PS Vita production is set to end in Japan this week. The second portable PlayStation released in 2011 and was deemed a minor success among some fans but stiff competition from the Nintendo 3DS and several other issues kept the PS Vita as a niche device throughout its life.
The official PlayStation Japan (via Gamesindustry.biz) website for both currently available Vitas lists that new shipments will end “in the next few days.” Last September saw PlayStation Japan’s Hiroyuki Oda announce that production of the handheld would cease in Japan sometime in 2019. Earlier in 2018, Sony said it would end production of game carts in the U.S. and Europe on March 31, 2019. Japan has long been the only market where the PS Vita had any kind of success. In September, Oda also said that there were no plans for a handheld successor.
PS Vita production has long been on the precipice of termination, as the handheld failed to find footing upon release. The steep entry price, expensive flash memory cards, and small exclusive game library kept the Vita from competing with Nintendo’s 3DS. At the same time, smartphone gaming was on the rise and the idea of buying a dedicated handheld gaming device was harder for mainstream audiences to get behind.
The PlayStation Vita launched in Japan in December 2011, with a worldwide release in early 2012. The platform boasted impressive almost PS3-level graphics in games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, but its negatives outweighed the positives for many. Support for cross-play and cross-buy and PS4 remote play were enjoyable features but are rarely mentioned nowadays.
The PS Vita became a stronghold of niche games including visual novels and indie darlings. Nintendo’s Switch has since taken up the mantle of portable niche game device along with Nintendo’s first-party support. PS Vita production ending in its homeland signals the end of Sony’s handheld forays. The company launched the PlayStation Portable in 2004 as a competitor to the Nintendo DS. The PSP sold over 70 million units worldwide and paved the way for the PS Vita. The Switch has been called a successor to Sony’s handheld devices, as it brings console-style gaming on the go.