Sony PlayStation recently celebrated its 25th anniversary on 3 December. Throughout its history, the brand has graced us with various home gaming console systems, as well as handhelds. In the latter’s case, however, it seems that the company will no longer be producing any future versions of the PlayStation Portable (PSP) or PS Vita.
Speaking to Game Informer in their PlayStation 25th Anniversary cover story, Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO Jim Ryan expressed his experience with the PlayStation Vita, and also explained the brand’s current stance in the handheld gaming console market.
“PlayStation Vita was brilliant in many ways, and the actual gaming experience was great, but clearly it’s a business we’re no longer in,” explained Ryan.
Sony made its debut in handheld gaming by introducing the PSP back in 2005, and it was then followed by a large fanbase and a healthy library of games from first and third party developers. Thanks to games such as Monster Hunter Freedom Unite and Tekken 6 which allowed for local multiplayer via ad-hoc connectivity, the PSP’s popularity among gamers grew tremendously.
Sony would then try to replicate their success in the handheld scene by releasing a successor to the PSP. Superior in features and graphical capabilities compared to its rival, the Nintendo DS, the PS Vita was one of the most advanced handheld consoles ever produced when it was launched in 2012. However, the Vita struggled to meet expectations and was still leagues away from achieving the success of its predecessor.
Even with games such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss, and Killzone: Mercenary which managed to retain the look and feel of its home console counterparts, the Vita’s popularity continued to dwindle. Fans remarked that its touchscreen and rear touchpad functions were unnecessary yet underutilised, while others commented that it was lacking first party support from Sony themselves. Sure enough, Sony ended its development support for the PlayStation Vita in 2015, and production of the handheld console and its games finally came to a halt in March 2019.
As we have previously reported, Sony recently patented a cartridge unit that was initially believed to be associated with a potential successor to the Vita. However, and to the disappointment of fans, it turns out that the cartridge was part of Sony’s “Toio” project which focuses on edutainment-oriented electronic toys for children.
The Vita’s failure is most likely one of the main reasons behind Sony’s decision to depart from the handheld console scene. With its fate now sealed, perhaps we may no longer see another handheld PlayStation console anytime soon. But with the growing success of the Nintendo Switch, fans could only hope that Sony might one day change their minds.
(Source: Game Informer // Images: Sony)