Sony has announced that they will cease production of the PS Vita in Japan after 2019. The news was confirmed in an interview with Famistu by Sony Interactive Entertainment’s Senior Vice President, Hiroyuki Oda. Oda further explained that there are no plans for a follow up system. Although news of the end of production in Japan doesn’t explicitly mean production and shipment will end elsewhere, this conclusion can reasonably be drawn. The handheld was first released in December 2011, and has sold 16 million units over its lifetime, a significant drop from the PSP’s 80 million units. It was also dwarfed in sales by Nintendo’s contemporary offering, with the 3DS moving around 73 million units.
While the Vita‘s demise was partially due to a lack of exclusives, it earned a reputation as an indie game machine, sporting a large number of ports of popular smaller scale games. When paired with cross-play functionality supported by Sony’s consoles, it offered a relatively seamless way to play games at home and on the road while maintaining save data, a concept which arguably influenced the recent mega-hit, the Nintendo Switch. While the Vita’s form factor, relative power, and abundance of indie games worked in its favor, first party support was limited to just a few titles like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, and Gravity Rush.
It’s hard to tell if the Switch’s success increases or decreases the likelihood that Sony will eventually follow up the Vita with a new handheld. On the one hand the Switch’s impressive sales numbers prove that the popularity of mobile gaming hasn’t entirely cannibalised this market. It makes sense that these are largely two separate audiences considering the general difference in cost and scope of games on either platform. However, on the other hand, Sony now has to contend with market domination of the Switch, Nintendo’s full first party support, and the strength of the Switch’s gimmick. It’s hard to imagine that cross-play, a process which requires owning two different expensive pieces of hardware and specific developer support, could ever contend with the convenience that Nintendo’s latest provides. It will be interesting to see if Sony, or anyone else, decides to contend with Nintendo’s largely unchallenged dominance of the handheld space any time soon.
Source: The Verge