Sony has ceased production of physical Vita games, according to a report from Kotaku. This means that developers and publishers will no longer be able to create or ship new games on the system’s proprietary memory cards.
The production of new physical games will cease by the close of the 2018 fiscal year, according to unnamed sources, which will end on March 31, 2019. Sony had previously announced in February that Vita games would no longer be given out with PlayStation Plus after March of 2019 — which fits into the reported timeline. We’ve reached out to Sony for comment but have yet to hear back at the time of writing.
This isn’t shocking news, as the system rarely gets new titles and hasn’t been mentioned during Sony’s E3 presentations in some time. The company has all but admitted that the hardware can be chalked up as an interesting failure.
“For whatever reason, and there are a host of them, and there are even more reasons if we were drinking beer, Vita just didn’t reach that critical mass with the audience and thereby, the development community doesn’t get behind it and thereby, the audience doesn’t come, and it’s a quick negative spiral effect,” Sony Interactive Entertainment of America president Shawn Layden told Polygon in an interview last year.
Vita was supposed to be a portable that bridged the worlds between console-style and portable games when it launched across North America and Europe in 2012, and the hardware included helpful touches like a large, beautiful OLED screen alongside stranger additions like rear-facing touch pads and expensive proprietary storage. Instead, the Vita arrived feeling like an awkward combination of portable and console. The system never really took off, despite many big-name games coming to the system in its early days.
A large part of that was Sony’s failure to create a compelling identity for the handheld. Instead, it placed a weird focus on the systems’ gyro sensor, camera, and front and rear-facing touch capabilities, which often led to annoying features shoehorned into games that didn’t really need them. Does anyone else remember holding the Vita up to a light to reveal hidden messages on parchment in Uncharted: Golden Abyss?
Remote Play, which allows you to stream PlayStation 4 games on the Vita, has never been a huge selling point. Then there was the PlayStation TV, which was a version of the Vita that connected to the TV, turning the handheld into an underpowered console when compared to the PlayStation 4. The company stopped shipping the tiny console as early as 2015. Amid all these attempts at reinvention and expansion, none of them helped to sell the system in any great numbers.
The report suggests that you’ll still be able to buy games digitally, and Sony hasn’t announced anything about ceasing production of the hardware itself. But this news brings an already dormant system one step closer to its final rest. Indie games and Japanese RPGs will likely continue to come to the system in the near future — like the PlayStation Portable, Japanese audiences have been warmer to the Vita — but don’t expect much outside of those. Whatever hardware advantage the Vita used to have over mobile phones or other portable gaming systems has been erased by the immensely popular Nintendo Switch.