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PS Vita

Ciao, Vita

Yesterday I packed my PS Vita back into its original box and shipped it off to some guy in Texas that Bought it Now for $200 on eBay. Before that, I wiped the memory, flushing away Persona 3 and a couple of other games along with save data for others that I’ll never finish. I kind of grimaced, holding it for the last time because it’s such a damn good handheld, probably the best I’ve ever seen. Probably the last one I’ll ever own.I loved my Vita. Every game I had for it was outstanding. It played beautifully and it looked great. But the reality of it is that it was already starting to gather dust and the only non-launch day game I even played for it was Gravity Rush. That was an awesome game, at least until I simply got bored with it and moved on, filing its completion away for a later date that will never come. I thought I’d stick around to see how LittleBigPlanet 2, the Assassin’s Creed thing, and Soul Sacrifice would turn out. But other than those games, I found myself wondering what in the hell I would play on it six months from now. And after the Tokyo Game Show and Sony’s demonstration of continued half-assed support of the device, I decided to bail.

The problem is that you’ve got a handheld that’s selling like complete crap pretty much everywhere, which means that few- if any- developers are going to want to sink any money into developing for it. There’s no ROI there.  And when Sony can’t even give the damn thing a vote of confidence by actually, you know, supporting it with software other than ports and PSOne classic compatibility why should they?

I wanted the Vita to succeed, but let’s be frank. It’s a sinking ship. And it’s not like the PS3 where it was just a matter of time before the system would get some momentum and the must-have titles would start appearing. The PS3 was not an endangered species when it hit the market. The reality of it is that those evil, wicked casual gamers who are proclaiming the death of the dedicated handheld are right.

You can beat your chest all day long about how IOS and Android games are somehow not “real” because they don’t have a d-pad or physical buttons, but the fact of the matter is that no- it really doesn’t make sense to buy a $40 game for a handheld when you can play a totally kick ass game like Super Hexagon or Hunters 2 for a buck on your phone or tablet. More and more, the anti-mobile gaming contingent is sounding more and more like those “Disco Sucks” guys in the 1970s that were upset that Chic was outselling Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. 

There’s a cultural shift that the Vita is sort of straddling, and it’s really just a matter of time before it falls through the cracks like a Beta cassette player. It would be different if Sony were actually making the device attractive with must-have software and putting it in direct competition with the iPhone and iPad market. But they’re not.  Instead, they’re saying “look guys- Uncharted on the go! The magic of technology!” And then asking for $250. You’d think the success of Nintendo’s 3DS price drop would have at least sent a message.

Sure, they did the same thing with the PSP and to some extent the PS3. But time is not on the Vita’s side, and unless the system sells like hotcakes in its first holiday season (spoiler- it won’t), it’s on a slow, sad train to Doomsville. And I’m getting off. Ciao, Vita.

Michael Barnes

Games writer Michael Barnes is a co-founder of as well as His trolling has been published on the Web and in print in at least two languages and in three countries. His special ability is to cheese off nerds using the power of the Internet and his deep, dark secret is that he's actually terrible at games. Before you ask, no, the avatar is not him. It's Mark E. Smith of The Fall.

27 thoughts on “Ciao, Vita

  1. Hm. I’m in the same boat you are. The last full game I played was Gravity Rush. I tried LBP out, but it wasn’t my thing. The next game I see myself playing on it is Sly Cooper and that’s not until February. Eight months between games, one of which I can just play on the PS3? Yeah, doesn’t seem like a platform with legs.

    I’m starting to think that I should cut my losses and get out while the getting’s good.

    1. See, that’s what I’m thinking. I’d rather get $200 for it now than $100 for it six months from now.

      Every game that’s worth playing on it is available on PS3, practically. Gravity Rush is the only exception.

      I already traded all the games toward the big fall games. Their values are plummeting as we speak.

  2. I’m hanging around until we see what PS+ nets us. Considering that I’ve passed on Gravity Rush for the time being (I know, I know, but I’ve got a backlog of PSP games I’m working through) this might work out in my favor.

    That and Persona 4 is keeping me around. Come Christmas, though, I might unload the thing. Even for $150.

    1. Yeah, I really wanted to play that too but there again…I ain’t keeping a dying system around just for that. It’s not like there’s not a bunch of other games coming out to play.

      The PSP thing was nice and I was enjoying getting into some JRPGs I missed…but I enjoy $200 more.

  3. Gravity Rush was awesome and it wasn’t by far the last game I played on my Vita. After that I picked up Sound Shapes which was everything a vita title should be. Inventive, fun, easy to pick up anytime, endless content thanks to an easy to use level creation tool. You can create levels based around music you compose on the thing or create the levels and let the music just be what it is. Since you can’t choose a note outside of the main scales they use it will still work.. sort of. In any case it’s a great game and the community is really putting together some great levels and personally I think Becks album on there is his best work in years.

    Now I’m playing LBP and it is the best that game has ever been. The touch mechanics work brilliantly in it and the potential for nerds to make more levels is really quite high. I still pick up virtual pinball machines that are re-creations of classic tables (Pinball Arcade … great game).

