We all knew that it was coming, but our friend 2 Old 4 Gaming reported on his YouTube Channel that the final PS Vita physical games are entering production in the East shortly and 2021 will see the end of cartridge games for the Vita. Production of games ended in the West back in 2019. After that point it was left to Japanese publishers and companies like Eastasiasoft to keep the physical side of Vita gaming alive.
The Final Games
As with production in the West, Vita cartridges needed to have their manufacturing slots booked well in advance. What that means is that games that have been produced in this final run were scheduled months or even years ago while in the early stages of development. While many of these upcoming titles won’t reach Eastasiasoft until they’re ready to go on sale or ship to customers, there’s a very strong chance now that games will arrive in bulk with the publisher and then be announced gradually over the remainder of the year. Certainly if they are to continue with their program of releasing two titles a month, there will need to be some pacing going forward.
This wouldn’t be an unusual approach. Limited Run Games did the same with their final titles. Infact they showcased many of these when they received a delivery of thousands of cartridges from Sony with releases that they intended to put on sale gradually over the course of a couple of years. In fact, they still haven’t released everything with one final title, Super Meat Boy, being held back.
Last Ever Vita Game?
There’s been no explanation from Limited Run Games as to the reasoning behind the delay for Super Meat Boy. But speculation is that they want to be the publisher of the last ever physical PS Vita game. But with Eastasiasoft keeping things close to their chest over their plans, we may not see Super Meat Boy for some time yet.
There’s no word on what games are due from them, how many or whether they will be holding some back until 2022. Another twist to the story is publisher Nicalis. They also have two physical games that they are holding back for release and have been doing so for some time. Occasional copies have leaked onto eBay of Sony proof copies, but other than that the final releases are sitting in the offices of Nicalis. Once again, it is believed that they too want to be known to release the final ever physical Vita game.
Supporting The Vita To The End
While these final Vita games have all been limited editions, they have one thing in common. They have all helped support smaller developers financially. I’ve talked about this elsewhere and the importance of physical releases to them. Many companies wouldn’t have been able to continue on the Vita had it not been for physical editions of their games. While these may have been more expensive than their digital counterparts, it’s guaranteed an extended life for the handheld.
More importantly, it has allowed some publishers to keep working on the Vita even when Sony has put obstacles in their way. Ratalaika Games ceased publishing games on the Vita back in 2020 after experiencing difficulties getting their Vita titles cleared through Sony’s QA teams who were focusing primarily on the PS4. By focusing on physical releases, their games only needed approval for a single territory and format and were more cost effective to clear. They’re not the only one to do so, but this route has brought more games to the Vita in the last 12 months that wouldn’t otherwise have happened.
It has to be said that fans of the PS Vita are as passionate as the online gaming community over at arbusers.com when talking about Orbit Exchange when it comes to the future of the Vita and it’s games. One question that has been asked repeatedly is what will happen once physical game production has ended completely.
Perhaps the retro gaming scene may be an indicator of the future of Vita gaming. Cartridge based consoles (and retro computers for that matter) are still seeing new physical games released. While original manufacturers aren’t producing games, technology has advanced to the point where small scale production has allowed for homebrew cartridges to be possible. Depending on the legal position with Sony, maybe this could be the way forward with new fan produced Vita games in years to come?
You can see the full video from 2 Old 4 Gaming below: