PlayStation’s red-headed stepchild.
Yesterday was a huge day for Sony and the PlayStation brand. After months of speculation, the company officially unveiled the PS4 Slim and the PS4 Pro, formally known as the Neo. While the Slim will be taking over as the standard for the PS4 family going forward, the Pro updates the console with 4K and HDR gaming capabilities, 4K media streaming, a larger hard drive, more power, and other technological goodies. It was certainly a good time to be a PlayStation fan.
Throughout the 45 minute or so presentation, we were treated to details concerning the two new hardware iterations. Specs and different resolution values were tossed about, release dates and pricing were all laid out. We even got some stunning footage of upcoming games running on the new hardware, which definitely dropped a few jaws. But there was one (perhaps not surprising) absence from the hardware lineup: the PS Vita.
The PS Vita has had an unfortunately rough time ever since its release. Sony has struggled to clearly convey the handheld console’s place in the current market, and eventually the system fell into being a sort of peripheral to the main experiences you have on your big screen. It’s a shame when you stop to consider how solid a platform the Vita truly is, sporting strong visuals, amazing RPGs, fun bite-sized titles, and all of the media options you’d expect in a home console. But the device never really picked up much momentum, and it’s been cast to the wayside by Sony and many fans alike.
You can pretty much start calling it a wrap for the PS Vita, but the PS4 Pro may prove it doesn’t have to stay that way. Imagine, for a minute, a PS Vita Pro offering top-notch handheld gameplay with improved graphics, better sound, more comfort, more memory (and cheaper memory cards too, please), and some amazing games lined up. This may sound far-fetched, but just a couple of years ago, Nintendo did essentially the same thing with their 3DS.
The “New” Nintendo 3DS took the tried and true handheld, just added some oomph and a small nub thumbstick, and opened up the doors for brand new experiences, even allowing Nintendo to leverage some upcoming exclusives to get the ball rolling.
Sony has a large library of classics, IP that fans have been dying for them to revisit. Sure, most would appreciate these appearances to reach the PlayStation 4, but throwing some select titles to a new PS Vita Pro could really make waves and help give the handheld some space in Sony’s lineup. The Vita also happens to be a great platform for classic-styled RPGs, adventure titles (the classic point and click kind), and puzzle games. Its large, tough screen and vivid display put it in a very good position to deliver those experiences in the best way possible.
There is a market for the PS Vita. A small one, yes, but one that can expand if potential consumers are given incentive to invest into the technology. Sony’s apparent apathy isn’t inspiring anyone to go nab the machine, and the slow drip-feed of worthwhile titles suffocated by a seemingly uncontrollable influx of bland indies aren’t helping out, either.
Unfortunately, Sony has yet to stand behind the device full-time, and until then a PS Vita Pro is doomed to fail even before it hits store shelves. On the one hand, many Vita owners love their portable PlayStation experience, but those fans feel burned by Sony’s neglect. That type of thing sticks with consumers when the next iteration rolls around.
So should the PS Vita be given a Pro reincarnation? Yes, but only if Sony can do this time what they failed to do in the past: support their handheld. Mobile gaming and the insane popularity of the 3DS proves that there is a market to tap into, it just needs the proper approach. It will be interesting to see what plans, if any, Sony may have for the Vita. After many promises to keep it in the PlayStation ecosystem, we can only wait to see what form that vow will take.