Nintendo are pretty much the kings of the handheld console, and it was always unlikely that, despite being a console giant, Sony would be able to usurp their throne with the PS Vita. That said, I don’t think anyone expected the possibility of Sony dropping out of the handheld game altogether. However, at a recent EGX Q&A, Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida seemed to be indicating that it doesn’t look like there’s much chance of another Playstation Vita. Transcribed by Eurogamer, when asked if Sony will ever develop a Vita successor, Yoshida said:
“That’s a tough question. People have mobile phones and it’s so easy to play games on smartphones, and many games on smartphones are free, or free to start. I myself am a huge fan of PlayStation Vita and we worked really hard on designing every aspect. Touch-based games are fun—there are many games with really good design. But having sticks and buttons make things totally different. So I hope, like many of you, that this culture of playing portable games continues but the climate is not healthy for now because of the huge dominance of mobile gaming.”
You can see the whole thing here:
This isn’t exactly a direct admission that there’ll be no successor to the PS Vita, but it’s hardly encouraging alongside the news that Sony are no longer making AAA games for the Vita. This is a shame; it’s not that the PS Vita was a bad handheld by any means and it’d be disappointing if Sony refused to keep up their handheld devices just because of the looming mobile market.
Nintendo’s 3DS is doing fine in the current climate, the 3DS has sold over 50 million units, so what’s the deal, Yoshida? I’d argue the sticks and buttons making things totally different is a good thing; it gives your handheld console something to distinguish itself from the mobile most consumers already have, it offers an on-the-go gaming experience that feels more dedicated.
It seems more like Sony are using excuses to back out of a battle they can’t really be bothered fighting and weren’t that committed to in the first place.
Perhaps if Sony had given the Vita the development and attention it warrants, it could have been a more successful device for them. Granted they don’t have the Nintendo classics like Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon, but so many of the classic PS1 and PS2 games that would have been perfect to port onto a handheld console that supposedly offered console quality gaming were never taken advantage of.
Instead they made spin-off games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Assassin’s Creed: Liberation that made you feel as if you were being fobbed off as a lesser console owner. Don’t even get us started on their dedicated memory cards that cost ridiculous sums for the storage space they offer compared to the size of the game files players are buying. It was a business plan that felt like nothing more than greed.
They can blame the climate all they want, and no doubt it does have something to do with it, the gaming industry is changing rapidly and the mobile market is booming in Japan after all, but Sony are at least a bit to blame for the Vita’s failure and I’d quite like to see them hold their hands up and admit “We kind of fucked it up and we’re not really willing to try again.”
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