I have long been a fan of the PlayStation Vita. So this quote from one of Sony’s head honchos about portable gaming seriously saddens me.
Here’s Shuhei Yoshida at a recent Q&A, as transcribed by Eurogamer, when asked if Sony will ever develop a Vita successor:
“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.”
This is nonsense. The climate is fine. Nintendo has sold over 50 million 3DSes and they don’t even have Minecraft. There’s no doubt that mobile gaming has had a huge impact on the traditional video game industry, but when it comes to the Vita flopping, Sony has nobody but themselves to blame.
Here is a partial list of reasons the Vita has failed:
- Sony decided to gouge customers by forcing them to use proprietary memory cards, then jacking up the prices to obscene levels. (A 32GB Vita memory card retails for £50; standard 32GB SDHC memory cards cost about a tenner.)
- Sony marketed the Vita as a portable system with “console-quality gaming,” then went on to pack it with shoddy spinoffs like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Call of Duty: Declassified, and Resistance: Burning Skies.
- Despite all this, a subset of hardcore gamers quickly realised that the Vita was a fantastic machine for indies and niche Japanese games. So what did Sony do? They decided to start marketing it as a portable accessory to the PS4—as if anyone would dish out extra to play Destiny on the toilet.
- Vita owners also realised that the machine is fantastic for playing old PS1 and PSP games. Sony saw how much money they could make there, and they immediately filled out the PlayStation Store, pleasing fans with truckloads of classic new games every week. Just kidding. They ignored it. Even today you need to use a silly shortcut just to get some old games working on your Vita.
- Remember the PS2? One of the most successful video game consoles in history? Chock full of great games that could be ported to the Vita in various ways? Someone should remind Sony of that.
- Remember BioShock Vita? lmao
- Sony has pretty much spent the past two years pretending the Vita doesn’t exist, ignoring it at every major trade show and convention. It’s embarrassing.
Remember when the 3DS launched back in 2011? Remember how hard it flopped? Instead of pulling back and blaming the “climate” for all of their woes, Nintendo doubled down, releasing new models and filling it up with stellar games to the point where it’s now one of the best machines you can buy. Granted, Sony doesn’t have Mario or Zelda or the storied development acumen of their competitors in Kyoto. But if they hadn’t spent the past three-and-a-half years firing a giant rifle at their own feet, maybe things would look a little different for the wonderful PlayStation Vita.