How the PS Vita Turned Into Sony’s Big Failure
It was a sad time for PS Vita owners during the last few months of 2016 when Sony announced they had stopped producing first party games for the console and choosing instead to concentrate on the PS4. But is this move a surprise by Sony?
The Vita’s predecessor was the reasonably successful PSP (PlayStation Portable), which was released by Sony to try and tear some of the market away from the Nintendo, whose DS had been a huge success. The PSP offered a range of amazing titles such as Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and LocoRoco and also had a wide range of UMDs to watch on the go. It was a pretty decent alternative on the market for those people who didn’t want a DS.
In 2012, Sony rolled out the new and improved PSP which was the PS Vita. To put it simply, it was the PSP but on steroids. Featuring touch screen technology and an interactive back panel, internet on the go so you could browse the web and check your emails, it was a serious bit of kit. But for all the flashy lights the console had, it also came with some serious potholes.
Even today, the PS Vita is an expensive addition to any gamer’s collection, but at the time the prices were crazy. Costing almost double the price than the Nintendo alternative, potential customers also had to shell out to purchase a memory card designed specifically for the Vita. Even now the 132GB memory card is going for a crazy £132.99 at GAME. To ensure you had the best experience, you found your bank account was starting to feel a bit lonely.
The games that were produced for the Vita were of amazing quality and Uncharted: Golden Abyss was maybe one of the most beautiful games ever made for a handheld console. But the new releases schedule was starting to look a bit thin, whilst Nintendo were chucking games out, quickly providing people with more choice.
It is worth mentioning as well that portable gaming has never really been a huge thing over here in Europe. The Japanese audience love the DS and the Vita, but the whole craze has never really caught on. It may be worth noting that the Vita has suffered because they were unable to wrestle the market share away from Nintendo across the pond. Sales figures from November 2016 put the Nintendo 3DS at 70,000 units sold while the Vita sold just over 11,000. On an interesting side note, the new Pokemon game sold over two million units in that same period.
The other big factor that had an impact not just on the PS Vita but also on the DS was the rise of the cheap smartphone. The app stores both on IOS and on Android are packed with free-to-play games that can take up hours of people’s time. Sure, you need to spend real money to really get anywhere in the games (damn you in-app purchases), but the fact is still there. The majority of the population now own smartphones and so portable consoles will quickly become a thing of the past.
Mobile gaming is a multi-million dollar industry with big games such as Angry Birds, MineCraft and Fallout Shelter becoming more and more popular and easily accessible for all ages. Looking at the growth of the mobile industry, the possibility of portable gaming becoming extinct is huge due to this reason alone. Whilst browsing through the IOS store I even found a downloadable version of the Nintendo classic Secret of Mana at the small price of £2.99! Even the Final Fantasy games aren’t that cheap on PS Vita.
Sony practically priced themselves out of the market with the Vita with a ridiculous start up cost and with very little to offer afterwards, which is a shame. I personally own one of these consoles and they are pretty damn good.
All of that to one side, if you are offered a Vita at a reasonable price I would still recommend picking one up. There is a massive catalogue of games available through the store with Final Fantasy VII being one of them, and it still is an amazing alternative to the 3DS.