Sony are ceasing production of games on PlayStation Vita cards for physical releases in North America and Europe at the end of this financial year. New games will be digital only via PlayStation Store from that point onward.
In a document sent out to developers, Sony Interactive Entertainment have made a statement of their “plan to end all Vita GameCard production by close of fiscal year 2018”. Sony’s fiscal or financial year ends on the 31st March 2019. Kotaku originally broke the story but a Sony Spokesperson confirmed the information soon afterwards.
Developers have been warned that they need to have their ready-for-production code for any new physical releases submitted by the 28th June (2018). Any final repeat orders of Vita cards already produced need to be with them by 15th February 2019 so that the last cards will come off the production line in March.
From that point all releases in Europe and America will be digital only through PlayStation Store, assuming you can get enough memory cards. It is believed that physical releases in Japan will not be affected by the move, as sales in the country are still strong in comparison.
The unwelcome news is nonetheless unsurprising following the statement from Sony that the Vita is regarded as a legacy platform. A further announcement was made earlier this year that PlayStation Plus’ monthly game collection will cease to include PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3 games from next spring. Rumblings about PlayStation 5 possibly seeing a release in late 2019 or 2020 clearly is having an impact in advance of it’s official announcement.
Playstation Vita has been on the market in America and Europe since February 2012 (after a Japanese release in December 2011), giving it six years on the market thus far. This November marks the 5th Anniversary of the launch of PlayStation 4 – Sony’s focus is clearly being moved to their vision of the future of the PlayStation brand.