Is a new Vita handheld on the way from Sony, and are they too late to the game?

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While we’ve had their streaming Portal device since last year, many have been hoping for a true follow-up to the PS Vita ever since the console was officially discontinued five years ago. If the latest sets of rumours are true, then we may finally be getting our wish as things seem to be getting interesting with regards to a mythical PS Vita 2…

PS Vita 2 – The Rumours

Rumours have been circulating for the last few months about a successor to the PS Vita. Unusually though, these have come from not one, but two different and reputable sources have been reliable in the past when it has come to leaks with plans from the electronics giant. The first set of rumours started earlier this year and involved manufacturer AMD and an alleged partnership with Sony Interactive Entertainment.

This first set of reports hinted that AMD were already developing the chipset for a new handheld, with performance set somewhere between that of the PS4 and PS5. Understandably, this is a huge leap up from not only what we’ve seen before but also what we would expect from Nintendo from the Switch 2. This reported deal was to be part of an arrangement to tie in with the future development of the PS6. Very little else was confirmed, although a proposed release date for a new handheld wasn’t likely for another year or so.

Even More Rumours

The second, came last week from Russian journalist Anton Logvinov who was the one to break the news about major PlayStation games such as Death Stranding being ported to the PC. In his report, he stated that Sony were working on a handheld and while there were no firm details forthcoming, the first wave of titles consisted of PS4 games.

What Does This Mean

It’s hard to speculate what Sony’s real intentions are right now, if anything based on a couple of reports that could just be speculation at best or wishful thinking at worst. Both seem to be referring to the PS4 and while that’s certainly an improvement in terms of technology over the Vita, if we assumed that this was the base specification for a handheld in 2025, it’s still based on a console that would be 12 years old by that point. That might be great for those used to the Vita or Switch as a handheld system, but is that really good enough in 2025/2026? More importantly, what sort of lifespan would such a machine have?

A Flawed Concept

Throughout this, I’m working on the assumption that there is some truth to these rumours and that we might actually see a new PS4 based handheld from Sony (or one that has a minimum of PS4 performance at the heart of it). While this may sound great on paper, it’s going to have the same problems that we experienced with the PS Vita, as well as a lot of new ones of its own that would need addressing if it was going to have a chance of being a success.

Backwards Compatability

The PS Vita was critcised for not being backwards compatible with the PSP. And while this wasn’t done on a physical level, at least it was capable of running PSP, Minis and PSOne games digitally after launch. I don’t see Sony willing to invest in adding a cartridge port to any new handheld devices, so that would limit the hardware to digital only. There’s no reason why digital PS Vita emulation wouldn’t be possible as long as the will is there. Doing this would at least give current PS Vita owners some reassurance that their current digital collection can be transferred over.

Storage

A major let-down with the PS Vita both in terms of cost and capacity, this will only get worse for a PS4-based platform. Assuming a new device would opt for a 1080p screen, redundant game assets could be removed that aren’t needed to save space (4K still images or large textures), game files would still potentially be huge. That will rule out physical game distribution completely so truthfully, it would need to ship with the equivalent of a 2Tb SSD as standard as drives like this aren’t going to be hot-swappable in the way the Vita’s memory cards were.

No New Games?

Unless the PS5 is going to be used as the base standard for the hardware, a new PS Vita is already going to be at a disadvantage. At launch we could see a system built around re-releases of old games that everyone already owns. There would be little incentive for companies to risk creating new titles for a handheld system based on old technology when the PS5 has a much bigger market eager for new games. By that point, the PS4 will be approaching the end of its lifecycle and close to being discontinued – will developers really be looking at writing new games for hardware built using that technology?

The Nintendo Approach

When it comes to handheld systems, Nintendo have (almost) always done things the right way. Rather than trying to be the best in terms of hardware, they’ve put all their attention on the games and let those sell the systems for them. People seldom talk about the specs or performance of any Nintendo console, but they do remember the games that have run on them. That’s how they’ve managed to be a generation behind their competitors yet still outsell them almost every time. Both the PSP and PS Vita were more powerful than their Nintendo counterparts, yet Nintendo won out in terms of market share.

It was the same with the Wii. We may have scoffed over its visuals and the family focused games it offered, but it had the right games to enable it to outsell the PS3 and XBox 360. It’s been the same with the Switch enabling it to outsell the PS4 and XBox One. It’s an age-old story dating right back to the 8-bit days, but its software and not hardware specs that sells consoles.

So a new PS Vita wouldn’t necessarily need to be as powerful as a PS5, but it would need a killer games line up to make it a must have console. Exclusives would be vital that aren’t available anywhere else, new games in favourite franchises but if it relied just on ports it would be destined to fail before even a single unit reached the stores.

Too Little, Too Late?

While some are excited about the prospect of a new handheld PS Vita, sadly I’m not one of them. If Sony are planning a new handheld console, I genuinely believe that it’s not because the same passion is there that made the Vita a reality, but rather there is a commercial desire to cash in on the success of the Switch and Steam Deck. From a business point of view that’s perfectly understandable, but when a system is being created with money at the heart of its creation rather than gamers in mind, something will invariably go wrong and compromises will be made.

Sony had years to rectify their mistakes with the PS Vita while the machine was still on sale but instead kept doubling-down on the problems fans kept begging them to fix. I see no likelihood that this position will change for any future handheld console. Furthermore with Nintendo already stating that the Switch 2 is going to be backwards compatible with the original Switch (which has sold almost 140m units worldwide), they’re already up against an established userbase that is going to be almost impossible to challenge.

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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