“...the platform that could.”
December 28, 2016 9:01 PM   Subscribe

PlayStation Vita: Is It Better to Burn Bright Than to Fade Away? [Playstation Lifestyle] “For PlayStation Vita, Sony hasn’t cut ties with its beloved handheld just yet. Third-party AAA support may be dwindling, but perhaps out of necessity the device has become more of a thriving hotspot for indie darlings, quirky Japanese titles and tactile platformers, and less a platform that boasts console gaming on the go. It’s been a funny old road for Sony’s handheld, though signs point to the PlayStation Vita motoring on for the foreseeable future, even if the Japanese platform holder’s attention, marketing and stage time will soon be occupied by PlayStation VR. The install base may have plateaued, but so long as the two-fold relationship between developers supporting the device and consumers picking up those ports — not matter how long they take to arrive — Vita will continue to exist as “the platform that could.” Let’s just hope we’ll be saying the same when its 5th birthday rolls around.”

The State Of The 3DS And Vita In 2016 [Kotaku]
“Meanwhile, Sony continues to pretend that the Vita doesn’t exist, mentioning it most frequently as a footnote to other, more important announcements. Oh yes, this game is also coming to Vita. Sometimes even Sony’s own marketing ignores the Vita, portraying a game like Full Throttle, coming next year to both Vita and PS4, as a PS4 exclusive. Still, if you’re into indies and Japanese games like Dragon Quest Builders or Steins;Gate 0, the Vita is humming along this year. I haven’t played nearly enough Trails of Cold Steel II or World of Final Fantasy yet, but it’s nice to know they’re both there. And there’s plenty more on the horizon, like Danganronpa v3 and Cosmic Star Heroine. It helps that the spunky little handheld is still selling fairly well in Japan. Sony’s baffling decisions and long-festering neglect haven’t killed the Vita—just crippled it a little.”
Here’s Why The PS Vita Is One Of My Favourite Consoles Of All-Time [We Got This Covered]
“To say that Sony’s latest handheld has had a rough time on the market is a colossal understatement. Out of the gate, the Japanese giant was dedicated to it, throwing first-party development resources at the machine with fervent glee (more on this later). However, over time Sony rapidly realized that its miniature console just wasn’t hitting the sales numbers to warrant investment from their valuable internal development teams, particularly in regards to triple-A support. Sadly, roughly three years into the console’s life-cycle, Sony pretty much washed their hands of the device and sent their poor, little orphan console out into the wilderness to fend for itself with a smattering of Sony-funded ports and a swathe of much-appreciated third-party and indie support keeping the handheld alive. It’s a somewhat different story in Sony’s Japanese homeland, as the PS Vita, and handhelds in general, are still hitting healthy sales numbers. As a consequence, many of the titles you see on the PS Vita’s upcoming release docket are often Japanese developed games that have been localized and introduced to a western audience. If you like Japanese titles, Sony’s handheld is a veritable gold-mine.”
In Loving Memory of the PlayStation Vita [Games Radar+]
“After the launch of PlayStation 4 in 2014, their attention shifted to the new console and Vita development was largely left to third-party developers. This could have been the end, but it’s around this time that the Vita finally found its place in the world and matured into something much more interesting than the handheld Uncharted machine it was originally marketed as. In recent years it’s become a wonderful platform for indie games, Japanese RPGs, visual novels, and other unique, offbeat titles. And it’s one of the best ways to dig through Sony’s library of old PSP and PSone games. This is what makes it a great handheld—not the fact that you can play a clumsy, scaled-down version of Call of Duty on it. The variety and versatility of the games is why my Vita isn’t lying forgotten in a drawer, covered in dust. There’s something for every occasion, whether you’ve got a few hours to kill waiting for a connecting flight or ten spare minutes on a bus. With a Vita and the right games you’ll never be bored again, and sometimes I actually find myself looking forward to a long journey because I know I’ll get to spend some quality time with it.”
Your PS Vita May Be Gathering Dust, But It's No Console Failure [TechRadar]
“Nintendo's 3DS remains the frontrunner - hell, it's outselling everything - but to the Japanese market the PS Vita and 3DS are very different machines, offering two very different experiences. There's very little divide between the two in terms of their audiences (unlike the ever pointless fanaticism we see between PlayStation and Xbox over here) and there's every chance PS Vita will continue to grow and bloom on Eastern shores. The PS Vita then isn't a failure - it's a Western failure. It's inability to seed in North America and Europe led Sony to announce its decision to stop making first-party titles for the handheld, but none of that will affect its future in Japan where most of its most successful titles are developed by third party studios. Could we see a sequel to PS Vita then, its sales being so strong overseas? Well, considering Sony has described the climate as being, "not healthy," for its successor the prognosis suggests it's unlikely, but that comment was made specifically regarding the future of Sony handhelds in the West. If Vita does ever breed, don't be surprised if it forms into a purely Japan-focused machine.”
PS Vita Jailbreak Finally Lets You Run Emulators and Homebrew Software [Ars Technica]
“If you see someone still playing on a PSP, chances are it's because it's been hacked to hell. Sony's trusty handheld might not have been the sales sensation the company had hoped for, but—despite the company's best efforts—the PSP became the handheld to own if you were into homebrew software or retro gaming. This was due to the ease with which it was hacked, the quality of the hardware, and a steady stream of unofficial software and emulators. There was hope that the follow-up to the PSP, the PlayStation Vita, would be similarly hacked, with the improved hardware and additional analogue stick allowing for the emulation of more sophisticated consoles. Unfortunately, the Vita has been a much tougher nut to crack. Despite some early efforts, the best anyone had come up with was an exploit that only worked on an older version of the Vita firmware, and that required it to be tethered to a PC—hardly ideal for a portable console. Finally, though, some clever folks at the hacking collective Team Molecule have come up with a solution that fully unlocks the Vita hardware for homebrew developers. Dubbed HENkaku, the jailbreak exploit not only works on the latest 3.60 Vita firmware, but also requires very little user intervention to execute. All you have to do is head over to the official HENkaku website on the Vita, tap on the install button, and then sit back and let the hack work its magic. The one drawback is that the jailbreak isn't permanent, so if the Vita is fully powered off it needs to be reinstalled.”
10 Reasons Why The PlayStation Vita Failed [Goliath]
10. Shift in Mobile Gaming Market
9. High Cost of Hardware
8. Expensive Memory Cards
7. The PS4 Remote Play Gambit
6. Half-Baked Support For Old Games
5. No PS2 Games Support
4. Few Killer Apps
3. Crappy AAA Games
2. Didn’t Follow The Nintendo 3DS’s Example
1. Sony Chose To Ignore It
posted by Fizz (34 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I love my PC but I'll always be a handheld gamer at heart. As a JRPG addict, this is where I feel most at home. I'm glad that it's still chugging along. And we still have Persona 5 to look forward to. Is it Valentine's Day 2017 yet!?!
posted by Fizz at 9:07 PM on December 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've really happily rediscovered the PSP as a dream emulation console. I've got most every NES, SNES, Genesis, GB/GBA, etc. game loaded in, and a few of my favorite PSX RPGs including Xenogears and FF9. I've got a cable that hooks the PSP up to my TV, so (long before the Switch) this can basically be a TV console system or an on-the-go portable at will, and it blows the NES Classic out of the water.

