The State Of The Vita In 2015

The State Of The Vita In 2015

On 15 February 2012, Sony of America launched the PlayStation Vita, a powerhouse portable that they promised would deliver "console-quality gaming" to commutes everywhere. Nearly four years later, it's safe to say they failed. But the Vita is a great machine — even without Sony's help. This is part of our 2015 "State of" series, a look at how the five major consoles (and PC) are doing this year.

In 2015, the Vita appears to be in a terrible place. Sales have been atrocious, marketing is non-existent, and Sony has all but admitted that they have stopped supporting the system. Just look at the Vita's conspicuous absence from any Sony press conferences. Whether it's due to the rise of mobile gaming or Sony's other major Vita screw-ups — like those exorbitantly priced memory cards — the Vita just hasn't been able to reach a substantial audience. By any account it's a commercial failure and has been since it launched.

Yet not all is doom and gloom for the PSP's successor. If you look past the dismal sales, you'll find a rather fine game machine that's become the system of choice for fans of Japanese games, especially RPGs. It's also chock full of indie gems, solid ports, and old-school classics. Anyone hunting for the big-budget shooters and open-world adventures that Sony originally promised will want to look elsewhere, but if you like more interesting, niche games, the Vita might be a perfect fit.

For example, there's the Danganronpa series, a set of excellent visual novels that cross Phoenix Wright with Battle Royale to delightful results. There's Gravity Rush, a unique action-adventure game where you manipulate gravity to explore a big floating city. Mysteries like Steins;Gate and Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward have kept me up until 3am on more than a few occasions, and the Vita's also got great ports of indie games like Hotline Miami and Spelunky. Larger games like Grim Fandango and Final Fantasy X are also nice fits on Sony's handheld.

The State Of The Vita In 2015

One of the Vita's biggest assets is something that Sony barely supports: PlayStation Classics. Although the library isn't all that thorough, the PlayStation Network does sell a number of great PS1 and PSP games that you can play or replay on Vita. The system is perfect for these old games, especially if you do some minor button remapping. Sony could've done much more to improve the emulation — a "fast forward" button sure would be nice — but it's hard to argue with Suikoden II on the go. One PSP role-playing game, Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, is my favourite JRPG of the decade so far and playable on Vita via PS Classics.

If you're anything like me, you may find yourself dropping a couple hundred bucks on games you already own on older systems, just so you can play them again on the subway or before bed:

The State Of The Vita In 2015

And I haven't even mentioned Personas 3 and 4, both of which play best on the Vita and will suck up some 200 hours of your free time.

Point is, there are a lot of good games here. If you're a PlayStation 4 owner, you can also use a relatively new feature called Remote Play to mirror your PS4 games on the Vita. The lag and imprecise controls can make it difficult to play, say, competitive Battlefront, but if you want to do some RPG grinding while watching TV, this is a nice little bonus.

The Vita comes in two different models. There's the original PCH-1000, which still holds up perfectly today, and the newer PCH-2000, which gains some battery life by ditching the OLED screen for a cheaper LCD version. Both models feel very good, although the back touchscreen can be something of a nuisance. The front screen is fragile — my first Vita shattered just from bumping around in my bag — so getting a case is a must. Also a must: getting enough storage space for your games, which is a pain in the arse thanks to Sony's unfortunate decision to force Vita owners to buy and use their proprietary memory cards. You basically need a memory card to do anything worthwhile on the Vita, so getting one of these machines means sucking it up and dropping a hilarious amount of money on a comparatively tiny SD card.

The State Of The Vita In 2015

Proprietary goofery aside, the Vita remains a great gaming machine. It may have never lived up to promises of console gaming on the go. To Sony, it may be a "legacy platform," as CEO Andrew House called it earlier this year. But somehow, Vita has turned into a must-have for RPG fans. Even if you're not into role-playing games, the system's got a lot to offer, which is why it's such a shame that Sony's mishandled it so badly. As we head into 2016, it's clear that Sony has no plans to support Vita beyond the bare minimum. The Vita has plateaued, and our notion of the console is unlikely to change in 2016, or perhaps ever again. Yet it remains a solid piece of gaming hardware, and that's not going to change, either.


