With E3 2017 just around the corner, major game companies have been busy prepping and teasing some of the announcements they have in store. While the thought of new games stirs great excitement for gamers, companies must also look at the business end of things. Sony has their hands tied with their upcoming titles on the PS4 like The Last of Us Part II, God of War, and Spiderman among other things. Wth the PS4 being their solid moneymaker at the moment, do they still have the chance to focus on Vita at E3?
Before delving any further, it’s always best to take a look back on just what exactly happened to the system. The PS Vita gathered a lot of hype back during its reveal in 2011 as fans were eager to see the successor of the iconic PSP. Sony decided to make some major changes for the handheld that embraced what modern technology had to offer back at the time. The Vita contained features such as the highly-requested dual analog sticks for better handling, a 5-inch OLED touchscreen that was supposedly catered for smartphone users, and a read touchpad for more innovative controls. Combine this with the fact that it contains a pretty good amount of power, some may argue that it might have been too advanced for its time.
Powerful hardware doesn’t come at a cheap price and Sony’s handheld was no exception. The standard version costed a whopping $250 while the less-popular 3G compatible edition was initially sold at $300. While this might have been an acceptable price for the power it came with, it was still too steep for most consumers to take the plunge. It is also worth mentioning the proprietary memory cards that sold for around three or four more times than the average cards in the market.
While the Vita has become iconic for being a niche and indie machine, one major deal breaker for the system was that most of its games didn’t really click with most players. Moreover, fans were promised games that felt and played like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, but its other “AAA” titles didn’t really seem to deliver the same amount of quality. The system may have had some celebrated titles like Persona 4 Golden and Gravity Rush, but the library just had too few reasons for players to take the leap and buy the system. Fast forward to today and mobile gaming has taken over a good chunk of the handheld market which proved to be a threat to the Vita and 3DS.
The handheld has been getting a good case of the silent treatment over the past few E3’s and it seems like Sony doesn’t have any plans of blowing it up like they did in the past. Take note that E3 usually caters to the Western audience more than anything else. Since Sony claimed that the system no longer appeals to that specific market, the upcoming event doesn’t seem like the best place for them to make any major announcements for the handheld. If anything, Tokyo Game Show (TGS) would be a much better occasion for Sony to showcase the Vita.
At this point, the system seems to be is in a pretty “safe” spot where it is right now. It’s already been past its “never say die” moment in the West and the unit we have right now might be as far as it will ever go. That isn’t to say that it’s a completely bad thing as being able to play selected PS1 games and other indie titles on the go is still a unique experience on its own. The Nintendo Switch has yet to bust out the Virtual Console and is still slowly rolling out the indie games so the Vita still has the upper hand in that regard.
With that in mind, Sony should instead focus on expanding the handheld’s strength by releasing more PS1 and PSP games on the PlayStation Store. They could release a sizzle reel of newly added games from those platforms running on a Vita screen at the end of their E3 presentation and fans would be more than happy to have titles like Crisis Core or Star Ocean 2 on their handheld. This wouldn’t even take up five minutes of Sony’s time on the stage, giving them more than enough allowance to promote their new games on the PS4.
Despite being named after the Latin word for “life,” the Vita has reached its dying days in the West. The system might have seen some better days if it was handled in a different way. Nobody knows what Sony has planned for the Vita (if anything at all) at E3 2017, but it certainly won’t be the star of the show.