In February 2018, Sony announced that in 2019 it will be ending PlayStation Vita support with PlayStation Plus. For years, the PlayStation Plus subscription service provided free PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and PlayStation 4 games each month and these games are then available to subscribers for the duration of their subscription.
For many PS Vita players the PS Plus service was a fantastic way of getting access to new games for the powerful portable console. It made owning the console a more affordable way of gaming on the go than, for example, purchasing (rival handheld console) the Nintendo 3DS, where games are much more expensive and there is no monthly subscription service giving out freebies.
But while Sony’s decision to end support for the PlayStation Vita is disappointing, what does it actually mean for players who currently own the console and for those planning to purchase one in future?
Could Sales of the PS Vita Be Harmed by Lack of PS Plus Support?
At the time of writing this, approximately 16 million PS Vita consoles had been sold around the world, with games industry analysis site VGChartz also estimating that around 40 million games for the console had been sold.
Undoubtedly, one of the biggest draws to the console is the PlayStation Plus support. By paying around £50 each year, players get a feast of free games each month, which means that, for the cost of one game, players could gain access to at least 12 games in a year. Without these free games, the cost of owning a PS Vita and its games will increase, making potential players far less interested in owning the console.
There’s also the fact that PS Vita players will have to pay to play games they can play for free in an online casino. For example, the classic fighting game Street Fighter X Tekken was once offered as a PlayStation Plus game for PS Vita but moving forwards, players will have to turn to games such as the Street Fighter 2 slots to get their fill of the Capcom fighting franchise. Although PS Vita’s PS Plus racing games like ModNation Racers: Road Trip provide a high-octane thrill, slots such as Wacky Races can offer a replacement of sorts. This could cause a shift away from the PS Vita as a home of mobile gaming as gamers may consider other mobile platforms.
Future of the PS Vita
Sony’s decision to end PlayStation Plus support for the PS Vita could reflect a shift in strategy in how the company plans to sell (or not sell) the console in future. There have already been reports about the PS Vita being a boutique console that suits indie developers looking to appeal to a passionate fanbase eager to play new games.
With a lack of games available through PlayStation Plus, these dedicated indie teams will be able to find continued success on the platform, even as Sony opts not to support it.
The lack of support for the PS Vita is an unusual strategy that is unlikely to sell many consoles. But this doesn’t mean that the console cannot find success in other ways, meaning that fans will be able to keep finding something to love about the console, even if Sony isn’t interested.