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Opinion – Tapping Into Potential

by Matthew Kato on Dec 29, 2013 at 08:00 AM

I'm usually pretty careful of looking before I leap and gettin a new system. Problem is, I feel like more and more like I am not able to make the purchase I really want as we move into the future.

I was recently thinking about getting a Vita. Oddly enough, this thought was mainly manufactured because of the handheld's capabilities when combined with the PlayStation 4 – remote play and as a second screen. Sadly, defining my desire for a Vita predominately for its secondary function as a sidekick for the PS4 is not only sad for the Vita itself, but also not so flattering for the PS4. The fact that an exciting feature for the PS4 requires the purchasing of a totally separate handheld reduces the stature of the home console a little. I guess the same could be said if Microsoft ever sold the Xbox One without the Kinect packed in (which you could argue you're paying $100 for), given how the peripheral is integrated into the menu system.

Pulling back and simplifying things to an arguably absurd degree for a moment, you could question what you're really getting with the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 without such paid extras and accessories like an online connection, a tablet/Vita/smartphone, cable/satellite TV, Kinect, or PlayStation Camera. Remote play, the Xbox One Guide, Kinect menu voice control, snapping apps, Gaikai downloads, etc. would go away and reduce the systems' capabilities.

I've also considered the upcoming Steam Machines and how it may simplify my gaming and offer new experiences. The problem is, for me, the usefulness of the machines' switchable parts and keeping the unit up to date (and therefore able to play the latest games) brings me into territory I don't want to enter: dealing with upgrading parts, drivers, and operating systems. Hopefully Valve delivers a smoother PC experience without any major driver and OS issues.

In both of these examples, it's as if choosing and buying the platform is just the beginning of the journey towards making it what you want. These days we certainly expect our gaming systems to evolve and get better thanks to updates, but getting them to do what they are supposed to do out of the box seems like it's demanding more and more from my pocketbook.

The situation I'm left with is that I'm not fully satisfied with any of the platform choices I'm faced with. The possibilities are tantalizing, but what does it take to realize them?