (588974) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:00PM (#38273404) Homepage

        They got away with it in the '80s and '90s because they actually made good hardware and the concept of interoperability barely existed.

        Not quite, remember Betamax? That was a fairly large case of interoperability- or at least support- being an issue, and Sony *not* getting away with it.

        The only time they've had any real success with it was Blu-Ray

        AFAIK, that isn't proprietary to the same extent, at least not in the sense that Sony almost unilaterally own and are pushing it. (Though I appreciate that they have one of the largest stakes in that business).

        Today the reverse is true - their products tend to be sub-par and we increasingly expect stuff to work across our devices, but they're still stuck in the past.

        Sony squandered what could have been a major lead in what became the MP3 audio market, and ended up being left behind.

        In theory, MiniDisc could have been something akin to a proto-MP3 player almost a decade before (worthwhile versions of) the latter became commonplace. Some sort of very basic filesystem- just enough to let music files be copied to and from the device- would probably have been doable without increasing the technological complexity of the MiniDisc that much. Given that most people didn't have computers with enough storage to benefit from that back then, perhaps that was an understandable omission.

        However, their tying it down beyond what people would have seen was technologically possible and desirable even then- i.e. forcing real-time dubbing, restricting what could be done digitally with copying, etc.- blatantly crippled the potential of the system for their own reasons, making it a slightly improved digital version of the standard cassette, but little more. The Japanese went for it, but its success was limited elsewhere.

        Then when MP3 came along, they dragged their feet for ages- maybe because they saw this as a paradigm-shift threat to their existing portable players, not realising that the *real* threat was that the market was going that way anyway, and that they could join it ASAP or lose their lead. Of course, they *did* lose their market-leading position, to Apple. "iPod" was the success story of the first decade of this millennium, not some next-generation solid-state "Walkman".

        Even after all this, they joined in in a half-baked cynical manner, trying to play things the old way while looking like they were embracing the new. Remember those stupid pseudo-MP3 players that required you to convert all your files to ATRAC via their crappy software before they'd support them? (No, I don't care whether that version of ATRAC was better than MP3 or not- by that point everyone had settled on MP3, Sony had *already* lost their opportunity to dictate what the market would use, and this move was just a mixture of NIH and arrogance).

        So, Sony lost the portable audio market through their own arrogance, short-termist self interest, NIHism and generally blinkered short-sightedness... and they really, *really* have no-one to blame but themselves.

        • by LocalH (28506) on Monday December 05, 2011 @09:11PM (#38274924) Homepage

          They got away with it in the '80s and '90s because they actually made good hardware and the concept of interoperability barely existed.

          Not quite, remember Betamax? That was a fairly large case of interoperability- or at least support- being an issue, and Sony *not* getting away with it.

          Betamax turned into [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betacam]Betacam[/url] and dominated the professional market in ways JVC only dreamed of.

          Not to invalidate your point about Sony and proprietary media. The PS2 Memory Cards are glaring examples, easily supporting higher capacities (when properly designed) but Sony only ever released 8MB cards officially (even still, a brand new one is something like $20 at retail?).

        • by adolf (21054)

          Agreed, pretty much, on all points.

          One small addition:

          In theory, MiniDisc could have been something akin to a proto-MP3 player almost a decade before (worthwhile versions of) the latter became commonplace. Some sort of very basic filesystem- just enough to let music files be copied to and from the device- would probably have been doable without increasing the technological complexity of the MiniDisc that much. Given that most people didn't have computers with enough storage to benefit from that back then, p

  • Old skool (Score:5, Funny)

    by Toe, The (545098) on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:17PM (#38271836)

    So, um, does it take phone calls and run millions of apps? Or is it just some kind of limited gaming platform?

  • "Security" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ksd1337 (1029386) on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:17PM (#38271842)
    "Security" = trying hard to make sure consumers can't jailbreak their own devices.
    • Re:"Security" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sohmc (595388) on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:24PM (#38271954) Journal

      This isn't so much about security as it is about a consistent revenue stream. They're following the "Gillette" model where they take a loss with their actual product, but make up the money in the sale of accessories.

      Sony is notorious for this. They have memory sticks that only work with Sony products. This is why I will never buy a Sony product.

      • Re:"Security" (Score:5, Insightful)

        by what2123 (1116571) on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:28PM (#38272022)
        The difference with Gillette is that they sold you a product that did exactly what you wanted it to. Sony seems to keep selling things that do something one day, then as if it was a game, take away features to make it less-usable then the previous day.
        • Re:"Security" (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Golddess (1361003) on Monday December 05, 2011 @06:09PM (#38272684)

          Sony seems to keep selling things that do something one day, then as if it was a game, take away features to make it less-usable then the previous day.

