Open Forum: Is Sony Abandoning The PlayStation Vita Too Soon?

The (first) party's over, guys.

The PlayStation Vita has had a rough ride these past few weeks. Following Shuhei Yoshida’s comments that “the climate is not healthy” for a successor to Sony’s handheld, it has now been confirmed once more that the company has ceased making first party games for the platform. So, if you were banking on sequels to games like Soul Sacrifice and Killzone Mercenary, then it sounds as though you’re fresh out of luck.

It’s upsetting to hear this directly from Sony but, in truth, we all saw it coming. Attempts to prop up the Vita’s roster of exclusives have grown weaker with each passing year. Although the company has had some major success in courting a stable of smashing indie studios, the lack of big flagship releases has dampened the Vita’s appeal somewhat.

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As Dave points out, Nintendo’s 3DS and the ever-expanding mobile market are mostly to blame. Despite a fairly sluggish launch, the Vita’s dual-screened rival quickly gained traction thanks to the enduring popularity of its cherished mascots. Where Sony made genuine attempts to innovate using the Vita’s superior power and feature set, it could do little to compete with Super Mario, Smash Bros. and Nintendo’s various iconic properties.

Although we’ve witnessed a sharp decline in first party titles, the Vita’s library has continued to diversify in their absence. In particular, Dave notes the recent proliferation of visual novels – a popular genre in Japan that has players reading along with little in the way of actual gameplay. This change in focus has also led to a sustained rise in the number of indie games arriving on the platform, many of which come tagged with cross console compatibility.

That said, Dom reckons it’s far too early for Sony to pull the plug on first party development:

“Plain and simple, a console is sold on its exclusives, and Sony can’t be expecting third-party publishers to be the ones to push their handheld. I would have loved to see another handheld Gran Turismo, or a new Patapon. Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Wipeout 2047 were also both fantastic but we’re never likely to see these games on-the-go again.”

Still, he says, there are a number of good reasons to pick up a Vita. Remote Play has been a huge boon for console with PlayStation Now showing plenty of potential. It’s also hard to ignore the massive library of PSP and original PlayStation classics available to download. From Silent Hill and Crash Bandicoot to Final Fantasy VII and Resident Evil, some of the best games of the last few decades are right there in the palm of your hand.

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Looking further ahead, Stefan has come to accept Sony’s awkward shuffle away from the Vita. With the PlayStation 4 currently dominating the console market and a potential VR revolution looming, it seems as though they have bigger fish to fry. Still, he’s quick to lay the criticism on Sony where due:

“The difficulty for Sony and the PlayStation Vita was the same as for the PSP. The promise of home console level graphics was never quite met, meaning that any game on the system would have to be a distinct and separate entity, rather than a quick port.

But Sony also left the console out to die far too soon after launch. Their top studios were all already gearing up for the PlayStation 4, but as soon as the Vita came out, Sony started shutting down studios that could have continued to focus on the handheld. It killed any real chance of sustained first party support, and without sales and easy ports, third parties outside of Japan were soon to shy away from investing.”

Despite the blunders and missed opportunities, many are quick to stand by the PlayStation Vita. Although deprived of future first party release, it still plays host to some of the best handheld gaming experiences out there. For that reason we’re convinced that a successor isn’t completely off the table just yet. When it might come and what form it could take is anyone’s guess, though.


Now we hand the discussion over to you. Have Sony pulled the plug too early or is there a greater benefit in focusing on PS4 and their VR ambitions? Are gutted that some Vita exclusives won’t be getting timely sequels? Is there still hope for a successor? Let us know in the comments below!

18 Comments

  1. The vita for me died time ago, from when Sony announced they will no longer support it. I know there is a lot of Japanese developer support but I just don’t like their games, they are weird & turn based or full of puzzle.

    The vita is just for remote play now, all Sony need to do for me is allow the dual shock to work on the vita & the vita to work as a second screen & they are onto something greatness

  2. Yes, it’s abandon[ed] it too soon. Loads of people talking about Sony being a business and having to make the right financial choices, about the mobile market not really helping Vita and so on, but none of it really matters.

