The PlayStation Vita TV. When I first read about it way back in September, when Sony quietly announced it under the radar at the Tokyo Game Show, a micro console that does everything the Vita does, being released November 14th, one day before the US launch of the PS4, I knew I had to have it. Hell I knew I had to have 3 of them, but we’ll get to that a little later, so I went to the absolute best place to import ‘Video Games’ from Japan Nin-Nin-Game.com and preordered one. I went for the standard model, ($120 with FedEx 2 day shipping) which comes with the unit and it’s cables only, rather than the Value Pack, ($170 with FedEx 2 day shipping) which comes with an extra white DualShock 3, an 8gb Vita memory card, and 3 months of PSN+ for your JP account for two reasons. One, god only knows how many extra DualShock 3 controllers and 8gb Vita memory cards I have lying around, and 2 I didn’t have a JP PSN account, so I figured the PSN+ would be a waste. So basically there was no reason to add to my collection of controllers and memory cards and have a PSN+ card for a region I didn’t have an account in, plus it would save me $50, which is another Vita game after all. 😉
Fast froward to the Vita TV’s release date, November 14th. Since Japan is 13 hours ahead of me, (I’m on the US’s east coast) I woke up and saw that my Vita TV had been shipped. “Awesome”. My Vita TV would be here on Monday, (the 14th was a Thursday and FedEx doesn’t deliver on weekends) but more importantly, when I got the email saying my Vita TV was on it’s way, as cool as it was, my mind was elsewhere. I was only thinking one thing really. 16 more hours until I get my hands on my PS4! I already had my hands on a copy of Knack and a second DualShock 4 (my local GameStop along with several other retailers started selling the PS4’s games and accessories early) and I was literally counting down the hours until I could go and pick it up. I kept myself busy during those 16 hours and away from the computer knowing that if I were to just read about the PS4 or Vita TV time would literally grind to a halt.
Friday morning, I burst through my door and ran right into my living room, immediately began tearing into my PS4. I was half caveman about it, I say half because before I left for the midnight PS4 launch I made space for my PS4 and got the HDMI and Ethernet cables plugged in and sitting where the PS4 was to be plugged into, but there was nothing pretty about the unboxing. So I got my PS4 all plugged in, booted it up, signed into PSN and started downloading the system 1.50 update. Well the download was going at about 90K/s when it should have been going about 40 times that speed with my internet connection. I had some time to kill, and I knew with the millions of people downloading the 1.50 update it was only going to go slower as it hit midnight in different time zones, so I sat down at my computer to do some reading about the PS4 and Vita TV and that is when the nightmare began.
‘Vita TV is region locked.’ ‘You can’t use your US/EU accounts on the Vita TV.’ ‘Vita TV does not work with any of my games.’ ‘If you are importing a Vita TV cancel your order before it is too late.’ Sony fired a shotgun at my awesome new Vita TV and the aftermath was news was splattered all over my computer screen. I thought to myself that these were rumors. These people are doing something wrong, and there has to be a trick to link my Vita TV to my us account, but on the off chance they were right, and Sony had regressed 10 years are were region locking their systems again, I went ahead and created myself a JP PSN account. I then went to bed having my PS4 still downloading a system update and a new JP PSN account.
When I woke up the next day, I booted up my PS4, logged into PSN and linked my US account to it as my primary account. Then I grabbed my Vita and registered it with PS4 link and was off. I was controlling my PS4 with my Vita. Words cannot express how awesome that was. With my Vita, I went into the PSN store on the PS4 to download Resogun and Contrast, the two free PSN+ games, I was walking outside and all around my house testing the Vita’s PS4 Link, and again it was amazing. I played some games on remote play for a little bit, then it was down to business. I had to test this region locking nonsense, and since my Vita TV was en route to my house, the only way to do it was with my PS4. The reports I had read about the Vita TV said you couldn’t even log into it with a US account, so I figured the same must be true with the PS4. I created a new account on my PS4 linked it with my newly created JP PSN credentials. No problems. I was signed into my JP account on my PS4. Then I went to the PSN store and I got the error, ‘This service is not available in your country/region.’ Bingo! I had solved the mystery (or so I had thought) of US accounts not working on the Vita TV. It wasn’t a matter of not being able to sign into the Vita TV with your US account, it was a matter of no US servers for a Vita TV store were up since the device had only been released in Japan. After all, the PS4 was months away from being released in Japan, but the JP account I had made worked, it just didn’t give me PSN store access. Obviously the people reporting the Vita TV being region locked were doing something wrong, because why would Sony region lock the Vita TV and not the PS4? I also logged into my Vita using my JP account to try remote play, and again there was no problems there either. I thought to myself Sony wouldn’t screw it’s most loyal fans who import devices, the servers just aren’t up and running, and I believed this from my PS4 test. Below is what you see when trying to access the PSN store from a JP account on a PS4.
