Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to honor the life of a fallen comrade, a soldier in the console wars who put their boots to the ground and sadly was taken from us before its time. I’m talking about the PlayStation Vita, a sizable lad, an absolute unit, who perhaps flew a bit too close to the sun. It was truly a great device, full of joy and wonders that could have been revolutionary for the handheld gaming scene. Unfortunately, due to some bad decisions by its very creators, the little platform that could may have been doomed right out of the gate. But at this time, let’s all come together and, instead of mourn, be happy for all the great times we had together with our Vitas. There weren’t very many of us, but those who stuck around until the end will always have our memories.
Ahem. So, I’m writing this because of recent news that Sony is ceasing production on Vita cartridges. The costs to manufacture the carts have been deemed far too great to justify making more. Once the last few games roll out, including probably some titles from Limited Run Games, and other niche titles like Bloodstained, a Kickstarter joint, that’s it. Even if we still get the occasional indies and Japanese dungeon-crawlers, there won’t be any new physical releases. I wouldn’t expect the tiny, little Vita shelf at your local GameStop to last much longer than that.
It's a real shame! The Vita showed so much promise back in the day. The launch models still have the most amazing screens in all of handheld gaming – they may not have been a full 720p but man is that OLED glow the stuff of legends. And the library has been a hoot as well! Many games, like Gravity Rush, Persona 4 Golden, and Freedom Wars were all so fun and so unique, games that could likely have only materialized at their time on a dedicated Sony platform. The platform even became and early home for indies on the go, well before the Nintendo Switch was a thing. In fact, many have looked at the Switch as a Vita without all the baggage, and it’s hard to disagree with.
Unfortunately, the Vita was just far too burdened with PS3-era Sony’s baffling philosophies for it to ever truly be successful. There was too much fiddling with unwieldy tech for it to truly be accessible or appealing to any but the most hardcore, and too much reaction to the competition. Also, Sony did that thing where it jumped ship as soon as the waters grew turbulent, outright ditching it when it didn’t light the world on fire. From the overly expensive, propriety memory cards to the failed 3G gimmick and the unnecessary touch components, there was just too much hanging off the Vita that wasn’t “cool-ass video games.”
I still play my Vita today. There are games on that platform that likely won’t show up anywhere else, and games on that platform I would rather play handheld than on consoles, even if the PS4 versions run better. Games like Digimon: Cyber Sleuth, Undertale, and of course any number of first-person dungeon-crawlers when I’m feeling like grinding. In a world that is supporting both the Switch and the 3DS, it’s a real shame we have to start saying goodbye to the Vita.
I wish there was more we could do as fans, or that there was more Sony could do to keep the dream alive. But at the same time, perhaps the best course of action is to keep the momentum going with the Switch, to ensure the history of high-fidelity handheld gaming can carry on.