- Sony has discontinued production of the PlayStation Vita, the least successful of its video game consoles.
- The Vita launched in December 2011 as a successor to the PlayStation Portable but failed to catch on with gamers or as a portable media device.
- The handheld console’s demise isn’t shocking – Sony announced in September that it would be winding down production of the Vita, and it has no plans for another portable console.
The PlayStation Vita is officially a thing of the past. Polygon reported on Saturday that Sony had discontinued the last two active product numbers for the handheld video game console, meaning no more Vitas will be produced.
The Vita had a tough and largely forgettable seven-year life as the successor to the PlayStation Portable, never really finding its place in a world that was quickly adopting smartphones. While the PlayStation Vita offered a healthy selection of games and made notable improvements to the media features of the PSP, it couldn’t keep up with the rapidly improving app-based experiences of iPhones and Android devices.
With both the Vita and the PlayStation Portable, Sony made the mistake of trying to shrink an at-home entertainment experience into a portable device. As media players, the Vita and the PSP were mediocre at best, and as smartphones became more present Sony’s handhelds lagged behind other devices in utility.
For gamers, the Vita failed to provide the sort of innovation that players found in Nintendo’s more popular handhelds, the DS and the 3DS. Despite launching with much weaker hardware than the Vita, the 3DS had a large library and innovative use of dual-screen technology that captivated adults and children alike.
Whereas Sony’s most impressive Vita games feel like a downgraded version of a PlayStation 3 game, the 3DS has games that felt unique to the platform. The Vita did, however, benefit from a boom in indie titles published on the PlayStation Network, and plenty of players were willing to invest in a Vita to enjoy their favourite niche games on the go.
The Vita’s demise isn’t a shock – Sony said in September that it would wind down production of the Vita, which launched in December 2011. The company has no plans for a successor to the Vita either, according to Hiroyuki Oda, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s senior vice president. Sony’s PlayStation 4 is the most popular console of the current generation, with more than 91 million units sold worldwide.
Sony is ending a deal for Vita loyalists on the PlayStation Network this week. PlayStation Plus subscribers have for years been getting free games for the Vita, the PlayStation 3, and the PlayStation 4, but Sony will drop the former two from that program.
While Sony has made it clear that it doesn’t want to pursue another portable console, the success of the Nintendo Switch shows that there is still interest in a well-executed handheld. But unlike the Vita, the Switch is almost exclusively for playing games. It doesn’t have Netflix, or connect to Bluetooth headphones, or play MP3 files; it just plays games, which might be all a portable video game console really needs to do these days.
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