After a great weekend of playing my PS4, and it was now Monday and FedEx was knocking at my door, Vita TV in hand. I ran directly into my bedroom and hooked it up. I had also made a memory card filled with some of my PS1, and PSP games I had bought from the US PSN store, along with Netflix and a few other apps thinking I’d be able to like it to my US account, just not have store access. I just knew I could get my US account working, and I couldn’t wait to play my PS4 in my bedroom using PS4 Link, along with watching Netflix on my Vita TV, because my bedroom TV, being an older plasma screen isn’t a smart TV so no internet or apps. I booted up my Vita TV into recovery mode and proceeded to update it to firmware 3.00. Just to be on the safe side, I updated via USB and downloaded the update from Sony’s US servers. I wanted my new Vita TV to be linked to my US account, even if it meant no PSN store. Besides, I could download any new stuff to my Vita and swap out memory cards as a work around. The update was applied and system restarted to the Welcome Menu. I selected English as my language, a good sign, changed the time zone and date and time and got to the PSN screen. Typed in my email and password and was greeted with the lovely ‘Service not available in your country/region’ screen that would soon become the bane of my Sony experience. I figured, no problem, it is probably trying to access the PSN store or something like that, because it was the same error I was getting on my PS4 with my JP account. So I skipped the step and that’s when things went from bad to worse.
“Where the F*&K is PS4 link?” I literally yelled out loud when I got to the home screen. Maybe I have to be signed into PSN for it to pop up, I thought. So I went to system settings and tried signing into PSN fom there. ‘Service is not available in your country/region.’ WHAT THE ****?! I can’t even link my PSN account to my Vita TV? I can link my JP account to my PS4, what the f*&k is going on here? The thoughts were racing through my mind at a the speed of light. How and why is the Vita TV region locked and why isn’t the same true for the PS4? I was far beyond pissed. I honestly believe steam was shooting out of my ears like an angry Loony Tunes character. The Vita wasn’t region locked, the PSP wasn’t region locked, the PS4 isn’t region locked, and the PS3 wasn’t region locked. Why would Sony do this? And where the **** is PS4 link?
Then I started trying some Vita games. Out of my collection of around 30 Vita carts, exactly 2 worked. Persona 4 Golden, and Dragon’s Crown. I understood why some games didn’t work, they relied heavily on the touch screen controls, or camera. Then I remembered that around the time of the Vita TV announcement Sony stated the Vita TV would have DualShock 4 support. Bam. Instant touch screen. Touch the Dual Shock 4’s touch pad for simulating the front screen, press down on the touch pad to simulate the rear touch pad. The DualShock 4 has the gyroscopes and accelerometers the Vita does, and it can simulate the front and rear touch screens, the only thing (in theory) the Vita TV can’t do that the Vita can do is use a camera. So I grabbed my DualShock 4 and plugged it into the Vita TV’s USB port, pressed the PS button and nothing. The Vita TV shipped with firmware 2.60, and I figured Sony must have added DualShock 4 support in 3.00, because it added PS4 link in 3.00, but again I was wrong. No PS4 link for the Vita TV and no DualShock 4 support either. It just didn’t make sense. These were advertised features! I later came to find out that the Vita and the Vita TV use the EXACT same firmware. Sony had intentionally left PS4 link out of the Vita TV, and had not given us DualShock 4 support.
