The Time Is Right For a Vita Successor

It is going on four years since PlayStation released its flagship gaming system, the PS4. Since then, PlayStation has taken Sony back to dominating heights in the gaming industry. The console sits atop worldwide charts with many games in the works and a plethora of support from studios around the world. It’s fair to say, PS4 is king. But kings should never rule alone. 

In 2004, Sony released the PlayStation Portable (PSP). The PSP was a companion of sorts to the PS2 era of gaming – a time when Sony was again at the top of the hill. Although the handheld, a first for the company, gained great popularity and lived on through a portion of the PS3 era, it was eventually succeeded by the less popular PlayStation Vita in 2011. 

Vita, though seen in a positive light by critics and gamers around the world as a piece of hardware, did not fare as well as the PSP. The device, now discontinued in Western regions, barely saw four years on the market. It was marred by poor handling and support by PlayStation. But now that it has started to fade from people’s memory and the shelves of retailers, it’s about time for a new companion to the currently reigning king. 

With the PS4 cruising along with great support and a lineup of games that could carry it for the next two years and beyond, maybe Sony can shift focus a little bit back to a new handheld. Maybe it’s finally time to put those lessons learned to use. 

Rumors have surfaced of a PS5 in the works to be released in 2018. I find this highly unlikely as the PS4 is going as strong as ever and PlayStation has built a model for longevity. While I don’t doubt revisions and slight upgrades to the PS4 may be released, don’t hold your breath for a PS5 for a few more years. On the other hand, 2018 would be a great year for a new PlayStation handheld to be released. 

As Sony already has its PS4 and PS VR on the market, the next void to fill is the handheld market. Not expecting any other hardware releases from companies like Xbox or Nintendo who are getting their latest systems out of the way in 2017 with Scorpio and Switch, PlayStation can have 2018 all to itself with a brand new handheld. All eyes can be on a new handheld in 2018 as the hype from the competition will have calmed down at least by Summer 2018 and surely by Holiday 2018 – a great time for releasing a new handheld. 

As long as Sony listens to the fans, uses common sense, and learns from its mistakes with the Vita, a new handheld could take the company to even greater heights. What kind of handheld should it be? Well, to be quite frank, it doesn’t have to change much from the Vita. While I would definitely rebrand it so as to discard the stigmas associated with the Vita, keeping things like the touch screen, the game cartridges, analog sticks, buttons, cameras, and touch pad it currently has (while hopefully improved) would be advantageous. Making the system backwards compatible with Vita and PSN games (including PSP, PS One) would not hurt. An addition of triggers to the shoulder buttons a la Nintendo’s Switch (and the Vita trigger grip accessory), microSD cards (non proprietary memory), direct connection to TV’s (whether HDMI, Screen Cast, both or by other means), clickable analog sticks, better connectivity with the PS4, and future proofing for any other PlayStation console that might surface in a few years, could make the new handheld a force to be reckoned with. 

PlayStation should not be afraid to market the system to both kids and adults; not just one demographic. Take a page out of Nintendo’s very successful handheld book. While Sony might not have the household name IP’s like Nintendo, they could use other strategies that Nintendo has employed, which includes making kids a large target but not the only target. Market it as a handheld and not an accessory. And make sure it’s supported with first party games. 

With the Switch and 3DS on the market, Nintendo almost monopolizes the dedicated handheld gaming market. A little competition is always beneficial. I think if Sony takes the right steps, a new handheld, along with the PS4, in 2018 could take Sony back to the PSP/PS2 days and surpass even that success. 

So here’s hoping, Sony, release a successor to the Vita in 2018. I’m ready. 

  • JJ

    I would buy one and it ~may~ force Nintendo to actually try harder with with Switch and stop some of their asinine decisions.

    • G.

      I think both Sony and Nintendo need a wake up call respecting some of their devices. The competition and positive influences of each company on the other hopefully would breed a good ground for better devices, games, and marketing on both sides. One can only hope.

      • Quantity of Quality

        Sony is dead serious about mobile gaming now.
        They know that its the breeding ground for future serious hardcore console gamers that is supporting the PS4 right now.
        They are putting appetizer PlayStation games now on mobile gaming platforms.
        Instead of killing consoles mobile gaming is feeding it right now.
        What a symbiotic phenomenon!
        Now is the time to strike for Nintendo’s Switch and Sony’s PSP2.

  • Quantity of Quality

    You nailed it!
    “PlayStation should not be afraid to market the system to both kids and adults; not just one demographic. Take a page out of Nintendo’s very successful handheld book. While Sony might not have the household name IP’s like Nintendo, they could use other strategies that Nintendo has employed, which includes making kids a large target but not the only target. Market it as a handheld and not an accessory. And make sure it’s supported with first party games. ”

    The very stuff I kept telling Mr. Shuhei Yoshida -san.
    Sony should re-brand the PSp and PS Vita as a gaming platform for younger gamers primarily.
    Like a “junior” brand; more family friendly brand that will make it a little bit unique from PS4 or Nintendo.
    A platform for young PlayStationators.

    Thank you so much. What a fine piece of journalism.

    • G.

      While I don’t claim to be a journalist, I appreciate the sentiment!

      • Quantity of Quality

        I will treasure this article you wrote, mister writer.
        You have spoken for me. This article must reach Sony HQ asap. And I am sending this right now.

  • Quantity of Quality

    Nailed it again!
    “direct connection to TV’s (whether HDMI, Screen Cast, both or by other means), ”

    Very very important factor that prolonged the PSP’s life cycle to 10 years ever out living the DS line.

