May 22, 2022

Sony’s Store Decision is another kick in the teeth for PS Vita owners.

For its small but loyal fans, the PlayStation Vita was a fantastic device with a diverse library… well, not any more…

The PlayStation Vita, oh how we lament your sad fate. Especially now that Sony’s decision to close the Stores is another kick in the teeth for PS Vita owners. In case you hadn’t heard, as well closing the PS3 and PSP stores in July, the PlayStation Vita store will also close its virtual doors on August 27th 2021. It means that you will no longer be able to purchase any digital games beyond this date. Note that anything you have bought will still be available to download but that’s it.

It truly is the death knell for this brave little handheld. Released in late 2011 in Japan and 2012 in the West, it only managed life time sales of approx. 16 million. As a hardware unit, the console is rock solid. A great design, good controls, battery life and the ability to play some top quality titles. Still, not enought to make it a success. By 2019, Sony had stopped manufacturing hardware or carts and by 2020, had removed titles from its web store.

The plucky console that almost could…

This tragic tale of a great console becoming a footnote in console history is a long one and the causes much debated. It was expensive. It needed very expensive proprietary memory cards. Being so high spec’d, it wasn’t cheap to develop for (unlike the 3DS) and it now needed to compete with better and better smartphones. Poor marketing and a very quick abandonment by Sony when it came to first party titles. Take your pick.

Still, for those that did invest, the PlayStation Vita became a much loved piece of kit. What AAA games there were, were on the whole excellent. Games like Gravity Rush, Persona 4 Golden, Unit 13 and Tearaway were great. It sold pretty well in Japan and became a great place for some unique Japanese titles – especially visual novels which fared well in a portable setting. It also found a home with indie developers, with some great indie titles making its way (and selling well) on the device. To top it off, it was the one place where Sony actually SUPPORTED older games, with a neat library of PS1 and PSP titles being available on the digital store.

Obviously, gaming is an industry and a business. With a small install base and no doubt dwindling store sales, we can see why Sony has decided to close down the store. It probably doesn’t make much commercial sense. At the same time though, this really does kill the console moving forward.

A digital legacy for PS Vita owners

You see, we’d argue that the PlayStation Vita was one of the first consoles where the digital titles defined the console. Given the volume of sales, there is not a huge physical cart library. The prices of some of those titles have shot up given the rarity. Many eastern titles were not released in physical format at all. If you are a gaming enthusiast who wants to taste the best of what the Vita had to offer in 2021… well, you won’t be able to.

It’s a chilling sign of the future. Unlike the PS3 or PSP, where most titles were released physically, with the closure of the Vita storefront, the majority of the library is now consigned to history. It should also be noted that a lot of the quirks of the console make preservation even hard. The Vita has touch controls which means games can’t easily be ported over or even emulated (should you choose to). For a lot of the classic PS1 or PSP titles, there is no legal way of getting these games.

Not only that but there are still games being developed for the PS Vita. Yes, they are small indie games or ports, but they were still being planned over the coming months. They have been canned. What many doom mongers have now feared when it comes to digital titles is now true. As of the closure of the store front, many titles will now vanish from history.

Sony’s kick in the teeth for PS Vita owners

Unlike their main rivals at Xbox, Sony are disinterested in their gaming legacy outside of expensive remakes. We’d love it if PS Vita titles were ported to other consoles, or the PS Now streaming service. We wouldn’t hold our breath though. A console (that found a niche and a passionate fan base via its digital store) has now been reduced to a collectors machine with a library no longer available. For those of us who love their little Vita’s and use them regularly, this is the final kick in the teeth from Sony. RIP the Vita and it’s library.

Are you a PS Vita owner? Are you going on a last minute spending spree to get any titles you always wanted?


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