Sony: 3G PS Vita is an experiment
Sony's Shuhei Yoshida has revealed that the inclusion of 3G features in the PS Vita is very much an experiment.
While they are doing all they can to encourage gamers to choose the 3G version over the basic Wi-Fi model with offers through their wireless partners such as AT&T in the US and Vodafone in the UK, Yoshida explained that the 3G functionality is there so that they can learn what they can do with it and what consumers might come to want from it.
At this year's DICE Summit in Las Vegas the Sony Worldwide Studios boss said, "I totally agree with where you're coming from. It's a new thing to have 3G capability in a portable gaming system, and when we were working on the design of the hardware, it's true that we believed in what we could do with 3G, but unless we have the system in the market and developers can try things and get feedback from consumers...it takes years to experiment and find a new way to use it, but unless we start somewhere we cannot even experiment."
"So 3G is our investment in the future," continued Yoshida-san. "I hope some consumers will believe in that investment of their money for the future. These systems last many years, and we will upgrade firmware, add new features, but it's not easy to update hardware. But the main purpose we believe in for having 3G in PS Vita is the social connectivity features that we have put at the center of PS Vita. When you open a game, you don't automatically start a game, but you're taken to one page which is constantly updated from publishers as well as your friends doing activities or giving you in-game items. So all that social connectivity is enabled by the 3G."
As an example of the kind of features that 3G brings to the Vita Yoshida explained using social gaming on Facebook and the Autolog-like features of MotorStorm RC. "So if you want to send your friend something or check to see if your score is being beaten, it's immediate, and beyond the social connectivity there's also asynchronous gameplay that lots of social games on Facebook do so well. We're integrating in-game many of these features. For example, MotorStorm is being released at launch in the U.S. and Europe, and when you complete each event in the game, you can send your challenge to your friend. When you receive your challenge through 3G, you can immediately play with just one press of a button, to get started and play the same event [as your friend]. And yes, this is doable over Wi-Fi if you're connected, but Wi-Fi isn't available everywhere. 3G is not good for real-time, heavy online play, but for these social and asynchronous features, it's quite capable," he added.
There is a slight catch with this approach though as Yoshida pointed out saying, "you have to experience it before you might decide you want to get 3G."
The PS Vita will be released in the Europe and North America tomorrow with MotorStorm RC available as one of the first round of Vita PSN titles alongside Super Stardust, Escape Plan and Hustle Kings.