PS Vita 3G 20MB download cap confirmed

GDC Online 2011: Sony rep confirms carrier-imposed limit on downloadable game size, reality check on device being as powerful as PS3, potential for freemium model.

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As the PlayStation Vita approaches its December debut in Japan, specific details are starting to take shape about what the hardware can--and can't--do. In a 2011 Game Developers Conference Online sponsored session today, Sony Computer Entertainment America senior staff developer support engineer Chris Norden clarified a few of the machine's limitations.

As it would turn out, the PS Vita will not be as powerful as the PS3. Shocking.

The first such limitation is not actually being imposed by Sony. Norden confirmed that the 3G version of the PS Vita will only be able to download games up to 20MB in size as a result of the same 3G mobile carrier restrictions that prevent users from downloading large games or movies to their cell phones. Of course, Vita owners will still be able to download games larger than 4GB using the system's Wi-Fi functionality. For reference, Norden said that retail PS Vita games will come on 2GB and 4GB game cards.

Norden also addressed notions that the Vita would be as powerful as the PlayStation 3, saying such a portable machine just wouldn't be feasible right now.

"That's not true. That couldn't be true. The things would burst on fire in your hands or something," Norden said. He specifically cited the impact on battery life and heat output as reasons the PS Vita won't be matching its console counterpart's horsepower.

Finally, Norden answered a handful of questions from the audience, including one about whether or not the system was set up to allow for developers to make microtransaction-driven free-to-play games. Norden said developers are "free to explore whatever business model they want," and that the system is capable of supporting that.

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