          I dislike Sony as much as anyone else here, but OtherOS is the only thing I've seen like what you've just described. What other things have they taken away from products after purchase?

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Playstation 2 slim dropped support for a hard drive making it incompatible with FFXI and had several backwards compatibility problems withe PS1 games that the original PS2 did not.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            SACD playback.

            The ability to play media across a LAN unfettered (legally-ripped Bluray movies that contain Cinavia will mute audio on purpose or even halt playback). Cinavia was not included in the earlier system software versions. It was forced upon us at a later date.

            -AC

          • by kyrio (1091003)
            They dropped MiniDisc support for doing pretty much anything.
          • Re:"Security" (Score:5, Insightful)

            by antifoidulus (807088) on Monday December 05, 2011 @08:08PM (#38274304) Homepage Journal
            It doesn't matter, they have set a precedent that is incredibly off-putting. If they didn't want to put it in future products, fine whatever, but the fact that they would go and intentionally disable a product I already paid money for is unforgivable. Imagine if you bought a swiss army knife then after you already paid money for it the company came and demanded that it be allowed to remove the screwdriver from the knife... yeah the knife still works for the most part, but now it does less than it did when you paid for it, and the company went out of its way to do so. So what is to prevent them from removing features in the future? Maybe they don't want to support the 3g modem on the vita in a few years, just push out an update that removes that functionality. No problem right?
      • by Dogtanian (588974)

        They're following the "Gillette" model where they take a loss with their actual product, but make up the money in the sale of accessories.

        I hear this a lot, but I will note that nowadays when I see those Gillette razor "starter" kits, (typically the metal handle, a couple of blades, and a mini can of foam), they don't seem to be *that* cheap. Not saying they're expensive, but given that the metal and plastic handles can't cost *that* much to make, I honestly don't think they're taking a loss on them.

        That said, I do remember getting sent something similar free of charge (and unsolicited) from Gillette around my 16th birthday, and I'm still u

      • by bug1 (96678)

        "This isn't so much about security as it is about a consistent revenue stream."

        Financial security.

    • Re:"Security" (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Starteck81 (917280) on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:30PM (#38272082)

      "Security" = trying hard to make sure consumers can't jailbreak their own devices.

      Anyone who is surprised by this has obviously forgotten the whole root kit episode. Sony, I buy as few of your products as I can now.

      • by kyrio (1091003)
        So you buy none of their products? No one needs to buy a Sony product. It is a choice to buy it, from beginning to end.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:17PM (#38271844)

    Sony loves proprietary formats and the market is awash in cheap storage. This is a way to make memory valuable again, but I won't be surprised if someone is demoing a way to use SD cards on the thing within a year of launch.

    • by rwven (663186) on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:21PM (#38271916)

      The problem is that in today's market, with so many viable alternatives for mobile gaming entertainment, the insane cost of memory is going to be a deal breaker for most users.

      Sure it has pretty graphics, but that's almost certainly going to be the one-and-only thing going FOR the Vita. I can't think of a single other argument in support of buying one of these.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Synerg1y (2169962)

        Actually, the system is probably targeted at kids than a hardcore IT community like slashdot. Kids have a much easier time begging $100 out of their parents than we have justifying on a product we know is not worth it. The PSP was a dud in this sense, the IT community was able to hack it and trick it out, suddenly you had a 5 year old playing kingdom hearts on it and a 25 year old using a custom browser to access pandora, or bring it on a flight to watch movies. Don't believe me? Look no further than to

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by hairyfeet (841228)

          That's funny, i have several customers as well as a couple of family members that bought PSPs and all bought them for their kids and i can't think of a single one that would be "hacked'. Honestly despite all the talk here on geek sites i bet hacked devices don't even add to up 3% of ANY device out there besides the iPhone, simply because normal folks are too scared they are gonna break the thing and don't have the tech skills required.

          I doubt Sony fanboys will want to hear this but not a single customer ha

      • This isn't so much a deal breaker for me, I think it's a ridiculously bad idea on Sony's part. This is assuming this is how it all actually pans out.

        The real deal breaker for me is if they don't deliver games. I can live with out having a pile of

  • Well ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by lennier1 (264730) on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:18PM (#38271860)

    Let's hope they'll invest some of that excess money into administrators who won't just leave the default passwords in place.

  • Playstation Vita: Do not want.

    Not much I want from Sony/Playstation nowadays.

  • Gouging (Score:5, Informative)

    by AragornSonOfArathorn (454526) on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:19PM (#38271886)

    If anyone is surprised by this, they don't know Sony.

