Concept Playman console from Curved Labs
So, the PS Vita 2 didn’t materialize at E3 2017 this year as rumored, and hopes that Sony will one day release a brand new handheld are dying as quickly as the support that was given to its ill-fated device.
Support from developers outside of Japan and some indie studios has all but dried up, and Sony’s Shawn Layden put the final nail in Vita’s coffin in an interview with TIME magazine recently.
"To be honest, the Vita just didn’t reach critical mass in the US or Western Europe," he said.
"I don’t know if it was that it was more technology people had to carry around, or more things to charge, or whether their phone or tablet were taking care of that. But once the content slowed in that pipeline, it became hard to keep the Vita as a going concern."
There was a big rumor going around that Sony was poised to announce a handheld successor to the PS Vita at E3 2017 to compete with Nintendo Switch.
The rumors stemmed from Chinese games media, who have apparently received an “invite to a presentation of new hardware” at the Sony China office for a “world first presentation” of Sony’s latest device.* If true, this could also refer to a new PS4 console, which was rumoured earlier this year after DigiTimes reported that the Taiwanese tech sector could be releasing a new version of Sony’s console.
However, it became even more interesting that the focus could be on a new PlayStation handheld with another report hailing from the East, where the CEO of Square Enix, Yosuke Matsuda, recently mentioned the “PSP 3” according to a translation of an article on Hokanko.
We ran this through Google translate so really don’t understand the context, but there’s clear mention of a PSP 3.
“I also pay attention to Win 10 game mode and Google AR Tango on the PC, but the Nintendo Switch is drawing attention the most recently is only two new game platforms . Aside from the existence of PSP 3 (provisional) (this is abbreviation), there is a feeling that contents are properly facing properly as a whole.”
The interview was apparently taken from NikkeiBP. We’ve also ran this through Google translate and can’t find any reference to a PSP3 (so maybe something has been lost in translation here), but what he does definitely say is:
“In 2017, several new game platforms will come out. Also, Nintendo’s Switch, and Microsoft’s new home game machine "Project Scorpio (Sukorpio)" is finally coming out.”
Then there’s this PlayStation handheld patent from Sony, which clearly shows a handheld and certainly proves that the company was once drawing up plans.
What’s strange is that earlier this year, a concept image of the ‘Playman’, created by Curved Labs, surfaced online, showing a hybrid handheld console much like the Nintendo Switch, sparking rumors that Sony may be poised to announce PlayStation Vita 2 to the world.
That’s definitely not happening. PS Vita hasn’t exactly took the world by storm, and game developments has pretty much dried up from everyone aside from Japanese developers. Sony’s focus is on PS4, which is selling like crazy and beating off its Xbox One rival some months by triple the sales figures. Try and find a PS Vita unit in a store today and you’ll struggle. Demand has dropped rapidly and European game stores have spoken about no more units being shipped out, while rumors of production soon ceasing have gathered pace.
Sony stopped making games for Vita back in 2015 and many of the big publishers followed suit. Nevetheless, Sony’s handheld has featured some fantastic games, including Persona 4 Golden, Danganronpa 1&2 and Gravity Rush. The upcoming release schedule for Vita games is a sorry looking affair though, with a mere sprinkling of indie and Japanese studios adding feint hope that support will continue for a while longer.
So, Vita is offiically doomed and a successor now nothing but a dream for fans who enjoyed its many great games. However, PlayStation fans have a lot to look forward to. PS4 Pro has proved to be an incredible success, boosting the performance of PS4 games, and players have been inundated with some of the best PS4 games in recent years.
The next big step for Sony will be the PS5 release, which is rumored to be no earlier than 2020. Still, we can’t help but feel a little sad that our beloved PlayStation Vita was neglected so quickly after launch and never reached its huge potential. And, gutted that a successor is unlikely to ever be released.