In a message obtained yesterday by Kotaku, Sony announced that they are planning to discontinue production of physical games for the PlayStation Vita. This will not affect digital distribution, but this will mark the end of physical games for Sony’s second portable system.
A step towards retirement?
In their message to Kotaku, Sony stated that their American and European branches “…plan to end all Vita Gamecard production by the close of fiscal year 2018.” The message also states that all Vita product code requests be submitted by June 28, 2018, and final purchase orders be entered by February 15, 2019. Sony’s 2018 fiscal year ends March 31, 2019. A Sony spokesperson confirmed this in an email to Kotaku.
This feels like a move a long time coming for the Vita. Released in America back in 2012 as the successor to the PlayStation Portable, it resembles the PSP, but with two joysticks and touch controls on the back side. It launched with the slogan “console gaming on the go”, but it struggled to gain a strong market share. This was primarily due to the rise of mobile/tablet gaming and Nintendo introducing the highly-successful Nintendo 3DS into the market. Sony’s decision to only support their expensive proprietary memory cards boosted the system’s price and hurt the Vita’s popularity. This even wound up driving away support from some of the bigger developers. The Vita still managed to maintain a good deal of popularity in Japan, but the American and European branches more or less gave up on it after two years in the market.
The Vita is still home to many gems, including JRPGs, indie games, and niche Japanese titles. However, the Nintendo Switch’s huge popularity with indie developers may make the Vita’s remaining lifespan more difficult. Either way, this news is likely another nail in the Vita’s coffin. One which has been under construction for a long time.