The PlayStation Vita (PS Vita, Vita) is the successor to the PlayStation Portable (PSP) and Sony’s most recent handheld to date. In its market the system competes against the likes of the 3DS, though both companies have suggested they do not consider themselves to be. It is estimated that around 10 million units sold (by the end of 2015).
Created in an era where handheld gaming was up and coming, whether it be through a tablet, smartphones or portable gaming system – Sony set to create the highest quality product in the market. Though they faced many problems doing so, including more modern technology being produced and threatening the product. This is the reason that the Vita is heavily supported by indie games such as Hotline Miami and Japanese RPGs like Tales of Hearts, which upheld the system through its lifespan.
Starting its development lifecycle in 2009, many rumours circulated the internet whilst fans conspired about the follow up system to the acclaimed PSP. Within the next year photographs of early prototypes were released to the media with the handheld looking very similar to the PSP Go. This particular model was prone to overheating problems so Sony announced that they would have to adapt the design to look alike the original PSP.
Announced in January 2011, the console was designed to please a wide variety of fans, with a touchscreen for a younger audience as well as buttons and two joysticks for the older generation of gamers. The original model featured a 5-inch touch-screen as well as built in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, some having optional 3G.
Later, the system went through a remodel that was 20% thinner and 15% lighter than the original. With an extra hours battery life and 1GB internal memory storage it seemed to greatly improve upon the initial model. However, Sony did come under some attack about the cheaper and lower-quality LCD screen used for the redesign. This model was released in 6 different colours in Japan (white, black, lime green, pink and khaki) though was only released in black in the North American and UK markets.
The PlayStation TV was an innovation created by Sony that allows Vita games to be played at 1080p on a television. Players can also play games via Remote Play and PlayStation Now on this device. The PSTV did not sell well in any market and was discontinued in late 2015 in Western markets.
Initial launch was planned months earlier than it eventually was but due to a series of Japanese earthquakes production was hindered greatly. When the system finally launched, there were 26 titles available to play and over 100 more in development. In the west the system launched with approximately 30 titles which included both original titles (Uncharted: Golden Abyss) as well as ports of popular games (Rayman Origins).
Upon release, the system sold strong with 300,000 units sold within the first week in Japan, which rapidly fell to 12,000 per week only a couple of weeks later. Similar stories could be found in the Western markets with 200,000 sales in the first month in North America that fell down to 50,000 a month preceding this.
Due to the low sales, large, western countries began to lose trust in the console and began reducing support. Sony then decided to reach out to smaller, indie developers to port their games onto the system. Though not creating a huge following with the handheld, the fans they did gain were dedicated and had enthusiastic companies readily producing games for the system.
Over in Japan, however, Sony were not having the same problems as the handheld was selling steadily and was continually outselling 3DS. Furthermore, they were steadily backed by Japanese developers Bandai Namco as well as many others. The Japanese audience was overall pleased with the system and the titles being released as the majority of these were RPGs.
Coming towards the release of the PlayStation 4, Sony started to shift the focus onto the new home console through releasing fewer first party games for the system. To make up for the lack of focus on the handheld, the Vita became compatible with the PS4 through remote play and could be backwards compatible through PS Now. Plans were also in motion to make the PS Vita as a secondary screen for PSVR and the PSTV was brought onto the market.
The games library of the Vita consisted of games cards and downloads from the PS Store and the player could gain trophies from gameplay through this console. In terms of backwards compatibility the system could play most PSP games and through PS Now could play PlayStation 3 games.
Some applications came preloaded onto the system including browser, email, a music player and a video player. Through the PS Store, apps such as Twitter, YouTube, Netflix and Skype could be downloaded onto the system.
Reception to the system was positive in the majority, however, criticism was mainly pointed towards the high price of the system and its memory cards. Despite this the handheld won T3 magazines ‘Gadget Gaming of the Year’ beating its competitor, the 3DS.