We’ve been extremely fortunate to have a vibrant homebrew community on the Vita almost from the start. And thanks to the efforts of great folks like theFlow, we now have access to improved versions of PSP and Vita games, as well as never-released-on-Vita games like Battlefield: Bad Company 2. But as far as the most impactful port goes, right now I don’t think it’ll be a game.
Forget Game Ports: The Vita Needs a Modern Browser
Now, hear me out. I know this isn’t a very common take, but trust me, there’s reason to behind my madness. First, of course, you will get to play all of the amazing HTML5 games you can play on modern browsers (for free, no less) by visiting places like plays.org. And that’s great: browser games have come a long way.
But it’s not just browser games that work on modern browser technology. Most HTML5 engines like Construct 3, RPG Maker MV and GDevelop require a modern browser environment to function. Can you imagine the amount of games you will be able to play on the Vita, that you couldn’t before, simply by porting a modern browser which is supported by these engines?
It’s Not Just the Games
It doesn’t stop at games, either. By implementing a modern browser you can bring back a lot of the fantastic functionality that’s been lost by the Vita thanks to Sony “updates”.
For instance, if you were able to port a Chromium version which supports Widevine DRM, you could play Netflix, Disney+, Hulu and all other streaming services which require it. This will not only be great for the Vita, but imagine what it might do to the PSTV!
Even without Widevine support, you could have access to stuff like PlutoTV, and YouTube. Heck, because there’s microphones and speakers, you could run web versions of Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet. I remember very clearly having Skype conversations with my wife over the PS Vita before the functionality was removed.
A Modern Browser Would be the Ultimate Vita Port
There are actually even more applications for a modern browser. In COVID times, a Vita could have been used as a remote learning tool for those Vita owners who did not possess a powerful PC or a smartphone capable of accessing online classrooms.
I could go on and on. But you get the gist. The truth is, I adore the work that theFlow and the whole homebrew community have been doing. I love it so much, I’ve actually interviewed VitaHEX not long ago (still waiting to hear back from theFlow regarding my invitation).
But for the Vita to make the next step into a truly useful legacy device, it needs to have a modern browser. The hardware is, I believe, there. The CPU inside the Vita has modern instruction sets. Sure, the RAM will likely be the limiting factor, but giving users at least the option of using a Vita Port of Chromium or Firefox for casual browsing, experimentation and homebrew development would truly be a game-changer.