PlayStation 101: Everything You Need to Know About 3G on PS Vita

With this post we’re kicking off what we hope will be a recurring feature: PlayStation 101. Here we’ll clarify any confusing issues or myths surrounding the PlayStation brand and give you all of the information that you seek in one place.

The PlayStation Vita has been available in Japan for over a month now, and we’re just a few weeks away from its worldwide release. Still, there seems to be some confusion regarding the two available models. That’s what happens when Sony divides its audience with weird choices, but that’s another post altogether.

What can you do with 3G that you otherwise couldn’t? What can’t you do? Ultimately, which PS Vita is right for you? Read on.

What does it cost?

The hardware is simple: You can buy a 3G+Wi-Fi model for $299 in the US, £279 in the UK, and €299 throughout Europe. Australia and New Zealand once again get the shaft, unfortunately, and can buy one at $418 and $550, respectively.

As for data, AT&T will be the exclusive 3G carrier for PS Vita in the United States. $14.99 a month will get you 250MB of wireless data, and $24.99 a month will get you 2GB $30 will get you 3 GB. There are no contracts, so you’ll be able to buy data month-to-month as you see fit.

Everywhere else, Vodafone is the “preferred” 3G provider for the Vita. Prices aren’t set in stone, but if AT&T’s prices are anything to go by then you can expect the same data options that are available for 3G tablet users. In the UK, that means £7.50 a month for 500 MB, or £15 a month for 2 GB from Vodafone.

Where can I use 3G?

Much like a cell phone or iPad, you’ll be able to take your Vita just about anywhere on the planet and be connected via 3G. However, roaming data rates can get very expensive very quickly, so exercise caution and only use it when necessary when traveling.

Can I just wait until I reach my destination and buy data there?

You would hope so, but that’s not necessarily the case. In the US, the Vita has been designed to work with AT&T, and AT&T only. If it’s even possible to buy data abroad, you’d presumably have to find another provider that runs a GSM network. Conversely, an imported 3G Vita wouldn’t work with AT&T’s network here in the US.

What kind of multiplayer options does 3G present?

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to play standard multiplayer games over a 3G network. It’s a bit disappointing, but with how easy it is to disrupt a 3G connection, it’s probably for the best. After all, no one wants a deathmatch or close race to disconnect because someone drove through a tunnel.

Instead, 3G Vita players will become acquainted with asynchronous multiplayer. That is, games that don’t require two players to be active at the same time. One prime example is Zipper Interactive’s upcoming Unit 13. The shooter will update leaderboards in real-time, telling you that a friend has beaten your score as soon as it happens.

While you won’t be able to play Call of Duty from your car against your buddy playing at home, turn-based gameplay is still an option. Apple’s rival iOS platform is loaded with games that excel at this type of multiplayer, such as Words with Friends or the recently released Hero Academy.

Will I be able to download games and apps via 3G?

Well, that depends. Currently, AT&T limits downloads to 20 MB via 3G devices, and the Vita won’t be any different — you’ll have to find a wi-fi connection to download anything bigger. You might be able to download smaller PSP Minis or apps from the PlayStation Store, but you can forget about downloading full-fledged games such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss.

What’s this I hear about GPS functionality?

3G connectivity means that certain games and apps will be able to track your location. The built-in social app Near will make use of the functionality to help you track nearby Vita users to see what games they’ve been playing, and maybe even join in on their fun. Presumably, you’ll also be able to attach your location to a number of different social apps, such as LiveTweet and the inevitable Facebook app.

As for games, we’re unaware of specific uses by any launch titles. Of course, that will probably change sooner rather than later as developers implement clever uses for GPS in their games.

Will I be able to stream Netflix via 3G?

Sony recently announced the service coming to Vita, but they didn’t say whether or not it would work on 3G. With a meager 20MB download limit and file sizes going well into the hundreds, though, I don’t see it being very practical outside of a wi-fi connection.

What other uses are there for 3G outside of games?

There’s the Near app, which I described above, and Twitter will have a presence on the Vita through the LiveTweet app. Combined with the ability to take in-game screenshots, you’ll be able to tweet your escapades in real time.

Music Unlimited will also be available for music streaming on day one. Other apps in development include Flickr for photo sharing, Foursquare for location check-ins, and Skype for making voice calls.

If you have any other questions or nuggets of information that weren’t posted in here, feel free to post them in the comments and I’ll add them in later.

Readers Comments (9)

  1. Absolute arse. First they announce AT&T as the provider, then crappy plans and then announce you can’t use it for multiplayer or even DLC! Why would I pay extra just for Near and Twitter plus some leaderboard BS that can update once I get home to use my wifi? Sony really dropped the ball on this one.

  2. ive heard that here in Slovenia were gona have T2 for vita 3g, ive got no problem with that,
    so i wana know more about this ATnT provider, are they realy that badd of a service in the states, or why is eweryone so pissed about it?

    • Their the worst they charge high prices and give you nothing. They only very popular because they had the iPhone for 3 years exclusively in the US before other carriers got it.

  3. Seems to be incorrect on a few points. You can import a Hong Kong model and use it on AT&T or T-Mobile in the states since it’s unlocked. The Japanese model is locked to Docomo, and the American model is locked to AT&T. Based on that, the only model that you could travel abroad with is the Hong Kong Vita unless they unlock the other regions’ units.

    • Hm, interesting. I looked into it and it seems that you’re right. I guess that means that the Hong Kong unit would be compatible with any GSM network around the globe?

  4. Will the Skype app be video calling enabled? And can anyone develop an app for vita & put it on PSN if Sony Allows?

    • Nope, they specifically said at CES that they aren’t targeting the App Store or Android Market and are only focusing on the core apps (Skype, Flickr, Netflix, Facebook, etc.).

  5. According to the Vita will support Google Maps.

    What i want to know is if the Vita will save maps to the memory card and you will be able to preload your map/route, so you don’t have to use your 3G data connection downloading maps in real time (and waste valuable MBytes of your data plan every time you use the GPS) but only use the 3G for positioning.

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