With the Sony and Nintendo press conferences over and the final name for the formally known NGP released and the Wii U shown by Nintendo some interesting things came to my mind. While there is not much known about the Wii U hardware itself so far besides only a few details there is plenty of info on the controller and the connection between the controller and the console itself. For people who didn`t follow the news, the controller is a touchscreen with buttons, camera and tilt sensors. The interesting thing for me is that Sony could very easy replicate most of the functions of the Wii U thanks to the NGP or as it is named now PS Vita.
The PSP had already limited functionality with the PS3 like streaming movies or music to the PSP, playing PS1 games on the PSP that are streamed from the PS3 or in rare cases use it as a controller for PS3 games like in Lair. While there are already plenty of cross platform functions unveiled for the Vita like sharing save files, content sharing between Vita and PS3 games and cross platform online gaming between those two platforms, Sony could replicate very well what Nintendo tries to do with the Wii U. The Vita has a touchscreen, even multi touch compared to the Wii U controller that does not support this, a camera, tilt sensors and it is actually better shaped to be used as a controller.
When the NGP was first unveiled I remember talking with people and thinking about what might be possible with the device combined with the PS3 like displaying the map on it or the inventory and quickly move trough the inventory by using the touchscreen. Those are things that are now shown with the Wii U. I haven`t seen the Vita yet in action and I don`t know what is exactly possible with the device, but if Sony finds a way to replicate most of the functions of the Wii U controller with the Vita this could give them a big advantage. Especially if there is an easy and cheap way for developers to move those functions from the Wii U across to the Vita/PS3 combo.
While it is not exactly the same compared to Wii U as it requires two systems it does give some advantages at the same time as the Wii U controller can not be used as a portable device and is required to be “near” (Nintendo did not specify how close both have to be together) the console. While the Vita is currently priced at 250 bucks by the time the Wii U comes out it could have seen a reasonable price cut. So if by that time Sony can replicate those functions and really push the support and it sees a big support by 3rd party this could end up in theory as a big win for Sony and fuel the Vita sales and cause some problems for Nintendo.
If the Vita could work the same way the Wii U controller does I could also see some advantages for Nintendo. The 3rd party support has always been a bit less good compared to other systems in recent years and the Wii has seen many games where the motion controls where not used to the best effects and very gimmicky. If there would be two systems that can do more or less the same and are at around the same level of hardware power it would be a lot more profitable for developers to use those new features to greater effect and spend more work on coming up with great ideas instead of just using it as a gimmick. So I could see a potential gain in software quality for the Wii U with a much bigger support compared to the Wii, while granted part of the issues of the Wii was outdated hardware. It`s just more likely that a company may not invest as heavy in a game when it is tailored towards the feature set of a single console.
Why spend X amount of dollars on a game that would work that way only on one console and requires a lot of changes to work on the other two. When the other option is to make a game with a reduced budget that works on all consoles and it`s easy and cheap to quickly throw in some features that are for a single console. Of course the market share of the individual systems also factors into this and the Wii U as a new console will have a low market share. So having an established system that shares a feature set would be a help regarding getting content to the system.
For Sony the advantage would be the possibility of extending the life of the PS3 further and taking more time with the PS4. If your current system already matches the feature set of the newly released hardware there would not be any rush required unless Microsoft comes out with the next system and has some great and unique features packed in. A much longer life for the PS3 would be a good thing for most of the people. After all Sony invested a lot of money to make the system and all the developers and publishers invested a lot of money due to the architecture of the system and there is still improvement in the games. Now people start to get something back from all that investment may it be money for the companies or higher quality games for the gamers. In that regard not many people would be unhappy if the next generation PlayStation is still far away as long as the current hardware sells good.
Uncharted 3 is one of those games that still get better, it looks amazing and better then the last one. Why not make Uncharted 4 with Vita support and have drakes journal displayed on the touchscreen where you can browse trough the pages just like you would browse trough the pages of a real life book. It would not be only a cool feature, but it would be also a useful one. The gameplay isn`t broken up by opening the journal menu and looking at it and memorizing symbols or similar things. Instead you could still play and at the same time look at the journal and comparing the notes with what is displayed on the big screen without interrupting the gameplay. In any Uncharted game so far the areas with puzzles are free of enemies so an interruption would not be necessary.
The Xbox 360 and the PS3 are by now a couple of years old and there is no denying the hardware shows it`s age when compared to current PC games, they are still well positioned with increasing sales year over year. If Sony can give people the same experience or even better experience. There are a lot of IF`s here and the biggest one is if Sony could make it possible for this kind of connectivity between the two devices. But there would be a lot of advantages for gamers that could get more unique gaming experiences on their PS3 and many companies would profit from that including maybe even Nintendo on the software support side. I certainly look forward to see what the Wii U can do and what might be possible with the PS Vita in combination with the PS3.