The Fall of PS Vita: A Melancholy Retrospective

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BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 21: Boxes containing the new Sony PlayStation Vita portable gaming device lie stacked on a table at the Sony Store during the official German launch of the new Vita on February 21, 2012 in Berlin, Germany. Several hundred video gaming enthusiasts waited hours in line to be among the first to buy the new PS Vita. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Oh, dear PS Vita, we hardly knew ye. After a stellar American release in 2012, you never truly returned to form. It seems that a combination of factors doomed you to failure, a true shame. As your wheels continue to sputter, we must now give the autopsy and learn from our mistakes. Alright, let’s stop being so poetic. What really killed the PS Vita, Sony’s prodigal son that never returned? Let’s take a look.

The Fall of PS Vita: A Melancholy Retrospective

Unsustained Success

As stated before, the Vita had a pretty amazing launch for a handheld title. With 200,000 units sold within the first month in the United States, the Vita looked destined for success. But after a great launch month, sales just stalled. Both in Japan and in the West, sales followed the exact same pattern. Just two years after its 2011 Japanese launch, the Vita has sold only six million copies worldwide. But…why? What happened that triggered this tremendous fall from grace after only one month? Let’s dive in.

Launch Titles

When the PS Vita launched, 25 launch titles came with it. These launch titles included Uncharted: Golden Abyss, one of the best-selling titles for the Vita. While it did come with a few original releases, many of the Vita’s launch titles were merely ports of other games in the Playstation library. Now, this is a double-edged sword.

While it did help with launch sales to have old favorites on a handheld console, there is a much darker side to the PS Vita’s ports. On the negative side, what new “killer app” did the Vita have? That’s a trick question, as, for the most part, it didn’t. Although the Uncharted series spin-off sold relatively well, it was just that; a spin-off game. Nothing truly original with real IP weight ever came to the Vita. That’s really what helped to destroy the reputation of the Vita. After a while, people want a triple-A title for their handhelds. And at the end of the day, the Vita just didn’t provide that.

The Sony Backbone and Mobile Gaming

With the boom of mobile gaming with the release of the Vita, the iPhone was a big killer of the Vita. However, something else was lurking under the surface of the PS Vita’s failure: Sony itself. With the amount of money that Sony makes, one might think that the Vita would get great financial support. But this was simply just not the case. Truthfully, the Vita flopped in big part due to Sony. When the higher-ups at Sony decided to just ignore the Vita, it was basically dead in the water. Despite everything else, Sony can really only blame themselves.

Conclusion

There are so many factors that doomed the PS Vita that it’s hard to pinpoint just one. First off, it had almost no killer apps on the system. Even with Uncharted‘s wind at its back, the Vita just couldn’t succeed. And why is that? Well, it got no support at all from the company that created the system itself. It’s truly a shame. However, what’s done is done and Sony can only look back at its biggest gaming failure and try to learn from their mistakes. Perhaps they can bounce back like Nintendo did from the Wii U. In any case, it seems that Sony might pull the plug on the Vita soon enough, which might actually be best for the disappointing system.

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