We’ve been hearing about how the Playstation Vita is dead since 2015. The PS4 released in 2013 and two years later, Sony’s handheld was nowhere to be seen in highlight reels and other promo material. It was all about Move, and then, PSVR. Once PSVR launched in 2016, Vita was truly kicked to the kerb. But only by Sony. Despite their best efforts, combined with the somber reportings of the general gaming media, the Vita has endured. But why? Here are the reasons why the Vita was never really dead. It has been alive and well all along.
We have reported before on how difficult it is for developers to release games on the Vita. Disappearing storefronts, getting ghosted during sales, reduced QA, the end of physical cartridge production, the list of hurdles developers need to overcome to publish on the Vita go on and on. This is further compounded by the apparent gamble one takes when publishing to Vita. Digital only titles have not made sense in a long time. Many saw the writing on the wall a long time ago. For example, most digital casinos never even bothered to make their sites Vita compliant. If I wanted to visit my favorite online establishment, for example, I’d have to visit toponlinecasinouk.co.uk on my PC or phone.
Do you know how little potential in digital titles must a platform have to not even entince the online casino industry? So, if the casinos don’t want to go in on it, what chance do indie developers have? But despite this, games for the Vita continue to be published to this day. Not only that, but there are still physical games coming, from amazing publishers like Eastasiasoft.
It takes a special kind of crazy to publish on the Vita, but we’re extremely fortunate to have just the right kind of developer working our our little handheld. To the Eastasiasoft, Ratalaika and Limited Run Games of the world: we salute you!
Another reason why the Vita was never really dead is the community. There is still a very passionate group of people, under the moniker of #VitaIsland, who support Vita and its games and developers. Vita physical games still sell out. People are still eager to ask for a Vita port of any particular new indie game.
It really does help that there’s nothing quite like the Vita on sale right now. You can play PS1, PSP, PS Mini, PSM (if you already have them downloaded) and PS Vita games all in a single device. That’s a back catalog of 25 years for you to take on the go. And that’s before we even get to the last thing that makes the Vita endure.
For every platform that comes out, a new community of modders, homebrew developers and hackers forms around it. The Vita has had a thriving homebrew community almost since day one, and despite Sony’s best efforts, you can still run homebrew applications on your Playstation Vita.
Legal grey areas aside, this opens up incredibly exciting opportunities for original and legal software to run. We recently interviewed VitaHEX, for example, a homebrew developer who has brought incredibly cool stuff to the Vita which would have never landed there without the possibility of running custom software.
Modding and homebrew allows for much more than piracy: software archivist are using these applications to ensure the preservation of software which would have otherwise been lost for a variety of reasons. There are people working on great custom hardware, even, including a docking station for the Vita, powered by a Raspberry Pi (more on this soon).