Now we have a system with so much potential, that is an utter waste of space. I really think Sony’s new logan of “Greatness Has Arrived” should be changed to “Greatness Has Been Advertised, Region Locked, and Will Be Available In An Upcoming System Update.” The PS4 launches in Japan in 9 days. All those people in Japan who bought their Vita TV’s in hopes of using PS4 link to play their PS4 in a different room haven’t received a firmware update allowing them to do that yet, and they have had their Vita TV’s for 3 months! And let’s not forget about the folks in Singapore who got their PS4’s in December of last year, and their Vita TV’s last month on January 16th! They have gone a month without their Vita TV’s unable to link to their PS4’s and again PS4 link is ALREADY on the 3.01 Vita TV firmware!
Sony also snuck a little advertisement window into the Vita TV called “topics.” You cannot close this window and it is there every time you switch between windows. Almost like a forced commercial when changing games, but get this, these forced advertisements are ONLY on the Japanese model of the Vita TV. The Singapore model of the Vita TV does not have the “topics” screen, and when you switch to a Singapore account on a Japanese Vita TV, guess what, the “topics” screen is still there, and in Japanese, not in English, Mandarin or Malaysian! That leads me to believe that Sony actually put these forced advertisements into the Japanese Vita TV’s hardware! And my theory before about Sony needing to add servers for the Vita TV went right out the window when I logged in using my Singapore account. Since English is an official language in Singapore, the PSN store is also in English if you select it as your language. Truth be told, the only change made to the Vita store for the Vita TV is a separate list of Vita TV compatible games. No extra servers, no extra PSN support, it is the same Vita store with a new list of Vita games that can be played on the Vita TV. Below are some pics I took while logged into my Singapore account. Notice the “topics” screen still in Japanese.
The final straw with my Vita TV happened yesterday when I picked up a copy of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, a game I knew that was compatible with the Vita TV. I was excited to say the least, because the Singapore and Japan PlayStation sites list the game as being compatible and I figured much like the US versions of Persona 4 Golden and Dragon’s Crown work, Trigger Happy Havoc should work as well. This is the screen I was greeted to after plugging in the cart into My Vita TV.
Now, not only has Sony region locked the Vita TV, they are locking out US games that are compatible with the it. They are screwing over their most loyal hardcore fans. As I said in a recent tweet, Sony is starting to become that exgirlfriend that ripped out your heart threw it to the floor, stomped it into mush and spit on it, but you keep answering her booty calls, knowing full well the pain she will cause, because she just so damn hot and gets you off exactly how you want it. But in the end, you are still screwed over, and left with a bitter taste in your mouth.
To sum up this rant, the Vita TV could be the biggest and baddest thing on the market right now for many reasons. Non gamers would have a hard time not buying one, simply because it is priced at the same point as a Roku or similar smart TV box, can do everything they can do but oh so much more. Maybe someone looking at a Roku doesn’t have time to play modern games, but could enjoy a trip down memory lane with a PS1 classic, or kill some time playing one of the newer indie Vita games that are similar to some iOS or Android games. Every single person who owns a PS4 and a second HDTV would want one, they could play their PS4 on a different TV than the TV the PS4 is hooked up to. Imagine playing a PS4 game and the wife/kids/roommate/whatever wants the TV? No problem! Just boot up your Vita TV in another room and keep right on playing using your DualShock 4. Hell, like I said in the beginning I’d buy 2 more if released in the US just to make all my TV’s smart. And with Sony’s new streaming service PlayStation Now, gamers on a budget would buy a $99 Vita TV in a heartbeat over any of the new Android biased micro consoles. If I were a gambling man, I’d bet on the fact that Sony actually WANTS this device to fail. With all it’s potential, it’s currently a complete f*&king mess! And it is Sony’s most loyal fans who got screwed. Those of us who run out and buy every new PlayStation product the day it is released.
And they wonder why their consoles get hacked. Well Sony, to you I say, “if greatness actually had arrived, and wasn’t just advertised, region locked and available in an upcoming system update, and you lived up to your promises and didn’t take things like OtherOS away and continually lie to your customers, maybe hackers would leave your consoles alone. They would have no reason to even hack them in the first place if you just gave us, or in the Vita TV’s case enabled, what was advertised and promised.” And like that exgirlfriend I’m still hopeful will call, I’ll also still be looking forward to a Vita TV release in the US that may never happen.
As usual, hit me up on twitter with any questions/comments @heleius