Drinkbox Studios recently released Severed, by most accounts a great game that very well could end up being the last of its kind on PlayStation Vita. While it would be easy to declare Severed as the point where the Vita figuratively dies, the truth is that the handheld has been “dead” for awhile, with Sony themselves referring to it as a legacy system. Whether you love the Vita or barely even remember that it exists, it’s hard to deny that the system has largely been a failure. Although the system has a small but passionate fanbase and still enjoys healthy support from third-party developers, Sony is essentially done with the Vita and at this point, there’s little reason to pick one up unless you’re a big fan of indie games. So how did we get to the point where arguably the best handheld gaming hardware of all time failed to make much of an impact on the gaming industry at large? Well, it’s a bit more complicated than just having more people playing games on their smartphones these days.
10. Shift in Mobile Gaming Market
If you were to ask Sony what the primary reason behind the Vita’s failure is, they would probably cite the rise of smartphones as the culprit. Shuhei Yoshida said as much last year when asked whether or not Sony would ever release a Vita successor, claiming that “the climate is not healthy for now because of the huge dominance of mobile gaming.” While the mobile gaming market isn’t the sole reason for the Vita’s lackluster reception (Nintendo’s 3DS did pretty well for itself in spite of competition from smartphones and tablets), it’s definitely one of the main reasons the Vita failed to make much of an impact.
Although the Vita still arguably offers a superior gaming experience thanks to the device’s physical controls and graphical capabilities (an advantage which admittedly has become less important since 2012), there just isn’t much need anymore for a dedicated handheld gaming device in a world where everyone already has a perfectly functional gaming machine in their pocket. People can only carry so many things around with them and there’s simply no way they’re going to choose the Vita over their phone. The Vita still has its place, but there just isn’t really a place for it anymore in a world awash with smartphones and tablets that can do pretty much the same thing and more.