The Playstation Vita: From Promise To Peripherals

The Playstation Vita: From Promise To Peripherals

The Playstation Vita is honestly one of the most curious products I’ve ever witness launch in the video game industry. After a decent marketing campaign, with various appearances across a number of events, the Vita launched. I purchased the system a day after it’s release, mostly as a ‘New job’ treat. The Vita instantly impressed me. The sleek design, the beautiful screen and visuals, the nifty bits and bobs, I loved it all. It remains as the best hand-held, at least technically, I’ve owned.

The problem is, the Vita never quite fulfilled it’s potential. The release calender of Vita games was often quiet, mostly populated by ports of games I’d already played. The likes of Rogue Legacy, Child of Light and Hotline Miami fitted the system perfectly. Even though the games were a good fit, it always felt like the Vita was missing it’s own unique library. As time went on, the system hosted more quality ports of games released on the consoles. It wasn’t a bad thing, far from it, but It never felt like a ‘big’ release for the Vita.

Buyers remorse never fully set in, mostly thanks to the likes of Persona 4: Golden,Gravity Rush and Wipeout. While Persona 4 was a re-release, it felt like a genuinely big deal for the Vita. Gravity Rush went mostly under the radar, but was a utter joy to play. The rare case of a Vita game making full use of the technology, Gravity Rush remains as a jewel in the Vita’s delicate crown.

To their credit, Sony tried to put some fire in the belly of the Vita by pumping it with more ‘western friendly’ games. Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified, Resistance: Burning Skies and Killzone: Mercenary all hit the system. Big name franchises with wide spread appeal in the West, it made perfect sense. The quality of the games ranged from decent, to utterly awful.

Resistance: Burning Skies, while not terrible, was a pretty basic experience. Flashes of promise were present, but these cases were few and far between. The controls and gameplay were adequate, but extremely standard. The overall experience felt uninspired and ultimately forgettable. Black Ops: Declassified was a huge failure, for a number of reasons. God awful AI, fiddly gameplay, dull visuals and a bare basic single player, all of it resulted in a truly vile experience.

Killzone: Mercenary was the game the Vita needed to prove it could handle first person shooters. Gameplay wise, Killzone nailed everything it needed to. With a experience that didn’t feel too different from what you’d expect to play on the consoles, Killzone: Mercenary was a true success. The whole first person shooter experiment seemingly ended with Killzone, while the game was the best shooter on the system, it’s poor sales resulted in the end of any potential follow up.

The Vita’s attempts to seduce the West with video games decreased over time. The system became the home of more quirky and Japanese titles. The Vita’s presence and relevance started to drop, Sony’s approach to Vita changed, with the system being touted for it’s features and remote play, rather than it’s own video games.

It’s weird how things turn out. When the Vita was nearing it’s launch, I recall a number of GAME stores hosting Vita booths. The booths were big, loud and proud, with a number of people buzzing around them. Fast forward to 2015, the booths are gone, but the Vita is still there. Sony’s little black beauty is still present and playable…as peripheral to the PS4. Neatly tucked under Sony’s latest machine, the Vita has found a home on the PS4 booth, as a third controller.


Sony’s decision to present the Vita in the retail space like this is not surprising, but it’s still a little bit sad. The Vita had all the power, all the features and all the promise to go onto great things. While the Vita still has it’s place in the industry, it’s no where near the place it could, and should, be in. Seemingly demoted to nothing but a PS4 accessory, the Vita will forever be the system that fell short of it’s potential.


Sean Halliday

1 Comment

  1. Truth
    February 20, 2015, 4:41 pm

    $0N¥ = lies and overhype that underdelivers.

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