Was interested in the paragraph on Vita running emulators, but --
The one drawback is that the jailbreak isn't permanent, so if the Vita is fully powered off it needs to be reinstalled.”

That seems like a pretty big drawback...
posted by naju at 9:34 PM on December 28, 2016 [4 favorites]

I love my dead handheld. If something's available for 3DS and Vita, I pretty much always choose the Vita version since it's so much more comfortable to hold than the 3DS. Just finished playing Steins;Gate 0 on it (and why would I pay $10 more to play it on PS4 when I can pay less and play it on the bus?) (Also: so good and cathartic given Recent Events to try to prevent World War Three while you're stuck on the darkest timeline, definitely recommend for anyone who liked Steins;Gate.)

There's a steady stream of new stuff to play on it, and having a PS Plus subscription for the last few years gives me a stupidly large backlog of games. Though it's always a downer when they give us something I've already paid for. (But hey, more people playing visual novels is good, right?)

The main thing I'd really call a failure with the Vita is the ridiculous expensive proprietary memory cards. I forget how many different annoying proprietary memory formats Sony's tried over the years, but you'd think they wouldn't need to relearn the lesson that many times.

And we still have Persona 5 to look forward to. Is it Valentine's Day 2017 yet!?!

I am so, so sorry. This basically ruined Valentine's Day for me forever. Also no Vita release so I'm probably going to lose my job because I can't leave home and still play.
posted by asperity at 10:14 PM on December 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

I got my Vita at launch and it's been my favorite handheld ever since. The lack of support from Sony and ridiculous memory card prices have been so frustrating, though. Sales for the 3DS were crap too at first but Nintendo cut the price and kept believing and made it a monster hit anyway. Sony could have done it too but just didn't.

