The enormous growth of the smartphone industry and its reach have made mobile gaming more popular than ever before. Even the Nintendo Switch has seen much success since its introduction in 2017, selling over 22 million units worldwide.
But before the dawn of the smartphone revolution, Sony’s PSP remained a huge success in the mobile gaming sector, selling over 80 million units worldwide and occupying the third slot in the list of best-selling portable consoles. But unlike its predecessor, the PS Vita failed to make any real impact on the mobile gaming sector. So, just how did a device with so much promise fail to make its mark on the growing mobile gaming industry?
Cash is King
Sony launched the Vita at $250, which at the time for its impressive spec sheet was quite a good value for money buy. Sony maxed out the internal storage space for the Vita at 1GB, which was certainly underwhelming. To make matters worse, the Vita only featured support for Sony’s external SD cards, which were priced at more than five times the cost of regular SD cards.
• Vita 32GB SD card at launch – $120
• Traditional 32GB SD card – $20 to $30
This meant if users needed to simultaneously install more than one or two games on their Vitas at a time, they would have to expand the memory of the device.
Lack of Titles
The Vita was meant to provide console-quality games on-the-go. But at launch, the Vita only debuted a handful of games with Uncharted as the only notable AAA title of the lot. This gave the impression that the system seemed rushed out before the developers were ready. Even titles that showed promised weren’t given the time needed to develop into great games.
Sony tried to set things right for the Vita by piggybacking off their highly-successful PlayStation 4 console. Rather than marketing the Vita as a great piece of hardware in its own right, Sony spent time and resources into promoting the Vita as the perfect companion device for the PS4. Remote Play allowed users to play PS4 titles on their Vita by syncing the devices over a Wi-Fi. In theory, Remote Play was great and worked surprisingly well on titles like Destiny and Fallout 4. However, Remote Play was marketed as more of a novelty feature with few consumers willing to pay a $250 premium just to play PS4 in another room.
Shifting FocusIn 2015, less than three years since its initial release, Sony announced that they would stop dedicating any resources to the game development or for anything else on the PS Vita. Rather than hold press conferences or interviews, Sony decided to keep all developments about the Vita under wraps, not to draw attention from the highly successful PS4. A move that essentially killed the Vita. Had Sony desired to put the same time and effort into the PS Vita as Nintendo did with the Switch, the world may have seen a revival of a mobile console which once held great promise.