This week it was widely reported that Sony had officially stopped production for the PS Vita console. While the writing has been on the wall for the longest time for the neglected console, the news still left me a little more shocked than I expected given the warm history the console and I shared. With that said, allow me to write an appropriate eulogy for the handheld.
We Are Gathered Here Today…
The Vita remains the only console I’ve every purchased on launch day — netting me a special hard case and a free copy of one of the forgettable garbage launch titles that exist on many consoles that serve as little more than a tech demo. You know, like Wii Sports, except boring.
This was an important purchase for me, since at the time I worked as an overnight fraud detection analyst for a bank. When I’d take my lunch at 9pm, the cafeteria was deserted and I had no real good way to kill the time, with the exception of the TV that seemed to always be showing Big Brother. Suddenly with the arrival of my Vita, I had a new Uncharted game to play during lunch and breaks.
I fell in love with MLB The Show, and created my own unique player that got drafted by my favorite club, the Minnesota Twins. Which lasted a few seasons until they traded me to the Red Sox and I only could respond by winning several Cy Young’s and leading the Sox to multiple World Series titles.
I got really excited when PSP titles became available in the store. I picked up Persona 3 and various Final Fantasy games.
Best of all, I could use the Vita to connect to my iPhone’s hotspot at work and log into my PS3 console running Gran Turismo 5’s B-Spec racing mode — allowing me to hire drivers to race for me. All I had to do was periodically log back in, collect the rewards, and get them racing again. Of course, I’d have to ask my wife every so often to reboot the PS3, but totally worth it.
Trouble in Paradise
But slowly, we’d drift apart. Eventually I got a normal 9-5 job and was surrounded by people who always wanted to talk or go out during lunch. Around the same time, I found myself less and less drawn to game on my Vita and more interested in what was happening on consoles. I’d rush home to to play Borderlands 2 or Mass Effect — amazing games for which there really was no handheld equal. But I’d find myself still busting out my Vita when I’m in bed to maybe play a few more innings of MLB The Show.
And then it felt like the content stopped. Fewer portable games were making the leap to the Vita — instead opting for the Nintendo handhelds. The 3DS was a revelation—all I needed to increase the storage was simple Micro SD card. I never understood Sony’s obsession with making proprietary memory cards for their devices which were prohibitively expensive and uncommon.
What Does the Future Hold?
With Nintendo’s surge in handheld popularity and eventual release of the dual-threat Switch which continues to innovate, Sony did nothing to bolster its own handheld — leaving it conspicuously absent from announcements, expos, you name it. In short, Sony saw the competition coming and did nothing to try and promote or improve their own product — they just ceded it to Nintendo and the rise of smartphone gaming.
Do I miss the golden age of the Vita? Absolutely. And even though Sony has stopped production and we can expect the console to be missing from whatever remaining shelves it still occupies, this isn’t the end of the console. A large jail-breaking and homebrew has embraced the Vita as a highly accessible and powerful console to run homebrew applications, emulators, and even solutions allowing jailbreakers to utilize Micro SD cards for cheap memory expansions instead of the exorbitantly priced PS Vita memory cards on the secondary market.
The PS Vita definitely deserved better. But even so, I’m going to keep mine. It’s a great console, and I still have to beat Persona 4. What about you? What are you going to miss or do with your Vita?