    • Indeed. After what happened with the PS3, I know I am not buying any more Sony products. This is not a company that respects its customers.
  • Ahem... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moheeheeko (1682914) on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:20PM (#38271894)
    'doesn't explain why they're charging such enormous sums for these cards,'

    Because they can.

    • by rssrss (686344)

      Moheeheeko: 'doesn't explain why they're charging such enormous sums for these cards,' 'Because they can.'

      They can charge anything they ant to charge. That does not compel anyone to purchase the gizmos. Right now their US sales are zero, and they may stay that way.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:20PM (#38271900)

    This just means that someone in China will be making money off selling an adapter for microSD cards.

  • Apple must use them (Score:5, Informative)

    by Warwick Allison (209388) on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:24PM (#38271966) Homepage

    Apple does exactly the same thing with iPad and iPhone prices, but doesnt let you swap the mysteriously expensive memory "cards". Clearly it's all about the value to the consumer, not the cost of manufacture.

    • by wfolta (603698)

      Apple does exactly the same thing with iPad and iPhone prices, but doesnt let you swap the mysteriously expensive memory "cards". Clearly it's all about the value to the consumer, not the cost of manufacture.

      Huh? The iPhone and iPad have been competitive on the price front, and in fact it's taken two generations of the iPad for a viable challenger to emerge based on cost. Heck, Apple's the only manufacturer to stand up to the carriers and demand a better experience for users. All the other manufacturers -- including Google -- treat the carriers as the customers and please them first.

      • I'm an admitted apple fan-boy, but do you really think it costs Apple anywhere near $100 to give you an extra 16 gigs of storage on iPhone and iPad?
        • by StikyPad (445176) on Monday December 05, 2011 @06:45PM (#38273176) Homepage

          Not at all. It's market segmentation 101. It's the same reason Intel's top-of-the-line chip costs twice as much as the next lower model but only performs a few single percentage points better. (And because of binning, each chip actually costs the same amount to produce.) Anyway, you create one market segment for people who can only afford to pay a lower price for your product, then you give a little extra value to people who can pay more so they can feel superior despite the fact that they just paid significantly more for what is essentially the same product. It's actually insulting to the buyer when you get down to it. Fortunately neither of the two groups who pay more are likely to complain. The first group doesn't want to violate the image, real or imagined, that they can afford to spend more, and the second group will usually rationalize their overspending by any means necessary to avoid admitting they made a bad decision. (These groups are not mutually exclusive).

        • by dopaz (148229)

          No, because the highest upgrade tier is +48GB for +$200 over the base tier.

  • This is Sony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:25PM (#38271976)

    The reason they're doing this is because fuck you.

  • At Least MS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AdamJS (2466928) on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:30PM (#38272060)

    At least Microsoft will actually tell you that they're trying to rip you off. Sony pretends like they're doing you a favor.

  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:30PM (#38272072)

    Invent cheap microSD to proprietary adapter
    Sell adapter bundled with SD cards for half Sony's price
    Profit
    ???
    Get sued by Sony

    • by tragedy (27079)

      Forget sued. The way they'll structure this, and with the various laws and treaties that have essentially been purchased, anyone doing that will probably be arrested.

  • Don't Like it... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jellomizer (103300)
    Don't Buy it.

    It is only a Video Game System. No one is forcing you to get one.
    I'm sorry I feel little pity for people who cry Foul because their Video Games cost too much.
    • Re:Don't Like it... (Score:5, Informative)

      by _xeno_ (155264) on Monday December 05, 2011 @06:24PM (#38272882) Homepage Journal

      You know, I really hate this type of comment.

      "If you don't like it, don't bother complaining, just don't buy it."

      Yeah, that will work. I have a better idea: let the company know why you're not buying it, and let other people know why you believe they shouldn't purchase it. That way the company has feedback on why people are refusing to buy their product, and the "invisible hand of the free market" is properly informed. Because don't forget, a proper free market involves informed customers, and people complaining about things they see as defects helps keep customers informed. (Which means that if someone is spreading lies about a product, sure, go ahead and debunk what they're saying.)

      Word of mouth is important. Telling people to shut up about things that they don't like is silly and counterproductive.

      Or, to invert your comment, if you don't care about high prices, don't bother complaining about people who do, just buy the expensive memory card. What do you care if other people don't?

  • If they do, I want them to know that there were a couple of times I wanted to buy a Sony digital camera, based on some feature or other it had.

    But then I realized the camera only worked with a more expensive Sony-proprietary memory card, so I bought another camera from a competitor that used industry standard memory cards that cost less money.

    Guess what I won't be buying?

