It looks like the time for Sony to officially put the Vita out to pasture has come. We reported that Sony would no longer produce physical Vita games from March of next year. Now it seems like Sony is bowing out of the portable console industry for good. It has been announced that they’re going to stop producing new Vita consoles next year. Furthermore, the Senior Vice President of Sony Interactive Entertainment, Hiroyuki Oda, has stated in an interview with Famitsu that there are no plans for a successor.
“Currently, we do not have any plans regarding a new handheld device… In Japan, we will manufacture PlayStation Vita until 2019. From there, shipping will end.”
Whilst this may not be surprising news for Sony’s black sheep of a console, it is somewhat disappointing. The PlayStation Vita had much promise, and several appealing exclusive titles, such as Persona 4: Golden and Gravity Rush. However, it suffered from several missteps which impeded its success.
The lack of first party support after 2015 led to a lack of quality AAA releases on the system, leaving it as a bastion for indie games and quirky Japanese imports. Furthermore, the mandatory and expensive proprietary memory card was an annoying hassle for Vita owners. Sony never quite found a compelling way to position the Vita, leaving it as a companion console to the PS4.
As audiences did not gravitate towards the Vita due to the lack of support, less developers flocked to make games for it. According to an interview with Polygon, Sony Interactive Entertainment of America president Shawn Layden explains the downward spiral that led to the system’s demise.
“For whatever reason, and there are a host of them, and there are even more reasons if we were drinking beer,” he said, “Vita just didn’t reach that critical mass with the audience and thereby, the development community doesn’t get behind it and thereby, the audience doesn’t come, and it’s a quick negative spiral effect.”
He does note that the Vita had continued to perform well in Asia, where it received more support from developers. In the West, however, the Vita was practically dead on arrival. The fact that games such as the upcoming Bloodstained are snubbing the Vita was one of the final nails in the coffin.
The utter juggernaut that was the Nintendo Switch entering the portable console race cemented the Vita’s downfall. This is probably what has motivated Sony’s decision to not follow up the Vita with another portable successor. It is unfortunate that Sony is pulling out of the portable console space, thereby removing a potential competitor to the Switch. However, this has demonstrated that launching a successful console requires a lot of investment. Considering the significant success Sony has seen with the PS4, it would make sense for them to focus on its home console.