Physical titles are the best if you care about having trophies on the same PSN account as you use in your actual region.
However, in the case where a game you own a physical copy of will not be released in your region, you have to choose between trophies on your main account or Online Pass/DLC on a PSN account for a region in which that game is released.
If you’re going to go the Online Pass/DLC route, you might as well get a digital copy as it will likely be cheaper. Digital copies are a great deal for importers1, as you don’t have to pay shipping or a premium from an import game store, but it is a tremendous hassle to deal with2.
If you are planning to get aboard a plane, make sure you are logged in and activated to the PSN account holding the digital copies of games you want to play or the account bound to the save states for the physical games you want to play. You cannot swap PSN regions offline.
If PSN ever goes down for a long period of time like it did last year when it was getting hacked left and right, you will be stranded in the account you are logged into until it comes back.
Who knows how any of this will work after future firmware updates or when the Vita reaches end of life years from now.
It is not such a great deal for domestic users; yes, you get savings on certain publishers’ games, but you also have to pay for the memory card. If you get a 32GB one, you only start saving money after buying 20 games, assuming they all fit. ↩
Contrary to some reports, it is possible to do some crazy shit to get everything working on ONE memory card, but it still involves resetting the device completely. I believe I have found a workaround to that so you don’t have to endure watching that stupid intro video, but it still requires you to be online. ↩
Here are a few frustrating things about the new PlayStation Vita:
The thing everyone is saying, but it needs repeating: The initial setup assistant asks you if you want to use PlayStation Network. If you say yes, you cannot log in because of a pending firmware update… which you can’t get until after you’ve completed the initial setup assistant. The OS might as well check for firmware updates first, since that is pretty much a staple of Sony systems and no one will ever be able to take a Vita out of the box and log into their PSN account.
The thing that depresses the fuck out of me, but I saw it coming: Battery life. It sucks. I am amazed at just how shit battery life is on handheld gaming systems when iPhones1 get new features every year, get smaller every two years, and almost always see an increase in battery life.2 Even worse: I was playing Lumines earlier and got a low battery warning. That’s cool. Do you know how much time I can spend pushing my phone’s specs when I get a low battery warning? Two hours. How much time did it take before the screen blanked out on the Vita? Ten minutes. Good thing I didn’t really want to finish that high score run.
However: Unlike the PSP, which is practically incontinent when it comes to battery life, the Vita does not drain really quickly when it’s not in use3and if the Vita shuts down due to insufficient battery life, it will pick right back up where you left off when it gets the minimum charge needed. This means I haven’t actually lost my high score run.
The start button is amazingly hard to find when the lights are out. This is especially troubling if you are trying to pause a game of Lumines and blocks are stacking up quickly while you try and find the button. Just hit the PlayStation button instead.
Sony has a love for complicated chargers. Much like the PSP, they couldn’t just have a simple cable between the system and the outlet; they have you connect the Vita’s “multiuse connector” to a USB cable which is hooked up to a little box, which is hooked up to a cable that goes to the outlet. What a mess. (You can use the Vita-to-USB cable with the iPad charger if you have one and avoid the mess of cables that is Sony’s charger.)
The Vita’s multiuse connector only works in one way, but I have managed to accidentally plug in the cable the wrong way twice today. Please do not make symmetrical connectors for this very reason!
Not only is the entire operating system touch-only, but game developers seem pretty devoted to making their game menus be touch-only as well. This means dumb crap like skipping an explanation screen requires touching a specific target instead of simply mashing the X button. Menus should be usable with whatever means the game can be controlled with, so in the case of Lumines: buttons AND touchscreen.
The augmented reality stuff is horrible. I have tried two of the games that use the AR cards on the PlayStation Store: Cliff Diver, which I never got to work because it always says I am out of range, and Table Soccer, which does a pretty nice job of populating 3D models on your living room floor… and then throws the most ridiculous touch controls at you, making it impossible to complete the How to Play tutorial, let alone play the game.
