Fans Are Finally Coming To Terms With The Vita's Death

Screenshot: Sony, Gravity Rush

The PlayStation Vita spent much of its brief life dying. Now that Sony has officially ended production in Japan, who’s left to mourn its passing and pour one out for all the good times?

In May of 2015, then-CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Andrew House referred to to the Vita as a “legacy platform,” eliciting the first wave of reports proclaiming the handheld was dead. As the device’s audience continued to shrink, however, its biggest fans seemed to take some solace in seeing their own passion for the Vita reflected in those who remained.

They could share thoughts water-cooler-style around the Vita Island hashtag on Twitter, or frequent a number of Vita-centric forums around the internet, including Reddit’s own r/Vita. Years later, even those once-vibrant microcommunities have stagnated and decayed.

Once upon a time, the top posts on the Vita subreddit tended to focus on announcements of new games like Digimon World: Next Order or ports like Stardew Valley. Later, they shifted to perennial favourites like people sharing pictures of their Vita game collections, discussing the best new PS4 games to play on the Vita using remote play, and laughing at the latest Vita burn by the Kaz Hirai parody Twitter account.

More recently, the entire subreddit has the feeling of a retirement home. Occasionally, a new user will pop in with a post about how they just got a Vita, love it, and want to know what games are worth checking out, but more often, the posts on the front page revolve around someone trying to diagnose a problem with their Vita as age begins to catch up with it. The touch screens are becoming unresponsive. Static is coming out of one of the speakers. Games keep freezing.

Photo: Kotaku

The only real news that does come through almost always has to do with something Vita-related dying. Vita Lounge, once a premier fan site, stopped updating with news and reviews some time ago. Now the site no longer loads at all. The PlayStation blog used to feature a Vita shortcut button at the top of the page. Today fans woke up to discover it no longer does.

Occasionally someone will ask which online Vita games still have players. The answers are always slim pickings.

A bizarre strain of gallows humour has also taken hold in certain parts of the Vita subreddit. A couple months ago some users starting shitposting about Michael Jackson: The Experience, a 2010 music game Ubisoft probably regrets ever making that was ported to just about every platform, including the Vita, despite being generally loathed by everyone who ever came into contact with it. In posts that have since been deleted, they would talk it up as a hidden gem in the style of a hundred other posts doing the same for other forgotten Vita games.

“There’s definitely undertones of defeat,” one of the posters told Kotaku in an email when reflecting on the Vita subreddit. “After the Switch came out, I think most people there had to accept they were talking about an antiquated piece of history. Personally I think the sub’s at the point where Michael Jackson shitposting is a ‘shot in the arm’ rather than unnecessary spam. That’s a bit sad.”

Other forums dedicated to the Vita aren’t in much better shape. The GameFAQs Vita Message Board is similarly awash in posts like “How long will Sony keep the store up?” and “How does a memory card die?” In the ResetEra thread devoted to the Vita, it’s not unusual for days or weeks to go by between posts.

With Vita games no longer a part of each month’s PlayStation Plus offering, there are fewer and fewer opportunities for Vita fans to connect on the official PlayStation Blog either. All the ones that do have to talk about is which of their favourite games had once been free to download in months past.

The Vita Island hashtag on Twitter still has a little life in it, like messages in a bottle being cast into the ocean. You can still search the words on Twitter to find Vita owner’s joyously blasting off pictures of their modified console or whatever Vita game they’ve currently fallen in love with.

But it seems like the momentum Vita enthusiasts clung on to is finally fading. Acolytes seem to be running on fumes now that it’s clearer their passion alone won’t propel the handheld toward some future. Still, no one can accuse them of not making the most of it while it lasted.


Comments

    Requiring proprietary memory cards rather than using SD Cards killed any chance of me buying a Vita.

    I won't miss it, but I feel for those who do, especially in its late-life era as a portable indie platform.

      I can kind of understand why they did it, but agree that it was a bad move all the same.

      I think the idea was to ensure that the only way data could be read from or written to storage was through the Vita firmware. If you look at the PS3 as a comparison, while it encrypts everything written to disk, you can inspect the cipher text by pulling the hard drive out and connecting it to a PC. Given the way the encryption worked, if you knew the plain text of a particular block on the drive (e.g. because you'd copied a video to the hard drive from a USB key), you'd be able to decode any future data stored in that particular block. By filling the drive and then deleting chosen files, you'd be able to force new content (e.g. game data) to be written to your chosen blocks. From that point, you could even modify the encrypted game data, possibly including executable code. Making the cipher text inaccessible cuts off a lot of these attacks.

      Of course, now that Sony has lost interest in the platform it leaves any remaining users out in the cold. On eBay there are people selling adapters that purport to adapt microSD cards to the Vita card form factor. However the descriptions state that they will only work with an ancient release of the Vita firmware. If Sony has truely given up on the platform, they could earn a bit of good will by removing the checks that disable these adapters...

    The opening up of the Vita completely will preserve its life thru CFW and such going forward. Whilst its a death, its no dead yet.

    I'm not going to lie, I got my Vita purely as a curiousity and my local EB Games had a bundle going on it.

    There were problems but I'll focus on the positives first.

    For a small device, it had an impressive amount of technology thus a lot of game opportunities.

    Of interest to me was the OLED screen. That got dropped in the later models but mine still has one.

    The UI was both cleaver and fun in my opinion. This is more subjective than objective but I honestly had a chuckle at how one closed an app by pealing its sticker off.

    In terms of games, I will always remember my Vita for introducing me to Gravity Rush. At times the controls got annoying and in the way but over all I had a lot of fun with the game.

    Sadly this is where I come to the problems which will completely obliterate the positives above.

    I mention my enjoyment of Gravity Rush. The problem is that is the only game I completed. Beside some PS1 classics from the story, I didn't play anything else on the thing. And it came bundled with Little Big Planet.

    While it had impressive technology, a look at the library show the main features (touch screen and motion controls) were not vital. So like the Wii, great potential but became a go to for ports.

    And the main one, the cost. It was a handheld yet cost around as much as a console. And as others pointed out, the cost of memory cards (due to their proprietary format) was also kept people away.

    Even if memory card cost wasn't a problem, the proprietary nature is frowned on as many would like to keep their save games from when the handheld eventually dies. The cards were only proprietary so Sony could stall attempts to make custom firmwares (which never freaking works!).

    At the end of the day (at least for us in the West), the Vita was another example of games and game play being more important than technology.

    It's no secret that I myself am pretty niche in my interests but even looking at the later part of the Vita's life shows many "new" games were ports from their console predecessors.

    Over all, the Vita many not have had the best run here for I still enjoyed my brief moment. I might even find its charger and plug mine in to see if it still works.

    I'd like to pick one up when they're going out the door super cheap.

      They haven't been sold in Aus for years, if you are going over to Japan you might get one cheap, otherwise ebay and about $250 for a new console is your only option.

        Finding the memory cards may be even more difficult.

        Someone'll chuck one on Gumtree eventually for a silly price, but even if not, I won't be sad if I can't find one. I never really touched my PSP.

    vita + sd2vita adapter + high capacity microsd card + cfw = one hell of a machine!

      thanks for the hint i just got a PS Vita again and im looking into to do this thanks

        No worries, RetroArch works great on it for older titles and Adrenaline will give you full backwards compatibility with PSP and PS1

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now