When Sony and its PlayStation line of consoles became one of the dominant platforms in the videogame market, helping to dethrone Nintendo, they initially made no inroads to portable gaming. This enabled Nintendo to keep its lead on that scene with their Gameboy and Gameboy Advance systems. This changed when Sony introduced the PlayStation Portable (PSP) in 2005, to directly compete with Nintendo’s current portable at the time, the DS. This rivalry carried on with both platforms’ successors, the Sony PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS. The Vita was released in 2011, but after close to a decade of manufacture, Sony has decided to end it.
The Verge reports that as of last week Friday, March 1, Sony has discontinued the making of the PlayStation Vita. Despite its impressive specs for a portable gaming device, the Vita was never as game-breaking and must-have as its predecessor the PSP. From independent analysts (as Sony has not publicized official sales statistics for the device), about 16.1 million units of the PS Vita were sold worldwide from 2011 to 2018. Compared to the 80.82 million units of the PSP, which itself had a manufacturing run of a full decade (2004-2014), the figures are disappointing.
Then again, the Vita did arrive at a time of a gaming paradigm shift. In the 2010s attention was beginning to shift from dedicated portable gaming platforms to mobile gaming, via online apps on smartphones and tablets. While all portable systems rolled out by the major videogame console makers were affected, Sony’s competitor had it worse. Despite attempts to promote new features in its 2014 revamp, including the ability to play PlayStation 4 titles via Remote Play, development for Vita games stagnated until only indie titles and ports from other consoles graced its game library.
Another death knell to the Vita’s prospects was the introduction of the Nintendo Switch console-portable hybrid system. Introduced only in 2017, it quickly racked up sales of 80.82 million units, underlining the lack of interest in the Vita by comparison. It is no wonder then that, along with Sony’s announcement that they are discontinuing the Vita’s manufacture, they have also dropped the bombshell that it would have no successor device, that the company’s portable gaming venture will stop there for the foreseeable future. In addition, the making of physical game titles for the Vita will conclude at the end of March beginning with Japan, in a whimpering coda to the life of only the third Sony portable, following the PSP and the short-lived Sony Ericsson collaboration the Xperia Play smartphone.
Image courtesy of ComicBook.com