The PlayStation Vita is officially dying and it’s absolutely Sony’s fault that it is happening. There was a rather large market, but unfortunately, there are not enough steps being taken to save it.
The PlayStation Vita was to be a contender in the hand-held market. A market that Nintendo single-handedly has dominated for years since the Sega GameGear vanished back in the ’90s. They continued to do so even against mobile versions of the Neo-Geo, Sony’s PlayStation Portable, and its other variants. Now? They’ve done the same against Sony’s once ambitious PlayStation Vita – a handheld I’m an avid fan of. But it’s not their fault or Mobile Gaming on tablets or phones that killed it. Sony did.
When you look at anything that Sony has done wrong for either the PlayStation Portable or PlayStation Vita, there should be a list of things that pop up in your head, and each of them? You’re probably right about that. While the Vita still remains favored by many of its owners, you’d be justified saying that it’s no longer their go-to hand-held. With a lack of games emerging on it in a deadly manner with each year, 2016 could prove to be the year that Andrew House, Shuhei Yoshida, and the rest of the Sony team have officially failed their once ambitious hand-held platform.
Remember that Shuhei Yoshida Q&A about the Vita on Eurogamer? He was asked if they would ever develop a hand-held to succeed the PlayStation Vita and his response is not what you’d want.
“That’s a tough question. People have mobile phones and it’s so easy to play games on smartphones. And many games on smartphones are free, or free to start. I myself am a huge fan of PlayStation Vita and we worked really hard on designing every aspect. Touch-based games are fun – there are many games with really good design. But having sticks and buttons makes things totally different. So I hope, like many of you, that this culture of playing portable games continues but the climate is not healthy for now because of the huge dominance of mobile gaming.”
It’s easy to blame things as simple as the growing market in Smart Phones and mobile devices such as iPads as well as Android. I’ll admit, I’m guilty of playing them, I put about 60 hours a week into Vainglory when I’m not writing or reviewing. It’s a guilty habit, one that to some is bad, but one I enjoy. While it could be easy to blame a “huge dominance of mobile gaming” the PlayStation Vita had its chance – Sony failed it with sub-optimal marketing and poor business decisions. Want a list of how? Let’s do just that.
- Remember those first party member cards you could only by at 4GB ($20), 8GB ($30), 16GB($80) and 32GB ($100)? Not allowing the use of Micro-SD cards was the real kicker and something that has helped the 3DS succeed in this market. 64GB’s? I’ll spend 32 dollars on that while a 64GB PS Vita card cost me almost $150 USD to ship from Japan. Sony shot themselves, rather their Vita, in the foot.
- Marketing it as a “Console-Quality Experience” was probably not the smartest idea since its graphics were PS2-Early PS3 quality. Also, those atrocious spin-offs to Uncharted, Call of Duty, and Resistance wasn’t the best idea. Gravity Rush to this date is probably STILL the best first-party title next to the in-house and third-party co-developed title Soul Sacrifice. Ragnarok Odyssey ACE is still the closest-looking game to console-quality it has to date.
- Want a Vita? Sony’s Andrew House decided to state that the PlayStation Vita is now a “legacy” device and would be used as a secondary accessory to the PlayStation 4. Gotta hit the toilet? Well, you can play Destiny while doing so. Not that I or anyone would suggest it. It’s actually a great remote-playing device. I do it all the time when hanging at my pal Damien’s. Nothing like playing a game of Warframe at 2 AM while everyone’s asleep.
- Remember how the PSP could play PlayStation 1 games and its own? Sony decided to try and bank on that with the PlayStation Vita fans. They decided to flood it with some of the classics. Well not all of them, they ignored that quickly too, and have left fans of Metal Gear Solid in the dark while ensuring that titles like Final Fantasy VII and Chrono Cross could play on it. Haha, jokes on us, you won Sony. No seriously, you won.
- If you were wondering if the PlayStation Vita has even been present at E3 in the past couple of years – it wasn’t. Sony has been making sure since 2014 to pretend it doesn’t exist and they didn’t even make it. So much for publicity and marketing on an amazing hand-held that could still beat the 3DS if some effort was put into it.
- Also, where’s my Sky Blue Vita? Excuse me while I find an airbrush.
Remember when Andrew House called the Vita a “Legacy” console? He wasn’t kidding, they aren’t supporting it – quite literally – they’re done. The proof is in the remakes of Gravity Rush and Tearaway.
If you remember back in 2011 with the Nintendo 3DS launch, it was a flop. There weren’t really doing much in the means of sales, but there were a few hardcore fans – like myself – that showed up to purchase a turquoise blue one and even a copy of Street Fighter IV 3D. While it was down, Nintendo didn’t back away from it and brush the dirt under the rug. Instead, Nintendo sat back, doubled down, and decided to release new models only to fill them with some of the best games to date. Remember those remakes of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda games? That helped a lot, but they didn’t spend that time like Sony did playing “who-to-blame”. Instead, they fixed the problem and have since sold more than 56.7 million units in 3 years. Pretty impressive if you ask me.
So what can Sony do to fix the PlayStation Vita instead of leaving their hand-held dead in the water? Let’s take a look.
- While memory cards are nice to have, Sony’s vision of self-developed memory cards needs to change. By chance, they need to lower the price and introduce the world to the 64GB memory card at an affordable price or just make a PlayStation Vita that supports Micro-SD so that we can do as we please with it. Not like we’re going to mod our consoles or anything. We just want more memory access.
- Quit acting like it doesn’t exist. Sure, mobile games are a huge deal right now, but guess what? The Nintendo 3DS is doing quite well thanks to third and first-party support. Something the PlayStation Vita had a lot of until Sony turned their back on it. Remember those great titles like Killzone: Mercenary, Soul Sacrifice Delta, Hyperdimension Neptunia, and even Gravity Rush? Those deserve a second chance on the Vita with new installments. Well, we know Hyperdimension Neptunia is getting them anyways.
- Stop putting niche indie games on there. We do enjoy them, but some fresh big titles would be nice. So would the idea of more backward compatible games and even PlayStation 2 collections on there. We already saw Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter, and even God of War. They all did great! I still play them. So do others.
- Improve the bandwidth capabilities of the PlayStation Vita. Once upon a time? It had great internet speeds and streaming capabilities. Now? Not-so-much. Even on a 1GBPS internet? It struggles. I wish I could say it was my network, but it’s not, it’s truly not Sony.
- Give us a deluge of new games so that we just might be interested once again. I still play mine – daily. Right now? Bandai Namco won me over with God Eater Resurrection even though I have it on PlayStation Vita.
- Find your target audience and market for them. Present your games at tradeshows such as E3, GamesCom, and even Tokyo Game Show. Trust us, we want more – we always want more. I certainly have grown tired of my Nintendo 3DS and would love a reason to keep picking up my Vita. New games for old titles? That’d definitely be a reason to go at it again.
While it would seem the PlayStation Vita could have a chance, Sony has decided to focus solely on their PlayStation 4, which they announced at E3 2016 that it has now sold more than 48 million units worldwide. With upcoming titles like No Man’s Sky, Days Gone, God of War (reboot?), The Last Guardian, Gravity Rush 2, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Hideo Kojima’s new mysterious title Death Stranding, we know Sony is going to bank in on those. Hell, they’re going to focus on those. Why wouldn’t you? It’s where the money is since you left the hand-held gamers sinking in quicksand grasping for anything they can hold onto. If you were one to wonder? This is a topic people like myself have grown “salty” over and will continue to do so for years to come.
Please note that any views in this article are not that of Blast Away the Game Review’s, but, is that of the writers and do not reflect upon the site or the team as a whole.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook today.