5 Things The Vita Got Right (and 5 It Got Horribly Wrong!)

We all know now that while the PS Vita had more than its share of great games, as a console it was far from perfect. For a console that promised so much at the beginning, in the end it missed the mark on so many levels. Regardless, it still packed a punch and it’s no wonder that it’s still loved over a decade after its launch. But against the odds, there were things that Sony did get right with the Vita (and a few misses). Here’s our Top 5…

The Good…

1. Cross Buy

Sony were well aware that brand loyalty was important to their customers. So the launch of the Cross Buy was a significant factor in attracting gamers to the PlayStation family. The idea of buying a game and having access to it not once, but potentially three or four times was revolutionary. Even more so when support was added retrospectively to older PS3 games that were ported to the Vita. PlayStation Plus took this a step further ensuring that Vita owners had an instant library of games on hand for when they inevitably planned on buying a PS4 or PS5.

2. Remote Play

The Remote Play concept dated back to 2006 and was originally designed to offer cross functionality between the PSP and PS3. Mainly for accessing media files, it also allowed for a (very) limited number of PS3 games to run on the PSP streaming across from the larger system. It really came into its own when it became an integral part of the Vita’s functionality though. To start off with, support was there for the PS3 offering the same as the PSP but of a higher quality.

Where it really took off was with the launch of the PS4. Almost every title released for the next gen system was compatible, giving the Vita access to an immense library of AAA games that the console was crying out for. While it meant that Vita owners needed both consoles, it ran remarkably well and became a real selling point for many, putting the Vita as an ideal companion system to the PS4. It worked so well that as long as the home PS4 was connected to the internet and the Vita had a stable connection, it had been reported to work well from thousands of miles away!

3. Indie Developers

Often overlooked, the support given to indie developers under the guidance of Shahid Ahmad can’t be ignored. If it wasn’t for Shahid and his team, countless games wouldn’t have appeared on the Vita including the likes of TxK. The Vita was seen as a welcoming platform for developers of all sizes, and innovation was encouraged. While it’s true that the console was perceived as being an indie device in its later years, that was by no means a bad thing.

4. OLED Screen

Years before the Nintendo Switch introduced it, the first model of the PS Vita came equipped with a lavish OLED screen. This brought games to life in a way we hadn’t experienced before in a handheld console. Graphics were clearer, colours more vibrants. Games just looked so much better than we could have ever imagined. The screen really came into its own with arcade shooters, especially stunning titles such as the aforementioned TxK which looks vastly superior on the Vita when compared to its later update Tempest 4000 on  more powerful platforms.

5. Legacy Gaming

The addition of support for digital games from older Sony platforms really can’t be downplayed here. Not only did it open up access to an incredible selection of games (including a wealth of Final Fantasy titles) but also meant that PlayStation Plus members who had been with the service from the early days of the PS3 could access their PSOne and Minis as bonus content. More significantly, it vastly expanded the Vita’s catalogue overnight.

And The Bad…

1. Memory Cards

These are always on everyone’s list when it comes to their criticisms of the PS Vita. It wasn’t just the price of the cards that frustrated gamers, but the poor availability and limited capacity. While everyone else was using industry standard MicroSD cards, we were left struggling for storage. And to add insult to injury, the higher capacity 64gb cards were exclusive to Japan!

2. PlayStation TV

Don’t get me wrong… I absolutely love the PlayStation TV. It’s just a shame that Sony didn’t. Or at least Sony in the West didn’t take to the micro console. The potential the device had was enormous, getting the Vita into the living room but instead it was marketed as a PS4 accessory. Sold without a controller, and with no media streaming services to speak of it was doomed from the start. The packaging barely even mentioned the fact that it was a PS Vita inside the casing! What could have been a huge seller ended up being relegated to the bargain bins.

3. Bubbles, Bubbles Everywhere

There’s no denying that the Vita’s user interface looked good. It was easy to reconfigure and all your games and other installed software looked great on the Vita’s OLED screen. But it was flawed from the start. The initial limit to just 100 icons on the homescreen meant that gamers were limited in the number of titles they could have installed on the console, hindered further by the pre-installed software taking up many of these. This problem was compounded by the fact that physical games added an icon whether they were in the console or not leaving those with large collections to struggle.

The limit was increased, along with the ability to add folders but icons still remained in placce for all physical games, taking up valuable space. For those with a passion for the smaller Minis, or larger physical collections this still proved to be problematic.

4. PlayStation Mobile

This had the potential to be the successor to the popular Minis range. Affordable budget-price games, compatability with a range of Sony-approved mobile devices and a platform that encouraged new developers to the PlayStation family. What could go wrong? Well, everything did. First, it was snubbed by countless Vita owners because the format didn’t support Trophies or Leaderboards. While the latter was added, it was in the closing stages of the service and was too little, too late.

Secondly, Sony rarely promoted the games (or what PlayStation Mobile was) on their weekly Blog. Many didn’t know that PSM existed or thought that the games were just for phones. The bulk of the marketing was left to fan sites. Even the PlayStation Store left games hidden away with little or no advertising. The final nail in the coffin was the attitude towards the games and developers. PlayStation Mobile was closed down at very short notice, with many developers still working on games. Everything was removed from the store and unlike every other title, players weren’t even able to re-download previous purchases. It left over 500 games lost forever. It did leave a legacy behind of some fantastic games though, some of which received native PS Vita ports later down the line.

5. Marketing

Before I start here, I want to stress that the Vita did fairly well in Japan right up until it was discontinued, both in terms of hardware and software sales. It is the Western market where it was failed by Sony (but sadly that was the largest market and the one that ultimately mattered)…

To start off with, Sony did make an effort with the PS Vita. There were large displays at retail, demonstration units and even television adverts. But things turned sour as soon as the PlayStation 4 was released. That became their shiny new toy and all attention switched to that. Store displays were taken down and swapped to the PS4, less and less attention was given to the Vita in the PlayStation Blog, and even PlayStation store reps weren’t talking about the console with much enthusiasm.

Little effort was given over to promoting games, nothing was said about legacy gaming, and it’s no wonder that many staff at retail had no idea about the vast and diverse catalogue that the Vita had to offer. So when prospective Vita owners saw limited displays and asked for information on the console, many staff repeated what they had been told… resulting in more sales for Nintendo. It’s quite sad to think that better communication could have resulted in a substantially higher sales figures for the Vita but no-one seemed interested.

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Was there anything we missed or do you have a different Top 5 to us? Let us know in the comments below!

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About Simon Plumbe 1071 Articles
Husband, father and lifelong geek. Originally from the West Midlands, now spending my days in South Wales with my family and a house full of animals. Passionate about video games, especially retro gaming, the Commodore 64 and PlayStation Vita. Love pro wrestling, sci-fi and I'm an animal lover and vegetarian. Enjoyed this and my other articles? Why not buy me a coffee: http://ko-fi.com/simonplumbe