Ever since Sony announced the PlayStation 4, people have been inexplicably merciful to the Vita. I'm not sure if it's because gamers are secretly pulling for Sony's troubled handheld as if it were a character in Mighty Ducks 2, or if we're all just in a forgiving mood because Sony has a new flagship on the horizon. Either way, the mountains of Vita hatred have been replaced with cautious optimism. The unfortunate truth, though, is that very little has changed.
The Vita is a powerful little machine, to be sure, but power is only useful when developers are interested. (Remember the Dreamcast?) And even though the Vita has been around for over a year, developers are still worried about its future in the industry. Sony has released a bunch of top-notch little titles, like Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, but even these are too infrequent to justify a Vita purchase. And the fact that they're also available on the PS3 doesn't help the Vita's case.
So, if we're being honest, the Vita has become a retirement home for PlayStation 2 games.
The number of classical titles that are supported on the Vita vastly outnumbers the newly developed games, and the problem is only getting worse. Sure, games like the Metal Gear Solid HD Edition are a perfect fit for the Vita, but they don't exactly generate a lot of excitement for the console. It's slowly becoming like one of those knockoff consoles that plays NES, SNES, and Genesis titles. You know the ones that I'm talking about; they're sold at mall kiosks by people who don't shower.
And even though, based on its potential, the Vita probably doesn't deserve this categorization, reality is reality. And the PlayStation 4 doesn't change anything. Sure, you'll be able to use the Vita as a second screen, but that feature has been around since the PlayStation Portable was alive, and very few developers have actually taken advantage of it. Plus, if people were actually drawn to cross-platform play, the Wii U probably wouldn't be doing so poorly.
This Vita is like one of those high school kids that are really intelligent, but lack the social skills to successfully integrate into the community. We're never going to see the little handheld turn around until it throws a few parties and gets a little drunk. But until this happens, we'll just keep hoping that Sony can convince third-party developers to start using the Vita's features, or that Sony takes the reins on their lineup. Otherwise, the Vita will continue to be a very expensive console that's geared toward very casual gamers. And that's not exactly a winning combination.
Date: April 8, 2013