Sony released a hell of a handheld when they released PlayStation Vita, and then they promptly left it to die. Not only have they been ignoring it (think about the marketing Vita or its games get, or how much focus the Vita gets at Sony’s E3 conferences, as an example), they also actively seem to be sabotaging it (multiple Sony in house teams have come out and openly said they will not develop for the Vita, such as Naughty Dog).
Apparently, Sony has more or less given up on the handheld, and they have resigned themselves to it being whatever indie and third party developers make of it. Speaking to Polygon, Sony’s Yoshida confirmed as much.
“When we launched PSP titles, a big talking point was PS2-quality games in your hands,” Yoshida said. “It was an amazing experience to play PS2-quality like Twisted Metal on your portable device. But as time went on and the PS3 launched and people started to see next-gen games, that PS2 quality was not enough. People’s expectations for the quality just moved on.
“So when we launched the Vita with Uncharted, it was amazing; PS3-like quality in your palm, but as time moved on, you are seeing PS4 quality and people’s expectations for the graphic fidelity has gone up.”
“It’s very fortunate that the indie boom happened and they are providing lots of great content to Vita,” he said. ” Gameplay, game mechanic wise, people want to spend 10 minutes, 15 minutes getting in and out. On Vita, it’s great with suspended functionality, so these indie games really great for that from a game design standpoint.
“Instead of watching big stories or cinematics, you can spend hours on Vita. So, I think that’s actually the biggest star to help provide great content to Vita going forward. And we continue to make games cross-platform games, especially on digital side.”
Of course, this doesn’t explain two things that Yoshida’s explanation neatly sidesteps- if people’s expectations are ‘console quality graphics,’ then how does Yoshida explain the success of Nintendo’s 3DS, and the games on it? Bear in mind graphics on the 3DS are Gamecube/Wii level, or a full two generations behind. Also, if Sony believes that Vita’s failure is down to increased expectations of graphical quality, why is it hedging its bets on indie games, that often look like NES and SNES games? That’s some inconsistent messaging right there.
At the very least, Yoshida said Sony will still support the Vita with first party software. I would say, yes, that’s correct,” he said, when asked a question about that.
What might have been a great handheld, and the first to give Nintendo’s unending reign over the handheld market a run for its money has been reduced to this, and it is rather sad to see, really.