Sony released PlayStation Vita firmware version 1.8 on Tuesday. Huzzah, you say! Here comes all the sweet system stability and security improvements I’ve been waiting for! Stay your sarcasm though. Instead of the usual boring tweaks, this system update actually brings some much appreciated new content to Vita. Version 1.8 finally brings PSone Classics, dollops of ‘90s fun from Sony’s first system like Final Fantasy VII and Tomb Raider to the handheld. Vita owners with games already purchased on PSP and PS3 have much to celebrate as the ever gracious Sony won’t make you repurchase games for the handheld.
For anyone not detecting sarcasm there, Firmware 1.8’s new content support is appreciated on a system parched for games but it also sports consumer unfriendly features that are classic Sony.
The biggest flip off to Vita owners: Memory cards are now locked to a single PSN account. This means that on a Vita that’s shared, games and saves on the expensive, proprietary Memory Stick are tied to the PSN ID they were created/purchased using. Attempting to switch accounts on the Vita will format the Memory Stick.
To put this in practical terms, consider a Vita shared by two siblings. Brother and sister both play a downloaded copy of Mortal Kombat online with friends. Unless they buy a second Memory Stick, a $20 to $100 expense, they have to share a profile and saved game while playing online.
The idea is to prevent people from sharing downloaded content with anyone and everyone at will, but Sony’s fix is clumsy and shortsighted. The company needs to do everything it can to position Vita as a low cost proposition, and needing multiple memory cards for multiple users on the system won’t help them. (It’ll also confuse the hell out of potential Vita buyers.)
The other unsavory part of the update is that, as intimated at E3, just a scant 9 games can be purchased through the PSN Store on Vita. Far more are compatible with the device, including all Final Fantasy, Tomb Raider, Mega Man, and Resident Evil games, but they need to be transferred to Vita using a PlayStation 3. Meanwhile, in Europe and Japan, nearly complete PSone Classic libraries on the PlayStation Network are available for Vita owners.
Early adopters and serious hobbyists are the only Vita owners out there right now, Sony. Why work so hard to tick them off?