How the Sony PS Vita Will Work

By: Wesley Fenlon

How the PS Vita Hardware Impacts Games

All the technical changes between the PSP and PS Vita mean gaming on the Vita will be significantly different from the PSP experience. Bolstered by its quad-core processor, the PS Vita outputs far more detailed graphics than ever seen before on a handheld. That's just an obvious surface-level change -- the hardware allows developers to cram more polygons into a single frame, which can lead to more exciting games, but ultimately a PS Vita 3-D action game will look quite a bit like a PSP 3-D action game. The extra control methods worked into the PS Vita's design are a more significant step forward.

The PS Vita 's second joystick, touchscreen and rear touchpad allow game developers to create new opportunities for interactivity. For example, first-person shooter games on home consoles rely on two joysticks for simultaneous control of movement and looking around. With the PSP's single joystick, that control layout wouldn't work, but the PS Vita can handle it. The touch controls represent a more radical change and give developers access to input methods typically seen on smart phones and tablets, and with the PS Vita's accelerometer and gyroscope, Sony can encourage phone game makers to bring their downloadable games to the PlayStation Network. Sony has already demonstrated how motion and touch controls can work in PS Vita games: the protagonist of "Uncharted" swings on ropes when the handheld is tilted back and forth and climbs ropes when the back touchpad registers up and down finger motions [source: Joystiq].


Because the PS Vita offers traditional video game controls in the form of joysticks and buttons, many games will still rely on those old standbys rather than reinvent themselves with touch- and motion-based experiences. Nevertheless, Sony now has a carrot to dangle in front of the mobile developers who have been making big money on Apple's iOS platform. Despite its powerful hardware, the PS Vita will play host to a broad range of games: Some development studios will try to match the graphics and gameplay of PlayStation 3 console games, while others will sell casual downloadable apps like "Angry Birds" on the PlayStation Network. Major development studios will have one more hardware change to look forward to with the PS Vita: Sony has ditched the Universal Media Disc (UMD) format it invented for the PSP and replaced it with flash memory, which brings with it improved storage capacity and shorter load times.