The successor to the Playstation Portable is almost upon us, but we’ve had scant few details regarding just what exaclty this handheld device is actually capable of, besides a few screenshots of its visual and graphical depth. Now, we have some information regarding its online capabilities at least.
The online modes announced for the Vita so far are Near, Activity, Live-Area and Party.
Sony Europe manager of R&D, Phil Rogers, described Near as â€œa location-based gifting systemâ€. â€œWhat Near does is it allows users to discover each other, leave gifts for each other and essentially find out more about games. You can see where people are in relation to your location, their five most recently played games and also gifts that they’ve registered. This is fairly cool because it exposes users to games they might not have heard of and you can see how popular those games are and how people are rating them.â€
Gifts from near will follow users around with them, with gift boxes being available that can contain multiple gifts, so long as the size of the box does not exceed 100KB. Or as Rogers describes it;
Imagine user A visits locations one to ten through that day, and they get home and sync with the server and it uploads to the Near server your ten locations that you’ve been to.User B comes along, does the same thing, but at some point in User B’s day they passed User A’s location five, which means they’re now able to collect gifts that that user’s dropped. That comes into the Near application and then in-game they pick up those gifts.
Gifts can also be specified as to their rarity, and how many times they may be picked up, with people also being able to gift challenges and content from games to other users.
Similar to the setup on Xbox Live, party will be a platform where people can form a group to discuss everything from games to life. "You can chat across games through text and voice," Rogers explains, its "Cross-game voice chat,it’s there and it’s on Vitaâ€.
Players will be able to invite, chat and join games through the function, as well as assemble friend lists that will pertain to certain games or genres only.
LiveArea and Activity
Rogers describes these features as where players will essentially begin their day. LiveArea has three additional sub-modes, Index, Live and Game. These features will give players information such as content details, trophies and ratings. A facebook style comment page will also be available that will allow people to comment on on the gameplay of their friends and associates.
"The system automatically puts a few activities in there," Rogers added, such as Trophies and ratings. "That encourages people to then comment similar to Facebook style."
LiveArea/ Activity will also allow developers to send users new information, such as screenshots and videos of games, while keeping them up to date and interacting with community, in order to create a better gaming social network.
So far, it seems that the Vita is shaping up to be the king of social networking when it comes to handheld entertainment. The games so far will appeal to the core crowd of gamers, while the networking side will no doubt attract more casual gamers.
Last Updated: July 26, 2011