    Nintendo is a good example. The 3DS has easily stood on its own against the mobile market, there’s no reason that Vita can’t do the same, tapping into the right parts of the market and competing against the the 3DS. Wii U is an example of a console that never got off the ground much like Vita, yet instead of abandoning it Nintendo invested further time, money and effort into it. They’ve got a new design on the way, and knowing the company’s reputation it’ll probably make a large part of Wii U’s peripherals and games library compatible with that new design. They’ve lost a ton of money no doubt, and it’s all gone awry, but they’ve stuck to it all the same.

    Frankly, there’s loads of things Sony could have done to revitalise the console, but they basically screwed it over (something I’ve talked about no end). I know they’d never do the same with the PS4, there’s no fear of them abandoning that console, but Sony now appear to me to be hypocrites. As for there future fads, it’ll be hit and miss. How long before Morpheus gets abandoned like Playstation Move and PlayStation TV. #not4thegamers #4thewhimsofsony

    • I’d have to disagree with you on a point or two. They obviously think it’s not worth the effort and must surely have to do with Sony concentrating on profitable ventures with a decent shelf life. As you rightly stated, the Vita came off of the back of the PSP but that didn’t have anywhere near the recognition and presence that Nintendo’s had. This also makes the comparison to how Nintendo has handled the Wii U a little off-kilter seeing as they were riding in off of the enormous success of the original Wii – something that Sony clearly didn’t have with the PSP although this is more of a technicality as oppose to some conceptual screw-ups I mention below.

      Sony has definitely made mistakes and one might even go back to the drawing board and look at how Nintendo’s handheld bridges the gap between the stereotypical mobile game (or at least how they’re perceived) and what we usually play on the home consoles. For my metaphorical money, the likes of the DS/3DS straddles both worlds competently. The PSP and Vita never did such a thing. It went after a more serious market and leant heavily towards the home consoles with technological prowess that enabled us to play meatier games on the go, as such.

      This, to me, is a huge misstep and I think Sony is learning the hard way.

      You are, however, absolutely spot on about the fact that Sony could have easily positioned themselves better but rescuing the Vita is passed it’s expiry date.

      • I didn’t address all of your points about things Sony could have done during the early parts of the Vita’s life as you were correct. Shame they didn’t back it properly but I feel like it was damned from the off. :-(

      • Your first point pretty much comes under my first paragraph. Anyone can claim that it is just ‘business’, and fine, but that decimates their standing with customers. Are not the customers the business? Then again Sony can just fall back on the PS4 customer base and keep on smiling, and such a move comes off as a bit ugly when their Vita customer base are the ones with unsupported hardware.

        It borders onto another point that Sony could have a done a much better job by being openly honest about their abandonment of Vita. They’ve made things so much more disagreeable by ego boosting themselves with the PS4, and making silly claims like ‘the mobile market killed vita’ and ‘PlayStation Pets being a AAA game on a console still being supported’. It’s crazy that Sony have only just made the official announcement about Vita now. As others have mentioned, it’s been dull for at least 12 months.

        I felt like the console was doomed to go the same way as the PSP. Start on a high, slowly slump back, and then get revived half through the life cycle. It was no where near sustainable to start off with, but that’s where improvement came in, or so I thought :(

      • Your notions and idealistic thoughts are something that Sony simply couldn’t match with the choices they’d made. It’s such a shame, as I can’t help but feel like it could have been far more of a success if they’d thought things through properly in the beginning but there we go. They’ve learnt the hard way and now they’re letting Vita fans down en masse. :-(

        Keep in mind that your opinion is by no means beyond reach. Just beyond Sony’s reach back then. I wasn’t implying that it was impossible to achieve. :-)

  3. The Vita is without a doubt dead. This is a shame as in its first 16-24 months on the western markets, it delivered some outstanding experiences and games worth buying for the platform alone. It even delivered games that were better on the platform than anywhere else (Rayman Origins).

    That being said, the lack of first party games has contributed heavily to its sharp decline. Whereas the PSP in its final years got Final Fantasy & God Of War entries as well as mid tiered games such as SOCOM, the Vita is being populated by indie titles mostly.