    • Recently Sony gave up with their cameras and switched to SD cards like everybody else.

      Gaming, especially portables, is another market. Namely, young gamers who are too blinded by the latest gadgetry to worry about the little ways in which they're being gouged.

  • by sacdelta (135513) on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:34PM (#38272130)

    The only difference between the iPhone 4s 32Gb and 64 Gb is 32Gb of memory. The difference in price is $100. Are you all going to vilify Apple the same way for not including the ability to insert SD cards?

    • by AdamJS (2466928)

      An SD card, or rather, an expensive add-on is not [i]required[/i] for the core functionality of the iPhone.

      • by AdamJS (2466928)

        Ugh. Been posting on Ars too much lately.
        To follow up;
        the Vita requires a memory card in order to play certain games. As in, they won't even start up if they don't detect a memory card.

        • by sacdelta (135513)

          Yes, but you can function with one of the cheaper cards, you don't have to have the most expensive option.

    • by phorm (591458)

      Actually, I'd tend to be more annoyed about the decision to *not* support a removable storage card (or battery) at all.

      The price between 32GB and 64GB in terms of an SDHC card is actually >$100. For a high-speed SDHC card, even more-so an microSDHC card, it's huge.

      My big gripe is that when those become more affordable, iDevices don't have any upgrade option storage-wise except to replace the whole unit, which IMHO is incredibly wasteful (not to mention expensive, but I'm sure Apple is more than happy for

    • by steelfood (895457)

      Are you all going to vilify Apple the same way for not including the ability to insert SD cards?

      Yes.

      The difference is, the iPod has been out for nearly a decade now. There's been that many years of complaining about the lack of SD card functionality. It's fairly quiet now because it's clear Apple's not interested in including a memory card slot in the device, and the people who would otherwise be interested in Apple devices are no longer interested in them (meanwhile, everyone else just didn't care enough or caved).

      The Vita is a new product, and thus draws in a fresh round of criticism. It will simila

  • Listen, guys... of course they use proprietary memory for security. Remember when someone used an unauthorized HDD in their PlayStation last year, and took down the PSN? We don't want that again. So, to ward off the memory card threat, Sony will require you to purchase proprietary cards.

    On a more serious note, Sony seems to always have considered accessing your device's hardware a security problem, and have moved to revoke the times they granted that power.

  • Had the included SD cards, I would have considered buying one.
    I'm not paying Apple prices on memory cards.
  • by ianare (1132971) on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:55PM (#38272490)

    Vita will not be recognized as a mass storage device on your computer. You'll need to use a separate utility device.

    All for security, and giving dirty pirates no direct access to the device.

  • I always get the impression with Sony that a dept carefully gestates their baby - and then the moment it pops out, every dept gets a crack at abusing it.
    I presume this all started as somebody designed the thing to be media free, after the wonderful UMD on the PSP (I presume the minidisc dept has been canned, by now). So, it's going to be flash only, like the PSP-Go.
    You remember, it was like a PSP without the god-awful drive inflicted, but then you for forced to pay more for your device as the memory dept
  • bad news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bobtree (105901) on Monday December 05, 2011 @05:57PM (#38272530)

    This was on Kotaku yesterday: http://kotaku.com/5864910/digital-download-discount-for-vita-may-explain-sonys-memory-stick-plans [kotaku.com]

    The info is unconfirmed, but it says they're charging 40% less for downloads than games at retail and that's why the memory cards are more expensive. In other words, please pay up front so they can hold your money for you, and very probably the developers don't get a cut.

  • Although I'm wondering what kind of specs are they going to see out of these things. I'm guessing the MemoryStick Duo experience might have taught Sony a lesson about relying on fungible media. Both MSD and SD Cards have the massive downside of being a nice range of crap to awesome. By restricting the kinds of memory cards the Vita can take, I'm guessing they're trying to make the experience consistent. Like the Mini Disc. The specs of current generation discs were pretty consistent. So, say what you

  • Remember the Sony Memory Stick [wikipedia.org]? How did that work out?

    • by tsotha (720379)
      They decided to upgrade - instead of a memory stick it's a Memory Stick-It-To-Ya.
  • This has been the Sony mantra since forever. Proprietary, proprietary, proprietary.... That's also why we are seeing zero involvement of Sony in the open source field.
  • Sony used have a habit of selecting cryptic names like "Memory Stick" or "Memory Stick Pro," and "Home Theater in a Box" sticks in my mind. but they're cutting the crap this time so it is perfectly clear exactly what the products are. There calling it the Profit Card, with the future second generation to be named Pure Profit Card, though Box Of Ripoff is reportedly still in the running.

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