Even when it was still in production, many wrote off the PS Vita as a dead format. It was understandable given Sony’s apparent disdain for the system. But a handful of loyal developers and publishers like Ratalaika Games, Sometimes You, and Eastasiasoft stuck with it right until the end. But since then, the homebrew community have taken the lead and continued to provide a never-ending stream of software, helping to prove the statement fans have been repeating for the last few years, “Vita means life”.
Filling The Gaps
But one thing we have seen thanks to the homebrew community is that they have stepped up where the commercial publishers and Sony failed to. One of the most obvious was the ability to use MicroSD cards for storage by way of an adaptor on hacked PS Vitas. We’re all frustrated by the limitations of memory cards on the Vita, and this opened up storage options on the console in terms of capacity and affordability.
In addition to that, we’ve seen an incredible number of games ported to the PS Vita from other systems with games arriving almost weekly including titles from the Need For Speed, GTA, Final Fantasy and Call Of Duty series. New apps have been released to either replace or compliment ones bundled with the PS Vita and brand new original releases. But there are still untapped areas that could be explored by the homebrew market…
Even with fast approaching 1,000 homebrew titles available for the Vita and the same for commercial releases the PS Vita still doesn’t have direct access to any of the major slots or casino sites on the market. It’s browser has limited functionality so it can’t use most sites online so if you want to visit somewhere like the Ricky Casino website using your PS Vita then you’re out of luck. But what if these apps could be converted to the PS Vita with the help of the homebrew community?
This may sound far-fetched, and it’s certainly something that hasn’t been done before but it might just be possible…
A New Approach
To make apps like this happen on the Vita would need a change to the current approach used by many developers. Obviously the first thing that would be essential would be a formal partnership between the app platform and the developer themselves although this would basically be a formality. Taking the homebrew approach wouldn’t be the first time this approach has been considered as the developers of the cancelled game Pixel Noir did think about releasing the Vita port this way once it’s commercial release was abandoned.
So how could such a title work via homebrew? One thing many don’t realise when it comes to games ported to the PS Vita is that much of the game code used is still intact for the PS Vita “ports”. They are designed to use “wrappers” which are essentially smaller pieces of code which then run the original games inside them. For example, the recent Vita port of Soul Calibur is the Android version running inside an outer shell so you need the Android original to play it.
The same could work for casino apps, running the original app inside a Vita outer wrapper effectively acting as an interpreter between the Android software and the Vita hardware allowing the Vita owners to use the software.
There would only be two stumbling blocks preventing these from working properly. The obvious first one would be online connectivity. The Vita’s hardware does this natively and there are plenty of homebrew titles that have also been able to handle this (video streaming, software downloads and trophy support) so connecting to the host networks won’t be an issue.
The only key problem would be data security. Obviously the original app would be secure, as would the server it connects to so the only weak link in the chain would be the homebrew wrapper. If all the necessary security is handled by the server and Android app and isn’t needed by the wrapper then this could again just be a formality to get these working. However, if a third layer of security is needed to make these apps safe then this could be the only stumbling block.
The only real factor in whether these would happen is if there is the demand there or not. On a technical level they’re clearly possible, but the question remains whether they are financially viable or not. But this could open up a whole new world of homebrew titles for the Vita if someone was willing to take the plunge.