Comments

    The only time there's news about the Vita is to show how poorly it's doing. That's the state of Vita.

    I have bought more games on this system than I will ever actually finish.

    I used to think people buying too many Steam games were silly. Then I set my Vita to a US account & fell down the 99c sale rabbit hole.

    It helps that my craptop is too lame to run even the most basic games properly & I'm a huge JRPG fan.
    Not to mention I'm quite happy replaying old PSX & PSP games & discovering quite a few I missed.

    Also, being a dad, Remote Play is a must. There's no way I'd be over 40hrs in Fallout 4 atm if I wasn't able to play in the other room while my Mrs watches Better Homes & Gardens.

    I just wish they'd port more old PC games over. I only just finally finished Duke Nukem 3D after all these years.

      Remote Play is sensational, keeps those little explosions of red away from my two-year old's eyes - that being said, I think MS will win the next generation with streaming to PC. There is far more flexibility for people in the BYOD model for streaming than having Sony's locked-down ecosystem.

      Of course, the master-races will trip us both up on that point. They get the streaming and the old PC games.

        I would have loved to see a different form-factor for Vita. Just for remote play.

        Something that looks like a DS4, but with a nice big touch screen where the touch-pad is.

        Real Triggers and real full blown analogue sticks would have gone a long way than being able to fit in to tight jeans.

        Also add Rumble remove Back-touch!

        The PS4 would get completely untethered from the TV, the current version of the PS Vita maybe the best that exists, but it failed to commit to what it ought to have been.

        (I don't consider the Xperia + DS4 option as a realistic proposition)

        So I guess Sony isn't so locked down after all. They just announced Remote-Play on Mac/PC.

        Last edited 29/11/15 1:38 pm

      How did you get switched to the US store front?
      When I tried, it wouldn't accept my CC because it wasn't an American VISA. Guessing somewhere in the numbers it identifies country...

        I buy PSN bux from Amazon. Accepts Aussie credit, just needs a US Billing Address, which I made up.

        Otherwise you can buy US PSN bux from various websites

    "RPG grinding while watching TV". This is my problem with things like the vita, I do not, in any way, shape, or form, want to doing anything other than watching TV, when I choose to watch TV. It's just, not a selling point. I guess I barely play my 3d's enough to justify another portable gaming device.

      That's a fair point. I think you either play portable devices or you don't. If you do, you are really spoiled for choice. If you like Nintendo games then 3DS is fantastic, if you like simpler mobile games then Apple and Android have you covered. If you love JRPGs and indies then the Vita is your weapon of choice. I have all three mobile solutions and Vita is by far the most used. Between it and the 3DS I barely use my mobile phone for gaming.

        PArt of me really wanted to get a Vita, especially seeing as people keep saying how it's a good scene for JRPG's, but aside from people saying that, I don't actually know what these JRPG's are.

          This may help! http://www.metacritic.com/browse/games/genre/metascore/role-playing/vita?view=condensed
          This list doesn't account for PSP or other games playable on the Vita.
          Persona 4 Golden is my personal favourite, but there are some good ones: http://www.nerdmuch.com/games/2027/top-best-jrpgs-for-ps-vita-games-to-play-playstation/

      It is more when your partner/kids want to watch TV, you can keep gaming on the PS4 via the Vita.

        Yeah, that's a good point.

        I was tempted as I have to occassionally baby sit my dog when everyone else is out on some days. Streaming my PS4 downstairs would be pretty neat, and not have to lug the thing downstairs.

      It's also good when someone else wants to watch TV and you want to keep playing.

    Yeah I love that I can get to play such unforgettable "classics" such as Toy Story or Ten Pin Alley on the AUS PlayStation Store.
    Yes I know I can get around the region thing, but it’s the principal dammit.

    I think I was the only person to like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. It's the Vita version of Dark Souls!

      I think its more like a Vita Diablo with dungeons as 'levels'

    Haven't used my vita in a VERY long time. Trying to sell it but no takers except low ball offers for games on their own.

      I really treasure mine, got a 2nd system but the circle button is half depressed compared to the others. I hope it doesnt break. It feels good playing games on the vita. They also have my favourite game of all time the trails series from Falcom. other then that the fighting games looks good. everything else are uninteresting.

      it yours a 1000 or 2000? you played it much? it always go above $150.00 on ebay. I paid $190.00 for a used 1000 Aug last year. how much you asking for it?

