Rumours have been circling in the air like buzzards over the past months that the days of the PS Vita are numbered. It has already been taken out of circulation in Spain, and Sony will at some point – perhaps as soon as March of next year if the media reports are to be believed – cease production entirely.
The Vita is seen as a niche product that only appeals to a limited market, and it is easy to focus on the negatives. Sure, it does not have the child-friendly appeal of the Switch, but that is more down to a marketing strategy that seemed confused from the outset than anything else. Aside from that, though, it is the continuing growth of the smartphone sector that has had the most serious effect, as opposed to any inherent flaw in the Vita itself.
Smartphones cornering mobile gaming
Smartphone penetration rose to 85 percent of UK adults in 2017, and soon the cliché that “everyone’s got a smartphone” will be factually correct. For adult gamers who want to play online Bitcoin games, traditional casino games or get involved in mobile eSports and other social games, the smartphone is the tool of choice. That isn’t the fault of the PS Vita, it is aimed at different activities.
The problem is that adult gamers who want to pass the time on a train will probably do so on their smartphone, rather than carry yet another device with them on the daily commute. This is where the notion of the Vita being a “niche” product comes in – surplus to requirements for the average adult, and not as appealing as the Switch to the average child. That’s a shame, because it does what it does perfectly.
It’s more mobile
For those who do decide to use a handheld for gaming on the move, the Vita is the tool of choice. Look on the average commuter train, you will see dozens on their phones, a handful with Vitas and not a Switch in sight. That’s because the Vita really is designed for gaming on the go, whereas the Switch is unwieldly, both to carry and to play if you have limited elbow room.
It’s less likely to die on you
When the Vita came out, Sony promised three to five hours of battery life, and the evidence is that it’s consistently around that five hour mark. With a Switch, you will get four hours if you’re lucky, and half that if you are playing a game that puts more strain on the processor.
It’s the place to play the games we love
Sony have released some wonderful games over the years. Remember Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories? God of War? With the Vita, you can play anything from past PS generations without having to go near the sterile world of emulators. It’s really the Vita’s trump card, and Sony should have been shouting it from the rooftops from the start. If the Vita does disappear from the shelves next year, the world at large might barely notice, but those of us in the know will mourn its passing.