There’s always talk about what companies could do in the future. With Sony, speculation is running rampant. The company canceled the 2018 PlayStation Experience and the 2019 E3 appearance. A PlayStation 5 announcement is likely coming in a year or two. But another big if has to do with a handheld. Lots of speculation is suggesting Sony could be working on some sort of a successor to the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation Vita. Could it be true and is such a thing even necessary?
First, let’s talk about why all this is coming up now. John Kodera, the PlayStation CEO, has been talking a bit about handhelds. In May 2018, he conducted an interview with Bloomberg and said, “In my opinion, rather than separating portable gaming from consoles, it’s necessary to continue thinking of it [portable gaming] as one method to deliver more gaming experiences and exploring what our customers want from portable. We want to think about many options.” Then, in November 2018, people went into a flurry thinking a game cartridge patent was for a new handheld console. (It is really for a Toio device.) But suggestions have gotten people thinking.
But, is it something necessary? Is it something that might be necessary? It could very well be. Sony handhelds have devoted fan followings. People still port-beg for PlayStation Vita releases of major games. Some third-party developers are still creating titles for the device. Remote play is heralded by some PlayStation 4 owners as a very wonderful and appreciated thing. The faithful could definitely still appreciate and need such a system, which would be to Sony’s benefit to pay attention.
It could also be a good idea, in terms of money. The PlayStation Portable performed reasonably well for Sony. At Gamescom 2019, Sony put out a press release saying over 52.9 million units had been sold worldwide. Some sales estimates, after the fact, suggest between 76 million and 82 million units were eventually sold. That marks it as a success, outperforming systems like the Game Boy Advance or even the PlayStation Vita, showing that Sony has a history of making a handheld console that was well accepted by gamers.
Though when it comes to the Vita, we aren’t really sure how well the system sold. Sony was not as forthcoming about its sales figures. One of the very few numbers the company released was to say that 1.2 million Vitas were sold as of the end of February 2012 and that it did not sell 10 million of them by March 2013. Media Create said its data reported 5 million sold in Japan by 2016. We only have estimates that suggest 10-15 million could have been sold. This could cause Sony to shy away, especially since the PlayStation 4 is performing so well.
So no, Sony doesn’t “need” to make another handheld system. The company is doing well enough with its various electronic brands and the PlayStation 4 to get by and maybe only have a PlayStation 5 in the next generation. But, there is a demand for Sony handhelds. The PlayStation Portable performed well, and even though the PlayStation Vita wasn’t as big a success, it still has inspired a lot of loyalty. It is probably unlikely we will see a new system, but it is encouraging to hear the CEO speak positively about one.