The end is nigh for the PlayStation Vita as Sony ends production of retail releases. Fans shouldn’t panic just yet, as the hardware manufacturer will maintain digital distribution.
By 31 March 2019, Sony America and Europe plan to conclude the production of Vita GameCards. The company asks that all requests for Vita product codes be submitted by 28 June 2018, and final purchase orders are made by 15 February 2019. Production continues in Japan presumably as no comment has been made about its status and is still relatively in high demand.
First released across Japan in 2011 and later to the rest of the world in 2012, the PS Vita was received with generally positive reviews. It initially sold more than 300,000 units in Japan and 200,000 in North America. Despite quite a strong start, sales suddenly fell in both regions. Japan records a 78% second-week drop-off which stabilised at 12,000 units per week. North America followed a similar trend of about 30,000 to 50,000 units sold per month for the following year. Sony was far below their worldwide sales target of 10 million Vitas by April 2013.
The ‘handheld that could’ still found its place in the world, creating a community of adamant gamers. The device quickly became a great companion to the PlayStation 4 in 2013 and Sony tinkered with their marketing angle. The Vita became a niche system for amazing Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPGs), indie games, and more obscure and abstract titles. It almost became the must-have for any indie developer on their list of platforms, etching a canvas that the Nintendo handhelds couldn’t match. Persona 4 Golden, Gravity Rush, Freedom Wars, and Tearaway all leave fond memories on many hearts and souls. The good news is Sony wants to push the life of the Vita as long as possible, as titles still become available for free each month with PlayStation Plus.
The ‘Dreamcast of handhelds‘ won’t go down without a well-fought battle. The community around the Vita still has high hopes for new releases like ‘Gundam Breaker 3‘ and ‘Catherine‘. However, with the release of the incredibly popular Nintendo Switch in 2017, the Vita evidently can no longer keep up with the hardware and ease of newer systems and games. E3 is around the corner and more enlightening or depressing news is undoubtedly on the way for the PlayStation Vita.
We’re an inch closer to tucking in our Vitas and saying goodnight forever, though the community is dedicated and will remain so until the very end.