Death Of The PS Vita – One Year Later

The Launch Model Vita

July 2021 was a solemn month for Vita fans around the world. It marked the end of commercial software for the PS Vita as Sony closed submissions for new games from developers globally. We had a lucky reprieve after Sony changed their minds about closing the PS Vita and PS3 stores down announced just a few weeks earlier. But with no new games to come, and physical releases set to end with the last games coming from Eastasiasoft, the Vita’s time was finally up…

Yet one year later and people are still passionate about the PS Vita. The phrase “Vita means life” has never been more significant to its owners and against all odds, the community is still actively supporting a platform that should have disappeared and moved on to new pastures years ago. But a lot can change in twelve months in the games industry, even more so for a console that has been discontinued. Read on and see how the Vita has fared…

PlayStation Store

While the store is still active for the Vita, it’s not as healthy as it was a year ago. Games are slowly being delisted and removed from sale. While this happens all the time, either due to publishers closing down, licenses expiring and so on, this seems to be happening more rapidly for the PS Vita. It’s also now harder to find games to purchase as the search function on the Vita is woefully underpowered. And with the PC version of the store no longer supporting the platform, many users simply aren’t bothering to buy Vita games any more.

Sales

Surprisingly, PS Vita games are still being reduced in sales throughout the year on the PSN Store. Well, sort of. Thanks to Cross Buy, there are regular bargains to be had for games available for the PS4 and Vita, and these can be purchased easily using a PS4 or a PC if you want to search for the sales easily. With hundreds of Cross Buy titles still available, there’s a good chance we’ll still see a lot of sales to come.

Homebrew

The homebrew scene for the Vita is not only active, but is growing every day. New games are being released constantly, and the emulation side of things is hotting up as well. Only recently, a new Dreamcast emulator was unveiled demonstrating an incredible level of performance, again putting the console at the forefront of handheld emulation.

Piracy

The downside of Sony’s disregard of the platform is that it’s now one of the favourite systems amongst software pirates. With no new games being released other than homebrew, the Vita and it’s games are now only available as second hand items. Physical games are increasing in price rapidly and becoming much sought-after collectors items and with the scarcity of memory cards, new owners are encouraged to hack their consoles as soon as they get them.

And that’s the real problem. While digital games are still available to buy easily enough, most are taking advantage of hacked consoles and software that can be obtained to illegally download the PS Vita’s commercial games catalogue. People doing this seem to forget that while their console may be second hand and the system itself may be discontinued, developers are still earning money from every digital Vita game that is sold. By resorting to piracy instead, this is a slap in the face to every small developer who ever supported the system when others moved elsewhere.

Cross Buy

I mentioned Cross Buy elsewhere, but this is still an important part of the PS Vita and it’s games catalogue. Even when Sony eventually decides to take the store offline for Vita owners, we’ll still have Cross Buy support and games available to us. But what is a surprise is that new Cross Buy support is still being added for Vita games. Tikipod recently released the PS5 version of their shooter/RPG hybrid Astro Aqua Kitty and not only does it offer Cross Buy with the PS4 and PS Vita, but this now works for the PS5 version as well. You need to buy the PS5 or PS4 version, but it’s great to see it expanded in this way.

PlayStation Plus

One of the biggest worries earlier this year for many was Sony’s shake-up of the PlayStation Plus service. If, like me, you’d been a member for most if not all of the Vita’s life, you will have amassed a huge collection of games from the PS+ monthly games collection. As someone without a PS4 or PS5, I’d only been keeping my PS+ subscription active to ensure that I could maintain access to all of these games. If I’d let my subscription lapse and then needed to buy them, it would have cost me thousands of pounds.

Fortunately, an active subscription to the new service has kept them in place. But what has frustrated many is one feature found in the premium package. Games are being offered for almost all of Sony’s legacy platforms – PS3, PS2, PSP and PSOne to stream and download – yet there’s no PS Vita content available. Some reports have said that the PSP and PSOne titles use files that are identical to those offered through the Store for the PSOne Classics and PSP games available for the Vita. If that’s the case, why this wasn’t extended for Vita owners is beyond us.

The PS3 Connection

We’ve talked previously about future-proofing and preserving our Vitas. One such area of this was through backing up all our games using Content Manager, either to a PC or PS3. Sadly, this has been another area affected as Sony issued an update for the PS3 this year removing the connectivity function between the PS Vita and PS3. Many believe that the only reason behind it is to prevent piracy of classic titles that could be copied from one system to another. But considering how many would have used the PS3 as a backup device, it seems like another petty move from the manufacturer. Even more so when you consider the fact that Content Manager is reported to be unstable on modern versions of Windows.

Closing Down Of Game Servers

And the final one – and a huge disappointment for those of you who love online gaming or who are trophy hunters – is the steady shut down of various game servers for online multiplayer support. Killzone Mercenary is the latest victim here and while it’s not a shock to see this happen it does make you feel as if the end is getting closer as each game fades away like this.

Overall

Obviously, there’s still life left in the Vita with its homebrew scene. For those of us with them, the size of the game catalogue gives us all plenty to keep playing for years to come still, even if we played every game out there for the system there’s enough to keep us going for years. It’s just sad to see that things are slowly eroding away piece by piece from what had the potential to be Sony’s equivalent of what the Switch has become.

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About Simon Plumbe 1066 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