I didn't care about a thousand indie games I'd already passed up on PC or remote play from my PS4 that's two rooms away, I wanted PS2 support (with the OLED screen and two thumbsticks they would have played beautifully) and memory cards that weren't half the price of the damn device. The graphics and controls are so great and there are so many great JRPGs for the system, though, that it was still well worth the money.

Oh well, back to Trails of Cold Steel II.
posted by Blue Meanie at 10:18 PM on December 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

I didn't care about a thousand indie games I'd already passed up on PC

Some of those are so much better on Vita, though. It is definitely the best way to play Don't Starve.
posted by asperity at 10:25 PM on December 28, 2016

My Vita and Wii U are plugged in right now and my PS4 isn't, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by danb at 10:36 PM on December 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

The memory card prices are much better in Japan. On amazon JP a 32GB is showing at around 5,000 yen, which is £35 or $43 USD. In the UK, that same card would be £132. Cheaper ones are available in-store in Japan.

I love my vita too, especially with the ability to play Japanese titles like Trails of Cold Steel I and II. I love that it's getting attention and that there are people on metafilter playing! (If you are interested, please do not look at the plot on wikipedia.)
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 2:14 AM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've been keeping one eye on the prices of Vitas whenever I walk by the CeX (second-hand electronics) shop, thinking of possibly picking one up at some point. Perhaps with the proliferation of indie titles and the possibility of homebrew, I'll do that.
posted by acb at 2:56 AM on December 29, 2016

Sony has a history of letting their consoles linger on for a long tail. When I was a game producer, there was a point where I was managing projects for PS1, PS2, and PS3 simultaneously.
posted by ga$money at 4:43 AM on December 29, 2016

I LOVE my Vita. I dearly wish Sony would invest a little more effort into the handheld market. I also love my 3ds. I play the 3ds a lot more because of franchises that I'm deeply ingrained in there (Pokemon, Zelda, Metroid, Animal Crossing), but hands down 100% the better technical system is the Vita. The integration between ps3/4 and vita markets is better, the layout/feel is more comfortable, the GUI, the memory slot expansion, the back catalog, all of it. It is such a shame that Nintendo has such a huge chunk of the handheld market that Sony doesn't even try to compete. I whole heatedly believe that if Sony gave it a shot they could easily be truly competitive in that arena.
posted by Twain Device at 4:46 AM on December 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

I haven't picked up my Vita in months. For a while I subscribed to PSN, and had the biggest and most expensive memory card, and regularly got in some time with NFS Most Wanted or Wipeout 2048 or OlliOlli or Sine Mora...

A credit card expiration date update late in 2014 caused Sony to freak out and cancel my account, and I didn't feel like signing back up for it again. I bought a couple of the games in cartridge form so I could keep playing, but then kind of drifted away from it.
posted by Foosnark at 5:13 AM on December 29, 2016

10 Reasons Why The PlayStation Vita Failed

#11 AT&T exclusive in a world full of shared data.

If they had a Verizon version I probably would have bought it. But they didn't. So I looked at the memory card situation, the games on offer and didn't think it was worth it.
posted by Talez at 5:27 AM on December 29, 2016

I got my PSP in a trade at the place I worked; we needed a faster computer, and I happened to have one that was more or less working, and instead of money, I picked a late model (3xxx) that was lying around because the UMD reader was wonky. Since I already was planning to use it for PSOne ISOs and emulators, it's not like I cared.
It was a great platform, but... the UMD media was all-around poor (fragile, noisy, too many moving parts) for a mobile console, was a bit too over-dependent on big title ports, but most importantly, it promised all sorts of cross-platform connectivity that never amounted to nothing other than stuff like unlocking a car on Outrun 2006 C2C that was only available if you bought it on the other platform.

Sony didn't have a clue on what they had. Unfortunately, it seems they did the same mistakes with the Vita.
posted by lmfsilva at 6:19 AM on December 29, 2016

SONY never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:26 AM on December 29, 2016 [9 favorites]

My wife finally gave in a few years ago and let my son have a Wii. When the new consoles came out she did NOT want two systems connected to the television (because that would be crazy), so the WiiU's ability to play the older games sealed that decision. Then they stopped making sports games for the Nintendo systems - and that was about 85% of the games my son plays. And then I lost my job, so a replacement was not in the cards.

Last year, we had the brilliant idea of scraping together enough to buy him a Vita. They're not going to stop making sports games for the Playstation, and Sony owns the MLB The Show franchise so that's a given. There's football, soccer, hockey, basketball... should be good for a few years, and if things work out we can get a PS4 and it'll connect to it, right?