    I’m still pumped for Soul Sacrifice which hopefully is soon, I’m definitely getting that Assassins Creed title (but that one I’m worried might actually suck). In short… I hardly touch my ipad and haven’t turned my Xbox on in months. Vita is my life right now (see what I did there?) and I couldn’t be happier. I still play older games on there too. I hadn’t played Metal Gear Solid so the re-release of those is great for me and I play Mortal Kombat almost every day at work since four of us have Vita’s on shift we are constantly fighting each other.

    Yes, new games don’t come out every other week, it’s not going to be good for new game junkies but for the casual gamer this thing rocks and I could care less if I play an iPad game again or ever even look at virtual controls.

    It’s too bad you gave up on it.

    1. But the problem is that the trickle of games is going to make it where sooner rather than later there isn’t going to be ANY games on it at all. The last time I looked at the Playstation store, there were no new demos and no new downloadable games…other than a couple of things you can get elsewhere like Wizorb. Gravity Rush remains the ONLY Vita game worth mentioning that offers you something you can not get elsewhere, better and for less money. I mean, I loved FIFA and Blazblue…but really, why am I playing those games on a $250 handheld…sitting on a couch in front of a 42″ TV and a PS3? Maybe if I were on a train 45 minutes a day or something it would be different. Or if I had three other buddies playing Mk- that sounds awesome, but not my situation.

      The problem is that I had really hoped that developers would see the potential of the platform and do some really awesome stuff with it- unique games that used the features. But you’ve got to have developers willing to invest in it, and if the company that makes it really doesn’t give two shits about it, there’s barely anything out for it, and it’s failing both in sales and in popular opinion then that never materializes. Like I said, Gravity Rush is the ONLY game that offers what I think is a Vita-specific experience and that ran out of novelty halfway through before it turned into just another open world adventure game. I haven’t played LBP, but I’m not convinced it offers anything more than LBP2 on PS3.

      So instead of these clever, cool, innovative games…a new Lumines, a new Wipeout, spinoffs of big franchise games, ports of IOS games that cost as much as FORTY TIMES what their iPhone versions cost, old PSP games…the Black Ops II coming for it is already getting trounced in previews, and it was supposed to be the “mobile Call of Duty” that could have been a system seller. But they let the clowns that did that terrible Resistance game for the Vita handle it.

      JJ, I hear you on all of this and if you’ll recall I was a huge cheerleader of this game (and Gravity Rush)…but at the end of the day, it’s just not going to ever reach its potential. It’ll probably stumble on for another year before just falling off the face of the earth.

      As for Soul Sacrifice…one of the three or four announcements regarding the Vita at the Tokyo Game Show was that it has been delayed to March. Wah wah.

  4. I like disco.

    Handheld is shifting, sadly. I had hoped it wouldn’t, but it has.

    I don’t care for mobile games at all, but I am content to leave this world as old-school as I entered it.

    I have my 3DS and it is a functional doorstop at this point. I still maintain they made handhelds too damn powerful.

    I will get my money out of the 3DS because it’s backwards compatible, has Pushmo, and I am a total whore for Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright. But it was a disposable income purchase even more than my regular systems.

    1. I love good, quality disco. Chic is totally bad ass.

      The 3DS and the Vita really are this format’s last stand. We won’t see more. The 3DS is doing well, but it’s really on Nintendo’s brand strength and the past success of the DS line more than anything else. It definitely ain’t on the back of 3D. I actually sold my 3DS not that long ago as well. There were some good and even great games for it…but there’s only so many hours in the day. Can’t play ’em all.

      The thing is, what a “mobile game” means is shifting too. I mean, you’ve got full DS games on there now. You’ve got full PC wargames starting to turn up. You can play damn Magic: The Gathering on there. Or you can buy a $40 port of last year’s PS3/360 sports or fighting game.

  5. The hardware is awesome. Not perfect, but worth the money IMO.

    The software here (even sans games) is the killer loss here. Way back in the day (when MSCE matter as a credential), I used to run a computer repair shop & I would tell my patrons that they are my “clients”, not just “customers”. This is where Sony failed with the Vita (and lessor extent PSP, ironically from pirated endeavors).

    The Vita/PSP should be treated as a companion device in the truest sense. Indistinguishable (software license/ownership wise) between platforms. Nintendo did this back in the day (GBA/Cube) poorly and they are doing it again (WiiU) poorly, but I think Sony is in a better position to leverage it’s catalog because Nintendo doesn’t. When you have a walled off garden (like Apple) all the tools in the shed better fit, and with Apple they do. Sony doesn’t get it & of all companies (Japanese), they should know there isn’t enough affordable land to have multiple gardens.

    1. That’s 100% the case- the software is the problem. There are very few games available- or even soon to be available or even announced- that aren’t ports or spin-offs. Which is to say that pretty close to no one is developing specifically for this platform. Which in turn means that the multiple strengths and qualities of this great piece of hardware aren’t going to be leveraged to their potential.

      No smart developer would invest a single dollar into developing for a more or less DOA platform. I hate to say DOA, but there it is.

  6. I can’t remember a single platform that has had a line-up of titles to satisfy my interest a mere seven months after launch.

