PlayStation Vita is a bit of an enigma, a portable console which has sold badly but is still loved by many. Everyone who owns Sony’s portable system seems to adore it, yet for a number of reasons it failed to hit the heights of its older sibling, the PlayStation Portable, which itself went on to sell an incredible 80 million units.
So what went wrong? Many people would likely point the finger at Sony for abandoning the system when it needed the hardware giant the most, but what you have to remember is that Sony did at least try. First party games came and went, titles such as Uncharted, Resistance, Unit 13, Everybody’s Golf and more came from Sony’s studios and although some of these felt lacklustre at times, perhaps, if anything, it was the lack of a killer IP from third party studios which hurt Vita most.
How many systems have we seen die a death due to lack of third party support? Nintendo often suffers due to a lack of third party belief, with the Wii U hurting more than most. While we did get a pretty terrible Call of Duty game for PS Vita, as well as a watered down version of FIFA, the system didn’t get the support it needed to succeed, with the likes of Grand Theft Auto and other notable franchises posted missing. Could this lack of support have killed the system? It was certainly one reason it didn’t hit the heights Sony would have wanted.
Of course, the PS Vita’s failure is not just due to a lack of quality, as a lot of mistakes were made from the off. The choice of requiring expensive proprietary memory cards was a bad mistake and probably dented the console’s reputation before it began. The hardware was already expensive, so this certainly didn’t do it any favours. Then there was the confusion of releasing both a Wi-Fi and a 3G version of the handheld, a mistake which was rectified with the beautifully redesigned current version. It didn’t help Sony released the Vita at a time when even the popular 3DS was suffering due to the rise of mobile gaming. Perhaps Sony didn’t anticipate the need for Vita to be more competitive with mobile devices, maybe by offering cheaper throwaway games or a way to use you Vita in place of your mobile phone.
It’s a shame really because the PS Vita is a wonderful handheld. It’s solidly designed, with fantastic graphics and a half decent battery life too. Then there’s remote play, which is one of the greatest features of all, a feature which has, if anything, been underplayed by Sony. Also, who doesn’t love the indie darlings which have made the console home, made even better by initiatives such as cross-buy, cross-save and cross-play, which allow great value for money across the entire PlayStation ecosystem and the chance to expand your library at a fraction of the cost.
There are a lot of things to love about the PS Vita, but having sold around 10 million units in its life to date, it seems inevitable that the handheld is the end of the road for gaming on the go from Sony. Only if Nintendo’s Switch is a runaway success will there be a glimmer of hope of Sony one day returning to portable gaming, but for now at least, continue to cherish the Vita, because if you do own one, then you know how special it truly is.