This piece is half-news, half-editorial. As it´s usual with the week of CES, we´re getting bombarded with news from tech companies. While I was excitedly watching the AMD conference and talking to my friends afterwards about the monstruous 64-core/128-thread Threadripper 3990X CPU, Sony was organiing another party: one to celebrate 5 million PSVR units sold. But is this something to celebrate?
The truth is that Sony dropped support for the Vita long, long before devopers and users did. In fact, we´re still getting new Vita games. But Playstation decided to bet on PSVR, citing Vita as a commercial failure due to poor sales. But the Vita sold 16 million units as of 2018, while PSVR sold 5 million (less than a third) in the three years since its launch. Vita has one of the industry´s highest attach rates in history, and all kinds of games, from action to adventure, from RPG to online slots. On the other hand, PSVR´s attach rate is quite low, and game availability is limited. I took to Twitter to see what the general public thought of Sony´s policy:
In other words, they are celebrating only one-third of all-time PS Vita sales (16 million as of 2018).
All this while the Vita has one of the highest attach rates in history. PSVR does not. @Vita_Player
— Marcos Codas (@MarcosCodas) January 7, 2020
As you can see, the observation took off almost immediately, with people somewhat divided on what it meant for Sony to be making this announcement. Some Vita fans declared that Sony dropped the ball on supporting the Vita:
Exactly. Sony simply doesn't understand the US market. The handheld market here is not the same as in the east. If they had more support it would be at least competitive with PSP sales numbers.
— Anthony Valentin (@nytonyv) January 7, 2020
While others supported Sony´s decision and quoted differences in the product between Vita and PSVR as the reasoning behind the differential treatment:
I'm glad Sony is trying to go the distance with PSVR. As much as I love the Vita, I believe that PSVR and VR in general is the most important evolution of video games since disc based media.
— TooTallTony (@TTTFTD) January 7, 2020
It’s almost as if with PSVR Sony are trying to help create a completely new VR market from a standing start and with Vita they were trying to sell into a massive existing handheld market. Context is key. https://t.co/dWgb20MC6C
— Laurie (@TheEggman64) January 7, 2020
And here´s the thing: I do understand that VR is a new market. But the Switch Lite shows that there´s demand for a well-executed portable gaming experience. And Sony was way too quick to drop the Vita. Needless to say, I´m happy that history isn´t repeating itself. I am glad that Playstation seems to be backing PSVR despite moderate sales. I´m just sad that this same treatment didn´t apply to the Vita, because I think the hardware is, even to this day, very capable, and the audience the Vita does have is as enthusiastic as any other.