Is Sony turning PS Vita owners to piracy instead of buying digital titles?

Just over a year ago, I asked the question about whether now was the time for PS Vita owners to consider piracy to be acceptable – or at least to a limited degree.  A lot has happened in that time, and perhaps it’s a question that’s even more important to look at today. Especially when the Vita’s only commercial existence is now through the second hand market, and specialists who deal in third party accessories or repairs for our favourite handheld.

Fading Cross Buy Support

This website has become well-known worldwide for our coverage of Cross Buy for the PS Vita. Our comprehensive guide has been a “go-to” resource for collectors everywhere, especially as many of the titles are on sale frequently allowing Vita owners to get bargains on a regular basis. But as we reported recently, this support is disappearing with PS Vita games slowly being delisted, or having Cross Buy support removed.

In some cases, games have been removed from sale due to a change in publishers and when they have returned to the store it’s also often only the PS4 version that makes a comeback again removing the PS Vita version completely. PlayStation Store listings don’t seem to help as they’re not a reliable way of knowing whether games are actually Cross Buy or not. We’ve already heard reports from gamers who have bought games based on store information saying they were Cross Buy, only to find that Vita versions no longer existed.

PlayStation Plus

While attempting to re-assess our Cross Buy list I came across some other startling discoveries. A few years ago while my father was seriously ill, I was away from home and during that time my PS+ subscription expired albeit briefly. What I – and many others like myself found – was that even a gap of a couple of days meant that previous PS+ titles were lost permanently but only for the PS3 and PS Vita.

PS4 games were restored once subscriptions were reactivated, but anyone who allowed their subscriptions to lapse, even for a single day, lost access to all of thier Vita games and from that point needed to purchase them if they wanted to play them again. It’s proved to be very costly for those who decided to make the move to other consoles after the Vita instead of staying with PlayStation just to keep their existing collection intact.

Lost Purchases

The loss of PlayStation Plus games would be bad enough, but that wasn’t the worst discovery I made while researching the Cross Buy list. As I was checking titles to see if the Cross Buy support was intact and making sure that games hadn’t been delisted, I found a large number of my own digital collection were showing up as being available to purchase instead of offering them for download! While one or two of these were titles where I had received complimentary codes from publishers for review, the rest were games I had purchased over the years as a Vita owner.

Having spent thousands of pounds on my digital PS Vita collection (spanning PS Vita, PlayStation Mobile, PSOne, PSP and Minis) the thought of losing even a percentage of these filled me with dread. In the same way that my PlayStation Mobile collection is locked to my PS Vita and PSTV (so a breakdown of both systems would result in a loss of almost 500 titles), at first this seemed devastating…

Momentary Relief

Fortunately, I was able to recover the “lost” games I had identified, finding them in my download list. Although as this has no search function and approaching 20 years worth of entries dating back to the PS3, finding individual games in there is a nightmare. My concern is that this is going to affect countless other Vita owners finding that their purchases have been lost and they are no longer available to download and do require a fresh purchase.

Genuine Frustration

Undertandably, at this point it’s clear that PS Vita owners are starting to feel abandoned and tossed aside by Sony. If many of us are being left in the position of having to buy games a second time that we already own, just how many are really willing to do so? And frankly, for those who have spent significant sums on PlayStation Plus memberships, should gamers really be penalised when they want to continue to pay Sony for new membership subscriptions?

The Future…

As an individual, I will continue to champion the remaining digitial titles that are still available to buy from the PlayStation Store, especially as it means that we can continue to support those developers who took the time to support the Vita when others quickly gave up on the system. But with Sony making it increasingly difficult to buy the games we still want to (not to mention developers themselves delisting their own games) there will come a time when the only options available to PS Vita owners will be expensive physical copies on the collectors market or piracy.

With only a small percentage of the Vita’s library getting physical releases (and many of those being extremely rare limited edition titles), it won’t be long before we start to see PS Vita games start to rise in price again. While the market did dip slightly, as more and more titles are delisted, we could see this trend reverse dramatically.

Are we heading towards the inevitable closure of the PS Vita’s storefront in the next 1-2 years? Quite possibly and if that does happen, then piracy and homebrew will become the norm for Vita collecting rather than the exception.

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About Simon Plumbe 1078 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