It’s no secret that the PlayStation Vita is struggling. While the PS4 continues to thrive, consistently leading hardware sales and even beating the New 3DS in sales in Japan last week, the Sony’s handheld Vita simply can’t find a foothold, especially in Western markets.
Unfortunately for Vita adopters, this lack of support has resulted in Sony more or less ignoring the system for the last couple of years. Their development efforts seem to be entirely focused on PlayStation 4, and they’ve even started bringing Vita’s biggest exclusives to the PS4 as well, giving people even less of a reason to own the handheld. This includes Tearaway Unfolded, a greatly enhanced port of the original game, and rumors indicating that a Gravity Rush Remaster is coming to PS4 as well.
As further proof that Sony considers the Vita an afterthought, during the annual investors call, the CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, Andrew House, referred to the Vita as a “legacy system”. The company has since clarified House’s statement, explaining that he was referring to older models of the device, but choosing to refer to the Vita at all as a “legacy system” is a strange choice of words regardless.
In any case, the writing is on the wall for the PS Vita. While it still receives third party support, mostly in the form of niche localizations from Japan and indie games, Sony has shown virtually no interest in providing the handheld with high quality, first-party titles. Their strategy for the next year, as laid out in the investors call, doesn’t even include the Vita as a major element, or even a factor at all.
For the next year, Sony plans on developing and releasing 1st party exclusive games, which could technically mean games for the PS Vita, but considering that there was practically no mention of the Vita during the call (besides calling the device a “legacy system”) handheld Vita users shouldn’t count on it. Primarily, Sony will focus on bolstering the PS4’s library of exclusives, pushing their PlayStation Now streaming service, improving PlayStation Vue, and incorporating Spotify with PlayStation Music. They plan on continuing their support of various 3rd party apps, such as HBO Go and Netflix, as well as counting on 3rd party games to help with the sparse 2015 lineup for the PS4.
Another key part of Sony’s strategy moving forward is to improve membership value for PS Plus subscribers. This will include offering more frequent deals and discounts for Plus subscribers through a new program called PS Plus Specials, along with the inclusion of the typical free monthly games. The PS Vita benefits from PS Plus just like the PS3 and PS4, but most of the time, the PS Vita titles are cross-buy with PS4, meaning that the Vita offerings are rarely exclusive, such is the case with June’s PS Plus offerings.
Sony’s apparent disinterest in continued major support for the PS Vita may lend weight to a recent rumor that Sony was planning drastic price cuts for the Vita and the PS4. This would include lowering the price of the Vita to $89, a discount of $110 from its current suggested retail price. Such a steep price cut seems outlandish and improbable, but considering the difficulty Sony is experiencing when it comes to selling the devices, it’s not completely out of the question.
If another E3 comes and goes without Sony announcing any major first-party Vita titles, it may be fair to call it a “legacy system” after all. Expect any major Vita news to come out of E3 in a few weeks, including confirmation on if the price cut rumor is true.