Why It Failed And What It’s Like In 2022

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Why Did The PS Vita Die? What Is It Like In 2022?

We’re looking back at technology from decades past and paying homage to their contribution to the tech world, as well as seeing how it would be like to use them in 2022. With that, today’s featured item is the Sony PlayStation (PS) Vita. This handheld console from Sony was destined to be a second hit after the highly-successful PlayStation Portable (PSP). However, competition and certain conditions at the time halted its rally.

The console was initially launched in December of 2011 in Japan and in early 2012 everywhere else. The company put together quite a team to create the Vita: Takashi Sogabe was placed in charge of its design. Just in case you weren’t in the loop, this man was a 27-year veteran of Sony at the time, designing the legendary Walkman. Considering that the PSP was an all-time great with over 81 million sales worldwide, development for the PS Vita began years prior to its release.

Photo: Kiznaiver

Sony had set its goals of delivering a console-quality experience in a portable package more than the PSP ever could. They would also find better ways to integrate PlayStation Network functionality and online play since internet technology was progressing at a blistering pace. There is also much speculation that they wanted to build a more secure system to prevent piracy from becoming as rampant as it was with the PSP. The lack of piracy countermeasures with the PSP discouraged game developers from investing too much into the platform.

The PS Vita had a lot going for it at the time. It featured dual analog sticks to emulate the experience of the DualShock controllers on the PlayStation 3. It also came with rear touchpads for increased controls and better ergonomics. At the center was the highlight of the show: a then-gigantic 5-inch OLED display. That’s right, it featured OLED technology which was very impressive at the time. This made for superb and vivid color reproduction. To top it off, this display was a touch screen.

Photo: Sony

At launch, the PS Vita had a promising library of around 25-30 games. This collection was a mix of AAA titles and unique pieces from third-party developers. Among these were titles like UNCHARTED Golden Abyss, Wipeout 2048, F1 2011, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, EA Sports FIFA Soccer, and a plethora of other titles. The PS Vita’s future was glowing increasingly bright.

If you think about it now, having a PlayStation on the go sounds so lucrative. It’s the ideal device to bring along, play some games, and have a blast doing so with friends. Back then though, the general consumer would rely on multiple gadgets on an everyday basis – and now, it appears that only one has remained. In our opinion, that’s the biggest reason why the PS Vita didn’t find extreme success.

Before we get into this, we’d also like to mention that the Vita was outdone by its competition from Nintendo. The Nintendo 3DS is now a classic. While it didn’t sell as much as the DS Lite, it still exponentially trumped the Vita’s numbers. Just to give you a brief idea, the 3DS sold around 75 million consoles to the PlayStation’s 15 million. Despite this information, it could be argued that both of these devices lost to the innovation of the smartphone.

By the time 2011 rolled around, smartphones were nothing compared to what we have now. Yet they were no longer in their infancy either, as both hardware and software (Android and iOS) had progressed to a point wherein you could play some games on them. Keep in mind that the devices at the time were the Apple iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy SII, HTC Thunderbolt, and Galaxy Nexus. These were enough to scratch the gaming itch of most casual gamers who would have been more easily convinced to buy a PS Vita or 3DS if there were absolutely no options available.

Because of this as well as other factors, dedicated handheld gaming consoles went on a decline. The PS Vita started losing support from the largest game producers in the world. This was because the cost of porting their hit titles over to the Vita was not a financially-wise decision since the handheld had a relatively small market. What the PS Vita gained though, was a hardcore following among indie game makers, Japanese RPGs, and visual novels, and the fans of the genre. Anime classics such as Sword Art Online had multiple games dedicated to the Vita. In its own right, it became a cult classic.

The PS Vita saw a slim version in 2014. It had exactly the same processor and RAM as the original, but came with a bit more storage in a more compact shell. Unfortunately, the OLED display was switched out with an LCD to gain a competitive edge in pricing. Some people found the refresh appealing and decided to make the purchase. This breathed a bit of new life into the series.

That was not enough for Sony to keep it on its lifeline though. With the massive sales brought in by the PlayStation 4, the handheld console was simply disregarded. Marketing for it was severely lacking, indicative of the lack of attention the company was willing to pay it. The PS Vita was considered a commercial flop and was officially pulled off the production line in 2018 and 2019. The last new games for the console were Russian Subway Dogs and Ultra Mission. You can still access the PlayStation Store via the PS Vita and the PS3, but payments using a card or PayPal have both been shut off. You’ll have to buy PS credits in order to access the library that’s still available.

Still in its pouch from many years ago.

Going on this trip down memory lane made me want to open up my old PS Vita to relive the experience. It definitely feels comfortable to hold, with everything within reach. What’s shocking is that the screen is still decent in terms of color and brightness by 2022 standards. It’s just a lot smaller than I remember. In 2011, I was using a 4.3-inch HTC Desire HD so the Vita felt expansive by comparison. Coming from a daily Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra now, it seems like a toy.

I booted up some Freedom Wars and Persona 4: Golden, instantly finding myself immersed. The graphics are clear markers of the device’s age since today’s smartphones can surely output higher graphics settings. However, there’s something special about gaming on the whole package. The device is still amazingly solid and a worthy travel companion in this day and age. I found an hour and a half to be over in an instant before I had to get back to work. I’ll probably be playing this in bed at night and looking on the market for some titles from the land of the rising sun.

This brings a lot of nostalgia and will definitely be a collector’s item for those who had fond memories of it. Surprisingly enough, PS Vita games are still relatively expensive on the secondhand market. This holds especially true for games from Japan, based on popular anime franchises. It could be that these games were manufactured in small quantities due to unsure demand, but have now become must-play rarities.

In 2022, we’ve seen how successful the Nintendo Switch is. With its easy HDMI connectivity and portable multiplayer, it’s undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with. However, we are sure that we won’t forget the underdog PS Vita that tried to perfect the recipe the original PSP brought forward to the world. I’m sure it still holds a special place in a lot of people’s hearts.

Article From: HowToGeek