    • G.

      With devices like ChromeCast, built-in Screen Casting capabilities on TV’s, streaming devices, and more, I think a new handheld should at least have that built in. Since that isn’t a perfect technology and the quality can be greatly reduced depending on the devices and circumstances, I would also love the ability to have a direct connection via HDMI (maybe Micro to Full). PSP, as you mentioned, did this and it was a great feature.

      Sony tried to bring the Vita to the TV with Vita/PS TV but they executed that poorly. Nintendo has done a great job doing what PSP did – just in a more effectual way with the dock. If Sony had a dock, I’m all for it. Maybe we can even use a Dualshock 4. But a direct connection from the system itself would probably work better considering the type of controls needed for some Vita exclusive games.

      I think that would be a great selling point. It’s one reason why the Switch is so popular and why the PSP did well.

      Thanks for your input!

  • Quantity of Quality

    Let’s face it. Majority of adult gamers wanna game on a big TV not handhelds. Handhelds are for young gamers.

    • angh

      Dunno where you took ‘Majority’. As an adult gamer I love my vita, as it allows me to have a quick game while flying to customer, waiting for wife in shopping mall, and keeping (half) eye on kids. Probably DS is oriented more towards young audience, but on Vita I have a lot of mature games.

      • Quantity of Quality

        Nintendo targets kids.

    • GrimmyReaper

      Well that’s a stupid argument.

      The DS and 3DS are the most popular gaming systems ever. Mobile gaming (as much as I hate to admit it) is huge and brings in more revenue than all 3 consoles combined. Nintendo’s latest console is literally a handheld.

      And no. You can’t argue that audience is just kids. Kids buy them but so do adults. They are the ones with the money after all.

      • Quantity of Quality

        What is stupid about parents buying their kids handhelds gaming devices? Because that is the point of my comment. Handhelds are for kids.

        • GrimmyReaper

          Right but now you are missing the point.

          You said this
          “Handhelds are for young gamers.”

          That is a stupid argument because many adult gamers also play handhelds. The kids from 20 years ago grew up and many still play those franchises like Pokemon and what not.

          Saying this however
          “The life blood of Nintendo handhelds business.”

          is different and most likely true. Nintendo tries to focus mostly on young gamers. Doesn’t mean that only young gamers play on 3DS systems. See how that works?

          Just because a company is focusing on one audience, doesn’t mean that that one audience will buy their product.

          • Quantity of Quality

            Also parents (adults) buy for their kids not the other way around.

          • GrimmyReaper

            Ugh for the love of God. You are actually proving my point with the last statement and you don’t even realize it.

            If PARENTS buy it for their kids and KIDS in turn don’t buy it, then why would you exclude ADULTS from playing handhelds?

            Also, real original. “man-children”? What are you, 8? All of a sudden YOU decide how every single adult has to enjoy entertainment? If they like to play on a handheld, then they aren’t adults, they are “man-children” ?

            This discussion is over. You are clearly too arrogant to see how people can enjoy something you don’t. Yes, even if that means a company that makes said product focuses on a different demographic.

            Now look. It is virtually impossible to know how many adults play handhelds and how many kids but seeing how many are sold, how many games are bought, seeing E3, seeing how many talk about this stuff, talk about a favorite list on YouTube, some have thousands or millions of views, seeing how age has NOTHING to do with playing games, why is it so impossible and unacceptable for you to understand that yes. Adults play handhelds and they are better gamers than those playing on Mobile because at the very least, they aren’t allowing blatend HORRIBLE practices that we now have in games we pay 60 bucks for.

          • Quantity of Quality

            And please dont tell me more man-children play handhelds more than kids.

  • heavenshitman1

    “Making the system backwards compatible with Vita and PSN games (including PSP, PS One) would not hurt. An addition of triggers to the shoulder buttons a la Nintendo’s Switch (and the Vita trigger grip accessory), microSD cards (non proprietary memory), direct connection to TV’s (whether HDMI, Screen Cast, both or by other means), clickable analog sticks, better connectivity with the PS4, and future proofing for any other PlayStation”
    All ready for next year.

    Pfft, see, it’s all just that simple.

    Sometimes ppl make console RnD and production seem so easy.

    Like when Nintendo did the Switch, why didn’t they just pump it with extra horsepower, a bigger battery, 1080P screen, release with more big games and have a proper price of 250 max??

    • G.

      Research and development is a lengthy process and this article is assuming (hoping, rather) that Sony has already taken it upon themselves to develop such a device and has been doing so for at least two years. Most companies start R&D on new products almost immediately after the release of another. With what was suggested, it’s not far fetched.

      Mobile companies have new devices out every year with minor upgrades. Sony does the same with their phones, TV’s, Blu ray players, cameras, and other consumer products. New models replace others every year. While that’s not the case with dedicated gaming systems, the technical capability is there to develop a new system based off of a prior system with a degree of ease.

      All of the technical “specifications” of the handheld wished for in the article are things that have already been used in a previous handheld and have been on the consumer market in other devices for years. So it wouldn’t take that long to engineer a product off of those architectures and designs.

      More than anything, production, funds, and legal aspects are usually what hold everything up – all of which I have no knowledge of.

      With that said – on the note of the Switch – Nintendo is not one to create a handheld or portable device with power in that sense. So anyone holding out hope for a device like that hasn’t been around for the past two decades.

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