Despite these gripes, the Vita is probably the best gaming hardware I have ever handled. The thing screams “polished premium product” when you hold it in your hands. The D-pad and the buttons feel absolutely sublime. The dual thumbsticks make you never want to go back to the stupid nub thing on the PSP.
Of course, hardware alone does not mean you should rush out and buy it; the games are what matters.
I do want to write some more on how I think the Vita fits in today’s world (spoilers: it doesn’t) and on how the gaming community seems to be reacting to reviewers comparing the Vita to iOS devices, but that’ll have to wait until another day.
Face it, Android battery life is fucking pathetic, and the only devices that even come close have to have five-inch AMOLED screens to accomodate a big enough battery to keep the phone running a decent amount of time. ↩
People accusing Apple of setting Safari’s default preferences to disable third-party cookies as a means of interfering with Google’s business are full of shit. The preference was decided on prior to there being any hard feelings whatsoever between Apple and Google.
There a ton of crazy bullshit conspiracy theories floating out there about how Safari’s settings are an attack on Google, an attack on the viability of ad-supported businesses on the Web, and how it’s all a play to give the iAd network an advantage against traditional Web ad networks.
Clearly, this has to be true even though a) the chronology doesn’t work out, b) most ad networks provide an opt-out feature that would effectively do the same as disabling third-party cookies to their business, and c) iAd is a dismal failure.
Here is my theory, which I can’t verify, but sounds totally plausible and Apple-like: Steve Jobs was a secretive person who didn’t particularly care for being tracked while he’s browsing the Web, and when Safari was being developed, he said third-party cookies should be off by default, and that is how it turned out.
Apple can shove dialog boxes in your face about allowing access to your address book all they want, it still would not resolve the most damning thing about the Path incident.
When users tap on a feature that is clearly labeled as being a friend finder that uses your contacts, then if a dialog pops up asking to allow the app to access their contacts, they will say yes. The problem with Path wasn’t that it was using contacts without our knowledge1; it was that they kept all contact data on their server and didn’t hash any of it.
No dialog box is going to prevent that, all it’s going to do is bug people.
Regulating data retention is a mess; Facebook used to have policies regarding that but it seems they realized how impossible it was to police and gave up, giving everyone free-for-all access to store user data as they’d like. The best Apple could do would be to enforce that any friend finding features in iOS apps use hashed email addresses and/or phone numbers and transfer data over SSL.
Unless you really think finding friends from your contacts can be done without looking at contacts at all. ↩
“It may be Valentine’s Day, but please don’t send the characters chocolate or anything… If you’re sending it anyway, please send it to the studio, not the TV station.”—Text surrounding sponsors’ names in this week’s episode of Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou, which is probably the best thing on this season.
"It’s worth noting that this change is unlikely to apply across the board. Vevo, for example, is apparently going to be able to keep its videos off iOS, and other large producers will probably have sufficient clout to strike their own deals as well."
Microsoft, did it never occur to you that the Task Manager is the boner killer in your blog posts and presentations?
It’s like Microsoft sees people out in the wild using the Task Manager at work every day and said “huh, this is a heavily used feature, we should improve it” instead of saying “huh, Windows crashes a lot and our third-party developers make buggy software, maybe we should look into making our stuff more stable”.
I understand the need for the Task Manager when stuff goes wrong, and there is useful information for developers in there, which is why I let it slide during the Build keynote, but goddamn, when just about everything awesome and new to get posted about Windows 8 has the Task Manager with its “HI MOM” sign in the background, it makes you question Microsoft’s priorities.
A really long read about why arcade games are awesome.
I have more or less stopped paying any attention to games that aren’t in the arcade or home versions of arcade games. It just kills me that arcades are dead out here.
(Insomnia is my new favourite gaming website. Yeah, I’m years late to the party, but luckily, most of the commentary on there is still valid. The only downside is how unorganized the site is; as far as I can tell, whole chunks of the site are inaccessible from their redesigned homepage, and there are dead links all over the place, but if you manage to get to those hidden bits, it’s so worth it.)