So, Kotaku has apparently learned that Sony is to cease production of physical PlayStation Vita games.
It means that aside from a slew of releases that are already in the bag, developers shortly won’t be able to make their games physically available for the much-loved handheld console. They can still be released digitally, however.
Of course, the doom and gloom brigade has been at it, declaring that the Vita is dead. But we’ve already had that before, when Sony announced that there’d be no more first party titles being developed. And to be honest, the Vita was effectively dead before that. It was dead as soon as it launched, which is a shame, as it was a seriously impressive piece of kit.
A false start
I was one of those people who excitedly pre-ordered a PlayStation Vita for launch. I bought it from the now defunct Play.com, bundled with a copy of Rayman Origins. Upon delivery, my friends were envious, but they insisted that they wouldn’t buy one until something like Gran Turismo was released for it. And of course, that never happened.
The PlayStation Vita, in my opinion, could have been big. A real lack of support from Sony quashed all the potential it had though. Granted, they released some decent first party titles for it, but no real system sellers. A portable Gran Turismo could have indeed done the trick. Or perhaps even a new God Of War game rather than just a couple of remaster bundles.
Third party AAA support wasn’t much better, either. Everyone thought Call of Duty coming to the PlayStation Vita would be big, but then it turned out to be trash. Who was to blame? Probably Sony and Activision. Where was the quality control? It was in both parties’ interests to release a hit, but instead we got something just shoved out of the door. Titles like Borderlands 2 were also too little, too late.
And then there was the memory card problem. Opting to use expensive proprietary memory cards instead of cheaper but less secure ones already on the market, Sony added a cost to the hardware that was hard to swallow. Over the life of the Vita, I amassed a collection of memory card ranging from 4-64 GB. If I remember correctly, I paid about £100 for the 64 GB. I don’t regret it one bit, but it’s a lot of money when you consider that a SD card of the same size costs a fraction of the price.
While the Vita was dead from the outset though, it’s also very much alive. It’s undead.
Life in the old dog
From day one, the love that indies showered upon the PlayStation Vita was what kept it truly interesting. Much like the Nintendo Switch right now, it was independent developers that meaningfully expanded its library of games. They released one hit after another, and Vita owners lapped them up. And it continues. I daresay that long after the death of physical Vita games, indie developers will still be releasing games digitally for it.
Niche Japanese games have also made the Vita somewhat of a cult console. On what other handheld can you play classics like Suikoden, as well as more modern titles like Demon Gaze? Nowhere, that’s where. For me, it’s worth keeping hold of my Vita just to boot up Suikoden 1 & 2 once in a while to relive their glory.
So, I guess what I’m saying is: Sony may not be making any more games for the Vita, and soon physical games will also be a thing of the past, but it’s still alive and kicking. It’s still a capable piece of hardware, and as long as indies are able to release games digitally on it, it’ll be loved. The Nintendo Switch may have stolen some of its thunder, but there’s still a spark of life left in it. Remember, ‘Vita’ means life. And as such, it can not, and will not, die.