Then Sony stopped making The Show for the Vita, and EA stopped making football and soccer, too. They never did make a basketball or hockey game, so he's got three old copies of MLB, an old Madden, and a FIFA game. He doesn't like driving games, can't stand FPS, and doesn't care for platform games. Just finding options to consider is difficult, since they're just not stocked here anymore. To say our luck with consoles is bad would be understating things.

But... he loves playing it, still. It's almost exclusively with the last edition of The Show, but still... it's always charged because it's a rare day that goes by without him picking it up and playing. It's too bad they didn't put a little more faith into it, because there's something good there.

SONY never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Having worked at The SONY Store retail outlet twenty years ago, I can't agree more. They're the George Lucas of electronics - phenomenal successes (Trinitron, Walkman, Playstation) interspersed with colossal blunders (Beta, MiniDisc, MemoryStick) that show they have tremendous ideas but no clue which ones will appeal to the market.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 6:41 AM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


This one still hurts. It could have been the floppy disk for the late '90s.

Then they let their music business dictate the shots.
posted by Talez at 6:43 AM on December 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Remember the PSP Go? Remember the Playstation Phone? Remember Playstation Mobile?

Sony has spent a lot of money failing at every sector of mobile gaming you can imagine.


This one still hurts. It could have been the floppy disk for the late '90s.

I still have my Minidisc player somewhere. Those things were peak cyberpunk and there's still not much more satisfying than slotting one in and closing it.

I realize it's a aesthetic loss only, but man we have really fallen away from making tactile technology.
posted by selfnoise at 7:07 AM on December 29, 2016 [5 favorites]

The biggest problem I see with Sony is that they try to proprietize their commodity stuff.

You'd think Betamax would be a lesson but they decided that MagicGate and SonicStage would lock people into their CD music business (spoiler alert: it didn't) and then decided to repeat the facacta on the Vita. Elcaset, DAT, SACD, MicroMV, Ruvi. The list of bullshit that Sony decided to keep proprietary when it was first to market and should have been given out to everyone out there to become the standard is astounding.
posted by Talez at 7:30 AM on December 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

I can only assume Sony thinks it's selling razor blades. I really want to replace my pair of 16 GB cards with a 64 GB so I never need to swap cards or uninstall any games ever and have more reason to tote the Vita around with me everywhere I go. I wish Near had actually been useful or interesting -- the 3DS goes with me nearly everywhere just because of the step counter and StreetPass, even if I'm not actively playing something. There's no similar reason for me to carry the Vita to Home Depot. (My Home Depot inexplicably has a Nintendo Zone hooked up somewhere.)

I do love the rare occasions I see someone else with a Vita in the wild. Instant friendship across all demographic groups.

They never did make a basketball or hockey game, so he's got three old copies of MLB, an old Madden, and a FIFA game.

Until I saw the Vita handball game, I had no idea that was even a professional sport. But apparently it exists, has a 2016 Vita game, and maybe there'll even be a 2017 edition. Also I think there's at least one rugby game available... (More seriously, best present for a Vita owner is to look for a discounted annual PS Plus subscription; it's overpriced at $60, but it's at least one new game a month that may not suck.)
posted by asperity at 8:30 AM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

All my experiences with the internal workings of Sony suggest much more Game of Thrones internecine warfare than Harvard Business School corporate management. Incomprehensible decisions about abandoned or crippled lines of development or promotion so often come down to some group getting the upper hand over a technology or timeline and then using it to hurt another internal group instead of concentrating on growing the market - and forget about enlightened licensing of tech to other companies. Minidisc is the example I know best, where the battlefront between digital and music really got rancid (imagine a Vaio with an MD drive - the MD people specifically forbade it), but no - the only place you could use the 'data' MDs was in multitrack portable mixing desks.

And it's been that way for so long. You'd have thought that the combined lessons of the success of the CD format and the failure of Betamax would have been lessons enough.

Sony is George Lucas in consumer tech form. QFT.
posted by Devonian at 9:33 AM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Does this mean there's hope for my Atari Lynx?
posted by Naberius at 9:35 AM on December 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

I loved my PSP and PS3, but I regret buying a Vita at launch. Great piece of hardware, but the games just weren't there. Sony supported the PSP for around 5 years, Vita got 18 months, tops.

Almost sold it this summer but now I keep it around to run SNES games and Vita "backups" using Henkaku. It is also possible to run PSP ISOs as well.

3DS absolutely crushes the Vita.
posted by porn in the woods at 9:38 AM on December 29, 2016

Does this mean there's hope for my Atari Lynx?

