Sony Abandoned Handheld Gaming

While the Nintendo Switch continues to rise in popularity, Sony continues to move away from their last attempt at a handheld console.

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Walker Winkler

The PlayStation Vita was joke to many large titles, such as MLB The Show. For several years these games found a new home in the PlayStation Vita, allowing them to be played mobile rather on the standard console. After 2015 though, the MLB games were dropped from the console, showing off the new end for the PlayStation Vita.

Six years after the release of PlayStation Portable, Sony was prepared to release the PlayStation Vita. Although popular when it first came out, Sony abandoned the console only a couple years after launch. Following the success of the Nintendo Switch, Sony has missed out on a very popular and open market.

 

The PlayStation Vita launched in 2011 and saw installments from series such as: Call of Duty, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona, MLB The Show and Danganronpa. Although these series appeared on the PlayStation Vita, games from major series were either lower quality ports on home consoles or remakes of older games. 

 

“Creating the PS Vita was not a horrible idea, as it gave them an insight into how a console developed by them for handheld use would perform on the market,” senior Ryan Johnson said. “The portability of the PS Vita harmed the marketing a little bit as the portability of the console made the overall viewing experience and gameplay a little less connected than that of a regular console.”

 

The PlayStation Vita was officially discontinued in March of 2019, but the decline of the system happened during 2015. Around this time, most of the major game series on the Vita pulled their entries and started to transition to other consoles. Also around this time, Sony unveiled and discontinued the PlayStation TV, which acted as a home console version of the PlayStation Vita.

 

“The majority of their sales come from the PlayStation [home consoles] and they should continue to be on the console train as Microsoft gradually moves towards being a PC,” senior Ryan Henneman said. “There is no reason why Sony should get back into the [handheld] market.” 

 

In more recent times, users have purchased Nintendo Switch consoles to pass the time indoors. With games such as Animal Crossing: New Horizons releasing in March and Super Mario 3D All-Stars releasing in September, more users have turned to handheld consoles to play video games. It is important to note that all of the aforementioned series listed that performed on the PlayStation Vita have yet to release a game on the Nintendo Switch, as of writing.

 

“[Nintendo] seem to have figured out a solid balance between portability and the graphics displayed, which I believe is a key factor to their success,” Johnson said. “They might not have a great selection in their store front, but they do have really outstanding hardware developed for the system.”

 

As recently as October 9, Sony has tried to distance itself from the PlayStation Vita, announcing that the web and mobile versions of the PlayStation stores would stop selling Vita games. Reported by Wesley Yin-Poole of Eurogamer, Sony warned their development partners that the PlayStation Store will stop carrying Vita games on mobile and the web as a part of a system refresh for the PlayStation 5 launch.

 

“Even when the [Nintendo] Switch came out, it initially sold out everywhere whereas when the PS Vita came out it wasn’t even that technologically advanced,” Henneman said. “It was good, but even a few more years of research and development wouldn’t have helped it.”

 

Even nine years after the initial launch, developers are still creating games for the PlayStation Vita. The console was popular when it launched, but morphed over the years to serve a more niche market. The market now holds users of both the PS Vita and the Nintendo Switch, with the Switch being a large cause of that niche market growing into a much larger platform.