      If it is cheap, I'd grab it for the PS4 remote play.

    I honestly think the Vita is the best piece of mobile hardware I've ever owned. Clocked up hundreds of hours on it. Huge backlog too. But it just happens to have a huge cluster of the sort of games I enjoy playing, so I guess I've ended up being a lot of the target audience.

    For all the doom and gloom about the sales of the hardware, seems like if you talk to the publishers releasing games for it like NISA or XSEED or Tecmo Koei it's a very strong revenue-maker for them. The install base isn't huge but we buy lots of games. I personally must be above 60 games for the system by now - if I wasn't all-digital the library would be approaching the size of my PS2 collection.

    I picked up a blue vita in tokyo last week it is my 2nd vita

    Vita bro! I've bought 3 Vitas and have over 130 games for them including PSP and classics. My kids love Vita Pets and Tokyo Jungle Mobile. I still need to pick up the Neptunia Rebirth series and the Atelier games. So much choice!

    http://darkadia.com/member/Zambayoshi/library#!/shelf/platform-22,116,143,18,129

    Last edited 24/11/15 9:36 am

    I use mine every day on my train commute to Sydney CBD. I have played 80+ games on mine and own 125 due to PS+. But I must admit due to my lack of love for JRPGs I am now running out of stuff to playing. Looking forward to the new Drink Box game Severed and Darkest Dungeon when they finally hit. Will play Teslagrad this month as it is cross-buy and I have the PS+ PS4 version from last month.

    Basically it keeps me ticking over.

    Love my Vita. I paid a lot for it on launch day. Kept me going on the long commute to work for a few years. The memory cards are pricey and that was a crazy decision to make them so expensive from the get go.

    My favourites must be Uncharted Golden Abyss, Killzone Mercenary, Fifa, Lumines, Tearaway, Gravity Rush, Zero Escape Virtues Last Reward, Everybody's Golf, Soul Sacrifice, Dragons Crown, Persona 4 Golden.

    I must admit however, that my interest in hand held games has waned since I got my PS4 and I haven't really bought anything for it for the last 18 months.

    Since its deign so bad they should really add features to interest more players. Still waiting for them to make the Vita region free so I can use my US PSN games like Breath Of Fire IV..

      Support for Multiple Accounts, UI redesign, many, many things that are needed to bring Vita up to snuff.

      They should just open source the lot of it.

      Just set it to US, more & cheaper games anyway.

      I got BoFIV for 99c!

        99c! That's insane! Worse case scenario i may have to do that. Although i will need to repurchase alot of my PS1 games.

          There's been some real gems. Just remember, the exchange rate isn't so great atm

            That's true. Thanks for the tips :)

              Best price for PSN bux is Amazon, it accepts your Aussie credit card but requires you supply a US Billing Address. Make one up.

              Best price for physical games is videogamesplus.com
              A Canadian store, their dollar is pretty close to ours.

              Remember, dlc is region locked even though games aren't & Canadian games are the same region as US (Like Au & UK).

    Love my Vita. I drifted away from it this year as I wasn't travelling and had eye-related health issues, but while stuck in buses all over SE Asia it was awesome. The screen is so lovely.

    With the Vita being considered a failure I'd hate to see the sales of the Playstation TV.

    I'm still embarrassed to say that I went to JB a week before release to pre order it, and was greeted with a blank stare. I still don't think they've sold another one.

    After having Nintendo portables for years, when I finally got a Vita last year I was amazed at the quality of the thing. It feels so nice in hand. I don't play it all that often but it's always nice to get even more free games with my PS+ sub every month.

    Sales have been atrocious, marketing is non-existent, and Sony has all but admitted that they have stopped supporting the system... 12,782 unit sales in Japan alone for the week 14/11/15 would suggest support and sales numbers are strong. It even had 2 of the top ten titles sold the previous week nation wide. If you're referring in isolation to the Australian market, I'd agree with 2 of your points. I'd say though that Sony still shows support for the Vita, updating remote play fidelity and of course the massive catalogue of PSP/PSX titles on PSN.

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