As many of you already know, Sony has given prospective PS Vita owners a chance to check out their goods well in advance of their official U.S. launch in select cities across the U.S. Yesterday, my friend and I were able to attend firsthand one of the Vita Hill Social Clubs in Chicago. When I arrived, I noticed it was a large commercial space in a dense retail area of Chicago (Bucktown) that resembled a modern loft living space, with various couches and loungers to relax and get your game on.
Upon entering, we were met by an enthusiastic PS Vita rep who welcomed us in and asked us to sign in. I was able to register quickly, by entering some basic information such as name and email, and I was given a few ticket stubs with codes which I had to then enter into the system as a raffle. Once you entered your code you were immediately informed whether or not you had won something. One of my stubs had in fact won and thus I was given a key to unlock a tiny lockbox nearby and receive my gift. It was a PS Vita mug warmer! They took a picture of me holding it up and after shoving it into my pocket and wondering if it would be a decent substitute for a handkerchief once my allergies kick up this springtime we were led to the main gaming area, a set of black leather couches and tables set up to test out the PS Vita. Oh and also I forgot to mention they had a variety of free drinks on hand (even coconut water!) although of the non-alcoholic variety, and snack bars. Hit the jump for more details.
As we were seated, the Sony rep set up our gaming rig (by tying the PS Vita’s to the base of the rig so that they wouldn’t be stolen, dang!) and explained to us some of the basic controls of the device as well as which games were available, some only in demo mode but still playable. The demo titles available for play were Uncharted, LittleBig Planet, Little Deviants, WipEout 2048, ModNation Racers: Road Trip, Reality Fighter, and Hot Shots Golf. In order to switch games we simply had to inform the Sony rep and they would come and set it up for us. We arrived around 7 pm (they close at 8:30 pm) and seemed to be the only ones around other than one other gamer in the back who was playing some sort of 3d shooter. There were about 4 Sony reps just lounging around but they left us to the games and seemed to be hanging out yet ready to assist us in any way, which led to a comfortable laid back atmosphere. After playing a few titles each, we thanked them and were on our way.
All in all it was a top notch event that’s a must see if you’re on the fence about purchasing the PS Vita come launch. Being able to actually test out the PS Vita in a comfortable space and feel the slim form factor in your hands along with viewing the eye popping Super AMOLED plus screen was something that should be done in a relaxed no pressure environment instead of a congested Best Buy with a line of kids anxiously staring you down come launch time. The Sony reps were all friendly, knowledgeable and eager to help in any way. I definitely got the impression that they wouldn’t have minded how long I stuck around to test out the Vita, and that wasn’t simply because we were the only ones there.
Sony’s unveiling of Ps Vita social clubs in select cities across the U.S. is hopefully a strong indication of their intentions to support the PS Vita going forward to ensure its widespread success. When has Sony ever gone out of their way to offer an interactive and free retail experience geared to generate interest amongst the gaming community for a hardware pre launch? Efforts such as this should be applauded, and gaming enthusiasts should definitely take advantage of this event leading up to the nationwide launch which is less than 2 weeks away! Although the environment didn’t quite resemble a social club for that particular night for us, I could see how there could be a more festive environment if we had a arrived a at busier time. Perhaps it will be more social tonight as a real life playboy playmate is scheduled to attend… maybe we picked the wrong night to get our game on.
Hours of operation are
- Mon – Thurs: 12pm – 7:30pm
- Fri: 1pm – 9pm
- Sat 12pm – 10pm
- Sun 12pm – 6pm