The PS Vita was ahead of its time. But the major challenge with the Vita wasn’t its popularity, it was the lack of unique games and developer support. In 2020, the gaming landscape has changed dramatically, perhaps enough to say that the Vita may well survive the PS5 era.
The obvious comparison here is with the success of the Nintendo Switch. Since its launch, Nintendo has sold more than 70 million consoles worldwide. The Statistica report cites exclusives as one of the main reasons for this popularity, and it’s fair to say that the Switch has thrived due to the amount of quality titles available on the platform as well as its convenience. as a portable and high power device.
In the case of the Vita, excellent exclusives like Uncharted: Golden Abyss were an anomaly. Gravity Rush, Persona 4 Gold and Snatch come to mind as well, but all of these titles ended up on other platforms. While creating accessible games is important, so too is creating a reason for the existence of a console. The PS Vita offered a unique way to play, with touchscreen capabilities and a new rear touchpad for interacting with games. But many games released for the Vita never took advantage of this technology.
The launch lineup never really got bigger either. Golden abyss and Gravity Rush, arguably the best entries on Vita, were the launch titles. But the Vita was floundering in the mid-2010s due to a major lack of game support from Sony and other developers. Indie games have found a temporary place on the PS Vita over the console’s later years, with the Vita limping thanks to PC-Vita hybrid indie hits like Spelunky, Miami Hotline and others. So instead of any actual exclusivity, PS Vita owners continued to use the console as a stand-alone replacement machine.
But then the switch happened.
The Switch had an incredibly robust indie lineup, but these games were joined by a hearty lineup of exclusives. Nintendo has invested its soul in the Switch, producing fantastic AAA adventures for all of its major franchises, including the highly acclaimed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and other successes like Splatoon 2, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Yoshi’s Crafted World and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle.
These games were quickly joined by a who’s-who of independent publishers as support for the console increased.
Beyond Nintendo’s runaway success, the Switch has proven that there is still a major appetite for handheld consoles in the modern age. While the Switch is technically a hybrid and offers both handheld and docked modes, more and more Switch users are playing the console in handheld mode due to its ease of use.
When you look at how popular the Nintendo Switch has become over the past three years, especially with the general public, the downfall of the Vita is mind-blowing. After 2015, console support mostly disappeared from the map. New versions of games have slowed down to a trickle, and many users have started to abandon the console in favor of PC or console gaming.
But the Vita should were successful. As well as having its own “ docked mode, ” it resembles the Switch in every way. From design to functionality and even its line of indie games, the Vita is essentially a proto-Switch. The one who never really took off.
Yet all hope is not lost.
The continued growth of the Switch offers a unique opportunity for Sony to bring back the PS Vita, redesigned as a companion to the PS5. Technology has evolved at a breakneck pace since the launch of the original PS Vita. Beyond the advancements in video game quality and performance, we’ve also seen advancements in console hardware.
One of the reasons the PS Vita suffered is because it was unable to play better performing games. Features like remote play were also mostly unusable, as internet speeds and bandwidth requirements just weren’t there in the early 2010s. But now games like The Witcher III and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus work natively on Switch. While there are a few caveats regarding graphics quality, this could be an issue that the Switch Pro rumored already has addressed.
A handheld PC developed by Sony in the coming years could push the boundaries of what handheld consoles can achieve. It could also let you play your PS5 on your bed, on your couch or at the beach. Xbox has mostly beaten PlayStation when it comes to remote gaming, but that doesn’t mean the company shouldn’t have a horse in the race.
Beyond making a new Vita a PS5 companion, a new console could also serve a purpose the PS5 does not have: gaming emulation. Sony has been notoriously stubborn when it comes to enabling gaming. backward compatibility of its titles. Sure, remasters and ports mean that many of the best PlayStation games are already available on PS5, but there are still plenty of iconic titles left like the original. infamous series that have not yet taken the step towards a new generation.
There are countless PS3, PS2, PSOne and PSP games in limbo simply because backward compatibility has not been built into Sony’s ecosystem. But if there’s one flagship feature the Vita is known for, it’s the console’s ability to run older games. While the console’s library isn’t comprehensive, it does have a bunch of PSP and PSOne games that you can’t play on any other modern Sony console. PSOne support ended with the PS3, and the PS2 is the only console capable of playing games of this generation. In short: it’s a mess and Sony has the potential to fix it.
Of course, the argument is there that the PS5 should be backwards compatible in the first place, but a new console designed for this purpose is an easy victory.
A new PS Vita fixes a big hole in Sony’s existing appeal – but more importantly, it shouldn’t be an afterthought. The lessons of PS Vita must be learned. Support is essential, as is a continuing range of good to great games, whether it’s independent ports or AAA developments. While it doesn’t look like these plans are underway at Sony any time soon, they should be on the cards for the future.
There is a lot of potential in a PS5 Vita, but it’s essential that the console gets the love it deserves.