PlayStation Vita has yet to launch, but it's got one major advantage over Nintendo's 3DS: a second analog stick. According to EA labels head Frank Gibeau, Sony's portable could have a "better chance" in the market, but rumors are pointing towards Nintendo taking action to de-emphasize 3D and add another analog. If this happens, be prepared for a flood of Vita ports on 3DS, says one analyst.
"The days of publishers developing a single game for multiple technologically differentiating platforms are over," observed EEDAR's Jesse Divnich to IndustryGamers. "Madden NFL 09 for example was developed for the PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox, Wii, Nintendo DS and PSP, all of which required at least 4 different internal teams. If the 3DS rumors are true and Nintendo plans to add a second analog stick, it would at least group the Vita and 3DS into the same category. While the technological differences would require additional development resources, more so than when an Xbox 360 title is ported to the PS3 (or vice versa), adding a second analog stick to the 3DS at least make game porting between itself and the Vita possible."
Wouldn't it be great to play dual analog games like Call of Duty on either portable?
Divnich also noted that this is likely the beginning of a trend. While the Wii was hugely successful because it was so differentiated from the competition, it also meant publishers (mostly) struggled on the platform.
"I believe that hardware platforms that attempt to substantially differentiate themselves from their competitors will no longer occur either (e.g. the Wii vs. PS3)," continued Divnich. "There is certainly a shared benefit that both Microsoft and Sony receive from their home platforms having similar technological capabilities. I believe the same shared benefit can be realized by Sony and Nintendo if their portable platforms were more closely aligned."
"How Nintendo would roll this out, or whether these rumors are even true, is yet to be known. But if the rumors are true, I don’t foresee Nintendo having much difficulty getting consumer adoption of a new component. As we've seen with the Wii, Nintendo was able to integrate the Wii MotionPlus rather smoothly by including it into the Wii Sports Resort game package and this was achieved even though the Nintendo Wii had a rather large installed base at the time. The 3DS is still in its infancy and has a much smaller installed base. It certainly can be done."
Frankly, if Nintendo can successfully market and sell an add-on that makes 3DS work effectively with a second analog, we'd be all for it. In fact, it might even help publishers and both dedicated portables in the long run as they face continued pressure from smartphones.