It seems that the sad yet inevitable end of the physical PlayStation Vita game is upon us.
As reported by Kotaku, a Sony spokesperson has confirmed that physical PlayStation Vita card production will be coming to an end. Sony has told developers that American and European branches plan to end all Vita GameCard production by close of fiscal year 2018 (which ends on March 31, 2019), asking that all Vita product code requests be submitted by June 28, 2018, and that final purchase orders be entered by February 15, 2019.
The PlayStation Vita originally launched in Japan back in 2011, making its way to western shores later in 2012 with games such as Tearaway making use of all the handheld consoles unique features. Sales started strong and attracted high profile games such as Persona 4 Golden, LittleBigPlanet, Uncharted and Gravity Rush, however, momentum was soon lost against the increasing popularity in mobile and tablet gaming and Nintendo’s own portable console, the 3DS.
Support in the west has been upheld and had many successes with indie titles such as Hotline Miami and OlliOlli, whilst big companies slowly started to abandon the system altogether in favour of other platforms. In Japan, sales and development have still been going strong thanks to their preference of handheld gaming and support of JRPG and visual novel genres ongoing in development.
Indeed, the PlayStation Vita has only captivated a niche market of indie titles, JRPG’s and visual novels here in the west thanks to a few publishers supporting collectors and pushing localisations. Despite this, high prices for games and proprietary storage have made it an expensive and less attractive option for many gamers.
Whilst Sony says digital distribution will continue, this news will surely spell the mournful end for this portable game system unless digital and storage prices are cut.
I have long loved my PlayStation Vita to sate my Japanese JRPG and visual novel desires, and I am so thankful to all the publishers and developers who have continued to support this platform and localise these titles in the west. Whilst I hope that such titles will continue to be supported digitally, the recent news of the Otomate x Nintendo collaboration whilst exciting, could cast death on this consoles future forever.