It’s official: The Vita is a failed console.
As much as I hate to say it, it’s the truth. And it’s Sony’s fault.
Even worse: They don’t care. Once again, it’s the consumer/supporter who gets thrown under the bus for bothering to give the console a chance.
I bought my Vita around this time last year during what I considered downtime between big game releases. My first two games were Ragnarok Oddysssey and Dungeon Hunter Alliance, both of which I traded in for Persona 4 Golden (released at the end of 2012). I have no memories of what I did over the summer after I brought that game home (LOL!). What’s really sad/amazing is even though it’s almost two years old, Persona 4 Golden is still the best game on the Vita. Unless they absolutely hate RPGs or the Persona series in general, good luck finding someone who doesn’t like this game or the original PS2 version (most are familiar with the PS2 version actually).
Anyway, like the 3DS I bought my Vita for specific games. I got both games as they were released: Valhalla Knights 3 and Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends Complete Edition. I also got a few other games along the way for next to nothing: Gravity Rush, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation and The MGS HD Collection. I actually have about 15 Vita games total but those are some of the ones I wanna highlight.
Where the Vita went wrong…whew. It was doomed to fail from the start:
- The Wi-Fi Version of the Vita launched at $250 while the 3G version launched at $300, making them (both versions) the most expensive non-cellular and non-tablet portable device released in the last 20 years. I believe I mentioned this in another blog post but Nintendo slashed the price of the 3DS from $250 to $170 when the Vita’s price tags were announced in 2011. On top of that, they gave those of us who bought a 3DS prior to August 15, 2011 10 free NES games and 10 free GBA games. In the business world, that’s called being competative. Sony did nothing to make the price tag “worth it” in response to Nintendo’s power move.
- In what can easily be interpreted as a knee-jerk reaction to the PSP being the most hacked and modded console in gaming history, Vita Memory Cards are 1st party only and they are expensive even to those with deep pockets: $25 for a 4GB Card, $35 for an 8GB Memory Card, $50 for a 16GB Memory Card, $80 for a 32GB Memory Card and a whopping $120 for the online-only 64GB Memory Card. And Sony wondered why people weren’t buying ’em. Unlike the PSP, you actually did have a reason to have big storage on the Vita as the games are pretty big (around 2GB per game on average), some games also have DLC (Conception II comes to mind) and there are periodic firmware updates. Yet Sony refused to allow 3rd party companies to make memory cards for the Vita even though doing so would have drastically brought the price down.
- Lack of interest from high-profile 3rd party game makers (Square-Enix, Activision, Ubisoft, Namco Bandai, Konami, etc.) to even make bundles (The Metal Gear Solid HD Collection being a rare exception) even though the Vita’s technical specs are superior to the 3DS’s specs (as much as I hate to say it, this is indeed true). Even though the Vita is clearly more powerful, they’re all looking to make games for other systems. Why?
- Here’s why: Sony didn’t have an interest in making 1st party games on the Vita from the beginning. The recent announcement by Sony that they wouldn’t be making much of any 1st party games can be looked at as the final nail in the coffin. They made the same mistake with the Vita Nintendo made with the ‘Cube and the Wii only in both cases, Nintendo had alot of options in the areas of 1st and 2nd party franchises they knew gamers would like. Sony hasn’t exactly been trying in the last few years especially so…yeah.
- A few weeks ago, it was announced by retailers in Europe and Japan (Gamestop and Best Buy) that they weren’t getting new Vita shipments and didn’t know when, if ever they would. This despite Sony’s announcement earlier this year of a slimmer version of the Vita being released soon. What sounds more likely to have happened is Sony is trying to cut its loses and stopped making the existing model. Nintendo does the same thing with its handhelds after a new variant of the existing model is introduced (for example the DS Lite, DSi XL, 2DS, etc.) so this is nothing new. The difference is Nintendo carefully times the switchover so that sales aren’t hurt too much during that brief downtime.
- Almost no marketing of the console and its games by Sony. If the 3rd party company doesn’t advertise the game, you’d probably never even know it was coming out or in many cases, already released.
I usually cite sources but much of this is so well known to those who monitor news and updates Sony-related I didn’t see much of a point in bothering. To the 3DS “fanboys”, this should not be viewed as a “victory” for the 3DS. Competition motivates companies to make better games so…yeah. Not convinced? The Vita’s release pushed Nintendo to knock down the price of the 3DS, which drastically increased its sales.
All in all, it looks like Sony is going to take the coward’s way out and quietly kill off what was such a promising handheld just a year ago. That said, I’m holding out hope Sony has something special planned for the Vita and just doesn’t want to say yet but there’s a slim to none chance of that being true. There’d be a leak or announcement from someone by now if this were true.
If you have a Vita and like it, keep on playing it. If you have one and don’t want it anymore, sell it to someone you know or don’t expect to get much for it (FYI: Gamestop buys ’em for $85 from folks). If you don’t have one but want one, keep looking and hope you get lucky. When you find one, buy a 16GB Memory Card to go with it. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy a couple free or discounted Vita games ^_^
What’s most fascinating is this isn’t the usual “Gamers Ruined It For Themselves” situation (which actually is what it normally is). This is a legit “Game Maker Gives Loyal Consumers the Middle Finger” situation. Unlike the other one, this kind is the absolute worst. Just ask anyone who’s played anything made by Electronic Arts in the last 10 years. In a situation like this, the gamer suffers the most since they’re left hanging with a discontinued console they invested their time and money into knowing little to no games will be made for it anymore.
This is different from when one a console succeeds another (for example PS1 to PS2 and PS3 to PS4) because in that case, for a short time both consoles are supported during the transition from the existing console to the new one. Then the company slowly draws down support of the older console while increasing support on the new one. In the case of the Vita, game releases have been slow year-round and even noteworthy third party companies have started moving away from releasing games on the Vita unless it’s a multi-console release like Conception II (Vita and 3DS).
Man…it really is a shame. I’ll still buy my Physical Vita Games new, though. At the very least, it will show Sony the Vita is still worth the investment to many people.