    We do this dance with every new platform. When the PS3 came out, it took a whopping six months before people proclaimed it dead. Hell, the thing wasn’t even on my radar until the $100 price drop on first gen systems.

    1. We’re past launch, and the games are not materializing. There is apparently barely any interest in developing for the hardware.

      There’s a big difference between looking at a
      boat and saying “that’ll never sail” and saying that about a leaky canoe with a broken paddle and a blind old man sitting in it.

  7. I learned my lesson last generation. There aren’t enough games on a mobile system to make it worth the cost of entry for me. Most of the games I played on the PSP were re-releases of games I played on the Playstation. The DS was slightly better but only because of 2D Castlevania.

  8. Between MLB, Hot Shots Golf and Zen Pinball I still play the heck out of it. With real progress being made in cracking the system I’m pumped to turn the Vita into another amazing emulator! Honestly I’m looking to buy another one, but I can totally see how it’s a dead system for some.

    1. Yea, HSG was great…I’ll probably get the port for PS3. I’m actually kind of Zen Pinballed out. I don’t care for bowling games

  9. I consider new hardware purchases as a sunk cost – I’m not really expecting to make the money back, so much as I offload things when they’re officially taking up space to no purpose. As such, my Vita will leave the house only when my wife stops thinking it’s cool.

    But these last few years, in handhelds (and gaming generally), have taught me paranoia about the industry. Yes, people make games to make money, and I’m not wringing my hands over that, per se. But I’ve got zero trust in my heart for any new game or system, until I see what the balance is between cash grab and actual game.

    So the Vita didn’t sour me on the Vita, but it *did* convince me that I don’t need either a WiiU, PS4 or an XBox720 until six months after they launch.

    1. Oh sure, you’re not making your money back on it. It’s investment toward…uh…having fun. But i’m just like you, if something is sitting around gathering dust…goodbye. It’s why I sell so many board games. If it’s not on my forever shelf, it’s more or less for sale. My forever shelf has about 30 games on it.

      I’m a launch person…I like to get in on the ground floor of something. I like the “newness” of things and seeing what works. I actually feel pretty good about the Wii U, although the proof will be if third party developers step up and design specfically for that pad or not. If they don’t, it’s another Wii situation. That means if Nintendo doesn’t pick up the slack with absolute must-have first party stuff, it’s DOA as far as I’m concerned. I’ll give it a shot, see where it goes. If it sits, I’ll sell it at a small loss and be happy that I had some fun with it. Like the Vita.

      1. I clearly *was* a launch person. But I’m just losing my faith in a company’s ability to stick it out on anything weird.

        The Move is a prime example – “just like the Wiimote, but BETTER!” Except that doing anything new and inventive with the thing will require innovation and experimentation that Sony doesn’t have the money – or, therefore, the will – to implement properly.

        I got a couple on sale after I got to meet some of the guys from Media Molecule, right before the LBP2 Move Pack came out. Mm was interested in the peripheral, interested in doing motion control right. Then the pack came out and Sony made no attempt to lower the Move’s price. So instead of revitalizing the controller’s popularity, Sony was obviously just interested in moving a few of the dusty units off the shelf at full price, before cutting their losses.

        On the board games note: I’m getting towards a forever shelf. A game doesn’t just have to be fun for the buyer, but it also needs the right group, doesn’t it? I’d love more day-long-slog games, but who would I play it with?

  10. I’m plugging my ears and saying la-la-la-la to all portents of Vita doom, and hoping vanity on Sony’s part keeps it somewhat viable no matter the losses. It’s my dream machine, perfectly tailored for urban commuting, pooping, and constant interruptions. I even finished Peace Walker now that I have a right thumbstick.

  11. I can see what you say, but to me, iphones and other phones will never replace my handhelds. An iphone is waaaay more expensive than a 3ds and Im a grumpy guy that doesn’t like to have my email everywhere thhat i go(plus i hate hate hate phone contracts…never again)

    Also, i admit that since I’m a pokefan, i will go where pokemon goes

    1. It’s not that they “replace” a handheld, it’s that mobiles take up enough of the available market that it’s no longer profitable to produce a handheld.

      At least that’s what the perception seems to be.

      1. That’s a great point. A phone is something that most people feel they *need* to have, and those phones just happen to have cheap-assed games you can play while waiting for a movie to start. Unless you have a one-hour train ride daily, do you *need* a handheld? And doesn’t a laptop already fill that gap?

        1. It does not make sense to have a dedicated handheld in a culture where mobile devices capable of playing “real” video games exist. It’s a purely luxury item that is a unitasker, and is therefore completely expendable and replaceable. Obsolete. It’s not 1992, and there are many more options to distract you from a 15 minute train ride other than a Gameboy.

          If I can have a device in my pocket at all times- that I need for business and personal reasons- that also playes “real” video games, then the handheld becomes nothing more than a novelty. And when that novelty wears off, you’ve got an expensive gadget with little to no actual utility unless there’s just some game you HAVE to play.

          Unfortunately Spuky1, you’re on the wrong side of culture on this one. But you are right, handhelds cost less than a phone. But they also offer exponentially less, and there again they’re purely luxury items.

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