SOS - Save Our Saves!
Those happy little bouncing Vita icons hold a deep, dark secret.
The PlayStation Vita is a fine gaming machine – one that I have enjoyed playing for the past couple of weeks since its release. It's sturdily constructed, has a beautiful OLED display, some great launch games, and a very nifty user interface that's both attractive and easy to use. Despite all it has going for it, it houses one of the worst design decisions I've ever encountered in a gaming console.
We all know of the Vita's absolutely terrible custom memory solution. Rather than using a standard memory card system, like micro-SD, they've created their own proprietary format, which carries some very hefty price tags. Chances are you won't be springing for one of the larger memory cards, but rather the more affordable 4GB or 8GB cards. With many downloadable Vita games pushing 1GB, you'll unquestionably burn through this space before the end of the year. Thanks to the wonders of running a game website, I've found myself in a position where I have lots of digital games, thus creating a very immediate space issue.
Last night, I was forced to start moving content off of my 8GB memory card to make way for a couple new games. BlazBlue was my first choice – not because it was a bad game – but rather because it was occupying half of my memory card. Upon holding its icon to delete the game, I was prompted with a message that informed me that by deleting the icon, I'd be deleting the game and all of its associated content – including save data. Wait, what?
I couldn't believe what I was seeing – why would deleting the game content also delete all of the stuff tied to it? I just wanted to get rid of the game itself to make room for other stuff, I'd much prefer to keep the save file on the memory card so I could merely download the game again in the future and start right up with it.
Still in disbelief, I made my way to Google to see if anyone else was encountering this issue. Sure enough, I wasn't the only one, many others were already questioning if this could be the truth. Sadly, it was, as confirmed by countless replies. The only known workaround – connect your Vita to your PC and back up the game and all of its content wholesale. Hope you've got some space to spare on your hard drive – or more importantly – a personal computer that's capable of interfacing with the Vita.
I still can't for the life of me understand why these two items are inextricably connected. Both the PSP and PlayStation 3 managed the two separate and apart from one another, which makes total sense. Now, my once portable platform that should thrive on its digital content is tethered to the PC if you'd like to retain save data, which I'm sure most gamers would prefer.
Whether it's an oversight or a design decision, this absolutely must be fixed. I should not have to worry about managing my save data on one of my other devices that can be susceptible to its whole own host of issues. What if my PC's hard drive dies (which is incredibly common)? What if the files are corrupted on my hard drive? What if I misplace them in the file tree? These are just a few "what if" situations, I'm sure there are plenty others if you think hard enough about it.
Despite understanding how it works at this point, I still find the whole thing inconceivable. This is a system with a huge focus on digital content, thus making data management an integral part of the experience. To fail so blatantly is beyond inconceivable, it's unacceptable.