    Sure, some of these are amazing on the Vita. Hotline Miami 2 & Shovel Knight are brilliant games perfect for the Vita. But the lack of established titles on the platform is disconcerting.

    As well as this, you have to look at the high price point not only for its console but its accessories. I remember getting my Vita at launch + Golden Abyss, an accessory kit, 16gb memory card and escape plan download. The cost was around £350.

    Is it too early? On this evidence no. But if they invest in it as they did with PSP a year after the PS3 released, I wouldn’t bet against a mini resurgence of sorts.

    One thing though-it will be Sony’s last handheld.

  4. I do believe the Vita was abandoned too soon but I also understand why.

    Mainstream media had written the Vita off before it was even released and that kind of negative stigma is hard to overcome.

    They had too many factors going against them (Niche market / Rise of mobile gaming / Negative perception etc.). They were never going to turn it around no matter how much money they threw at it. And they didn’t have much to throw at the time.

    Sometimes, you need to cut your losses and move on. It’s the right thing to do from a business perspective but the consumer is left holding the short end of the stick. It’s one of the reasons I’m holding off buying into VR. It’s a risk. Sometimes you win, sometimes you loose.

    Nintendo found themselves in a similar situation with the wii U. NX is out next year. Cut your losses and move on.

  5. Well, to be honest, I have been under the impression that the Vita has been all but abandoned for a couple of years.
    I know there have been a small handful of games released for it (not counting pixel indies), but considering what they set out to do with it (or what they said they would) they left their handheld behind a long time ago.

    I seem to recall talks of implementing the Vita as a second screen for games (like binoculars, xray vision, augmented reality etc) and there was a lot of talk about companion apps and soforth. Which were the main selling points for me way back when, because I wanted to use it in combination with my PS3 and PS4 – not just in addition to.

    And speaking of which, cross play has not been implemented as much as they led us to believe either, I know there are a few titles that use it, but I don’t really care for most of them.
    The whole “play your game at home, then pause it and pick up where you left when you’re on the bus” song and dance turned out to be not much more than that.

    I should have known something was up when they revealed that they hadn’t learned from the PSP, and introduced yet a platform specific memory card.

  6. The Vita still stands to be useful thanks to the brilliant remote play feature, but the price and fact that it’s not pushed as such a gadget are holding it back. Fair enough Sony can’t really market it anymore, that would be a bit fickle, but they could at least try harder with a PS4 and Vita bundle with vouchers for the best first party Vita games thrown in. Awareness alone could keep the Vita afloat considering the amazing number of indie games that are being released on the little beast.

  7. The Vita is an amazing piece of tech, but there are just too many factors working against it. Some Sony could have controlled and some they could not. Nintendo and the mobile market leave little room for competition, but that isn’t the whole story.

    – Proprietary memory cards are anti-consumer and still outrageously priced.
    – Remote play is a brilliant idea, but the lack of multiple shoulder buttons, or an add on to allow a physical L2 and R2, complicates many PS4 games.
    – Plus Sony’s never really been the strongest when it comes to marketing. Tearaway was a critical darling, but sold abysmally.

    I really though with the release of the PS4 it was going to get an extra life, especially with the similarities between the Vita’s controls and the DualShock 4. Remote play, second screen, cross buy, cross save, and cross play were all brilliant, innovative, pro-consumer ideas. Sadly, I think the Vita already had one foot in the grave when it started to realize its potential.

    Only thing I’m still looking forward to is DrinkBox’s Severed, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least bit if its delay was simply granting extra time to port it to PS4 as well.

  8. I’d have abandoned it at concept stage tbh! The PSP was a disaster, so why on Earth they thought Vita would work when smart phones had become common place.

    • The PSP was a disaster?

      82 million sales have it above the 3DS and just below the PS3.

  9. Too soon? They abandoned it years ago.

  10. Without doubt, although sadly the abandonment is not a recent thing.

    Shutting down studios when they could have pushed the Vita was a big mistake.

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