Developing for Playstation Vita in 2021 and Beyond

A scene from one of VitaHEX's full games, in the Unity Editor.

If you know anything about me (not that you shouldn’t), you know that I love supporting game development. I also love supporting the homebrew scene. So, with Sony’s announcement about the Vita store shutting down later this year, what will happen with development? Will it be possible to continue releasing games officially? Which engines will support exporting Vita binaries? Let’s take a closer look at Developing for Playstation Vita in 2021 and Beyond.

Official Support: Officially Dead

To make a long story short, if you want to make games for the Vita moving forward, they will be homebrew. There is no longer QA happening. No official way to sell physical games for the Vita. There is no pipeline to officially publish digital games.

As of August 2021, the Playstation Vita will become a legacy device, and no games will be sold for the platform. So, if you haven’t officially published a PS Vita game by now, I’m afraid the ship has sailed.

Module-dependent Engines Like Game Maker: Jury’s Out

There are some game engines which depend on paid or exclusive modules to export to the Vita. Game Maker is a prime example. If you develop your game in Game Maker, you need to show the creators of Game Maker that you are a Playstation Vita-approved developer to get access to the module.

So, if you’re a new developer trying to port your game to the Vita, what will happen? Of course, you can’t sell the game anymore, but will Game Maker give you the opportunity of exporting a Vita binary nonetheless? It remains to be seen. I hope so, because Game Maker is an accessible engine that produced great titles, such as 10 Second Ninja X.

Platform-agnostic Engines Like Unity, Unreal: Full Steam Ahead

Up to this point, there’s no indication that the plugins which allow for unofficial export within Unity or Unreal will stop working. It isn’t an official way of releasing anything, so it’ll be homebrew. But at least you’ll get the opportunity to develop for the Vita and play the games there.

In fact, a lot of homebrew developers (including our good friend VitaHEX) are using engines such as these to produce very cool, unofficial games. This may change in the future, but for now, you can develop and export Vita games without major issues.

Handcrafted Engines Based on Frameworks: No Issues, Either

Of course, if you develop your own engine, you’re all good. Regardless of whether you go at it from scratch, or use a framework to develop the game, you’re probably going to be alright. Again, the game won’t be an “official” release. But at least it’ll be out.

And friends like VitaHEX have shown us that you can still sell your homebrew games via places like Patreon or direct sale to customers. That’s been a huge part of the homebrew community since its inception. It’s the same for the Vita.

Developing for Playstation Vita in 2021 and Beyond: Homebrew Ahoy

Well, that’s it for now. It seems like there’s still plenty to look forward to in terms of game development for the Vita. Of course, it’ll have to be homebrew. And it’s important to know that if you want to develop or play homebrew games, you’ll need to hack and jailbreak your Vita.

But if you do that, there are tons and tons of advantages, like whitelisting games for PSTV, overclocking, accessing homebrew software, and more.

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About Marcos Codas 335 Articles
Lover of portable gaming and horror cinema. Indie filmmaker and game developer. Multimedia producer. Born in Paraguay, raised in Canada. Huge fan of "The Blair Witch Project", and "Sonic 3D Blast". Deputy head at Vita Player and its parent organization, Infinite Frontiers. Like what I do? Donate a coffee: https://www.paypal.me/marcoscodas