Atari Lynx SD card.
posted by Talez at 9:50 AM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is what I don't get right. PS4 games mostly install themselves completely to the drive. The disc is only there to authenticate it.

Why the hell hasn't Sony given us a USB disc jukebox peripheral for the PS4?
posted by Talez at 9:58 AM on December 29, 2016

I was planning on getting a PlayStation VR, but reevaluated when it was pointed out how bad Sony is at giving support for its hardware. If things don't go perfectly for a system they rarely make any effort to improve things, they just continue to pump it out and maybe, hopefully, their successor system improves things. When the PSVR release demonstrated the limitations of building VR out of the old PlayStation Move system I knew chances are it won't ever be as good as the Vive or Oculus, and eventually developers will get tired of it and leave, just like they did with the Vita.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 10:19 AM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

3DS absolutely crushes the Vita.

Eh, I spend about the same time with each. I just wish Nintendo had released enough of the $99 non-huge non-fugly New 3DSes last month to meet demand; I really wanted to upgrade/downsize my old 3DS XL. The interface is annoyingly slow and the device is so top-heavy it's uncomfortable to hold, but since it works I'm not paying $150+ for a not-strictly-necessary upgrade.
posted by asperity at 10:40 AM on December 29, 2016

The way Sony handled the vita still kinda pisses me off, with the ridiculous memory card prices and completely ignoring it in recent shows. It's as if they're embarrassed by a wayward child. It's such a nice piece of hardware, and early on there seemed to be so much enthusiasm, especially from owners and a handful of people within Sony itself.
posted by lucidium at 11:40 AM on December 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you're on the fence, I think it depends on what type of gaming you're wanting. There is a ton of indie game support on the Vita. Lots of games to enjoy. Especially if you're into JRPGs. And the prices aren't too bad. I was paying into PS+ for a bit (some really cool games pop up with that monthly service) but I let that lapse. Still, I have plenty of games on this handheld to keep me busy.
posted by Fizz at 2:57 PM on December 29, 2016

Welp, for anyone still interested in playing Vita games there's still the PS TV which you need a PS3/4 controller and a monitor but works for most games. Unfortunately, you'd still need a spare memory card but I did see a bundle for $50-60. The downside is memory cards have increased 20% in price in the last few months and you need to be a fan of anime/JRPGs to have a complete Vita exp.

Actually not sure if I can recommend the system unless you're a dedicated fan of VNs or niche indie titles since I rarely find people who own them in better times. As for space-wise you want to start at 8GB and consider 64GB only if you never plan on buying physical games (good thing certain titles are never released physically overseas).

Also, it's a neat emulator.
posted by chrono_rabbit at 3:26 PM on December 29, 2016

/just dropping by to show my love for my favourite handheld machine. I literally bought the thing for Persona 4 and AC liberation; and with all the Atelier games and VNs I never feel like I'm running out of things to play.

and now mefi you just informed me that i can wait for persona 5 for 2017 thank you and UGH i did not have time for that. I will make time for that.
posted by Sallysings at 7:01 PM on December 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


This one still hurts. It could have been the floppy disk for the late '90s.

I still have my Minidisc player somewhere.

You know what? I've taken to using a minidisc player again. Enthusiastically. I'm blown away by the sound quality. We've really settled for the lowest common denominator by listening to everything through our phones, technology that treats sound as an afterthought at best. We forgot what a really thoughtful, dedicated, high quality music player was like. The minidisc was it. Sony bet the farm on producing the highest quality unit, expecting this to be a generation's new Walkman replacement. The DAC was absolutely top of the line.

The lack of streaming or easy way to absent-mindedly throw your MP3s onto it means you have to start making mixes again, old school style. In 2016 this turns out to be a feature, not a bug.
posted by naju at 1:59 AM on December 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Very disappointed that it won't continue - I love my vitaTV and used it as a cheap 'modern' console since I didn't want to buy a whole new $500+ setup at home (sigh....being an adult*).

Only problem with it was the developers who did NOT enable support for it on the games they have listed in the sony store (I'm looking at you Konami - all your castlevania games). Most of them already are confirmed to run and just need them to flick a switch :(
posted by edZio at 8:10 AM on December 30, 2016

Be sure to ask those developers -- several have been responsive to flipping that PS TV switch on their games; they just needed the reminder.
posted by asperity at 10:08 AM on December 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Speaking of which, wasn't that mystery port on the vita a tv out that also got unceremoniously abandoned for no apparent reason?
posted by lucidium at 4:59 PM on December 30, 2016

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