At this years Electronic Entertainment Expo, we got a clear picture into the future of Sony's console gaming initiative. Sadly, just like in 2013, PS Vita had an obvious lack of presence and it honestly felt as though it was given the wave of dismissal by Sony. It meant owners of the handheld were left wondering what the future was for their $200 machine.
To recap the conference, PS Vita had only two points of inclusion in the entirety of the show. One was during a Free2Play game reel that hinted at PS Vita versions. The other was a quick name drop of Tales of Hearts R, Child of Light, Tales from the Borderlands, and Minecraft. All fine in their own right, but mere ports and smartphone style games.
President of Sony's Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida has since spoken to several media outlets following the E3 conference. In most every interview the question came up as to why Sony chose to neglect their handheld console. While most of the response was the usual fluff about wanting to spotlight their new console, at one point he did mention that First Party development would no longer be their focus for PS Vita.
Instead Sony's new initiative for PS Vita is to focus on supporting it with Playstation Now, Remote Play, and Cross-Buy functionality. They will instead be leaving all game development for the platform up to third-party and indie developers. When asked for clarification, it was solidified that there would be less First Party support moving forward. However we can still expect big titles like Freedom Wars, Oreshika, and Gravity Rush 2 that are still in the pipeline.
Then there's the case of the other big disappointment for many PS Vita owners out there. In many consumer's eyes, PS Vita TV was supposed to be the PS Vita saver. A way to get tons of cheap hardware into homes and thus boost the appeal to publishers for the PS Vita platform. However when Sony finally announced its arrival to the west, it was with the name PlayStation TV. Completely disassociating itself with the PS Vita brand. Is this a sign of Sony dropping PS Vita completely?
At first glance, this seems like the case. However when we take a step back and examine the business side of everything, it makes perfect sense. Let's face the facts, PS Vita doesn't have much of a market share, so when the heads at Sony discussed bringing over this device, they probably felt it better to associate the device with the entire PlayStation ecosystem.
I'm not sure about your local electronic department, but at mine we have 2-3 PS Vita titles all alone on a single shelf. I'd imagine they didn't want to sell a new piece of hardware with the that small game library nearby. While this device is technically a PS Vita in a box with no screen, similar to the PS Vita itself, it plays so much more than just PS Vita game. It plays PS1 Classic, PSP, PSMini, and soon PS Now.
So why bring this up? Well, it's an obvious concern in the community of PS Vita. People feel betrayed and isolated by a simple name change. At first I will admit that I felt the same way, however in the end it can still benefit PS Vita more than harm it. If we manage to get a large adoption, it means that publishers can sell a game to a larger audience.
The bad news for PS Vita TV is the simple fact that it isn't selling well in Japan, so it's not likely to do any different in the North American and European market. There's just too many devices out there for media streaming, and even with the thousands of games at launch for the device, people still don't see it as a viable console. Even with the $99 price tag. Maybe it's simply just the odd bubble user interface that isn't fit for controllers, or the overpriced memory cards.
Don't throw your PS Vita away just yet however. While Sony seems to be dropping the ball, there are still many companies in line to support it. Though the weight of this proposition solely rests upon your taste. We already know that if you're into indies, PS Vita has weekly releases to fit your need. The other support comes directly from Japan.
With the PSP now officially discontinued and no longer shipping, and the rise of the PS Vita in Japan, Japanese developers are on board more than ever. As to if we'll see most of these titles remains to be seen, but it has been promising as of late. From inside and outside of E3, we've recently seen quite a slew of great titles coming to the west. Hatsune Miku Project DIVA f 2nd, Disgaea 4, Arcana Heart 3, Danganronpa 2, Senran Kagura, and more are on their way.
No matter how you slice the cake, there's quite a bit to discuss and think about regarding Sony's 8th Gen handheld. Even with its large attachment rate for software, the sales are still trying to pick up. With that comes the typical hesitation for developers to invest in it. There's rumors that with the recent PS Vita Slim's release, the PS Vita has seen a soaring in sales in the West just as it did in Japan. Perhaps in a few months, this concern could turn out to be comical. Until then, the PS Vita still has plenty to offer and remains a great handheld to own. Perhaps one day Sony will remember our twin stick handheld friend.