Is PS Vita better than Switch

When you hear about handhelds, you inevitably think of Nintendo first. Since the first one Game Boy the Japanese manufacturer is the epitome of portable joy of playing. While in the early days of the handheld that Sega Game Gear and the Atari Lynx were still able to stand up to some extent, there was no one afterwards who could even begin to be dangerous to Nintendo.

Until 2004 console-endurance rival Sony came around the corner with their PlayStation Portable. At that time the "Console War" was already burning, the fan war over which console is the better. With the PlayStation Portable there was finally competition in the handheld market. And Sony did extremely well.

While Nintendo with the Nintendo DS went creative ways, Sony focused more on performance and multimedia. You could not only play with it, but also look at photos and films, listen to music and surf the Internet. Sony was able to sell 81 million units from its debut. That is not close to the 154 million units of the Nintendo DS, but it is still considered to be the second-best-selling console in the world.

Then came the PlayStation Vita

The success of the PlayStation Portable naturally ensured that Sony wanted to build on it with a successor model. December 2011 the Playstation Vita in Japan, launched in February in Europe and the USA. Sony developed the PlayStation Vita from scratch and pushed the multimedia aspect again. There was a variant with a WiFi module and another that also had the 3G cellular standard. In doing so, Sony competed not only with Nintendo, but also with the smartphone and tablet market, which was booming at the time. There was even a remote play feature that could be used to stream games from the PlayStation to the PlayStation Vita. Due to the slight delay, remote play was only worthwhile for titles that did not require quick reactions.

The repetition of the success failed. Instead of the planned 10 million devices by March 2013, Sony only sold 4.5 million devices. In March 2019, Sony announced that it had stopped shipping and production of the PS Vita. At this point in time, the PS Vita departments in stores had long been empty or, as a rule, no longer existed.

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Put your head in the sand too soon

It's a pity. The Playstation Vita was such a beautiful piece of hardware that it set itself apart enough from Nintendo to have a raison d'être of its own. No second screen, no big touches, but more multimedia and an impressive graphics performance compared to the competition. The Vita also shone on the go exactly where Sony is ahead with its stationary consoles.

I see the problem with Vita in the fact that Sony has not tried hard enough to get its problem child back on the right track. Already at the E3 2013 the little brother was neglected. Sony could have done a lot by itself. Without real system sellers, there was simply no decisive reason for many to get the Playstation Vita. Nintendo did a much better job with numerous in-house developments for its handhelds. And the sales figures weren't really catastrophic either - even a bit ahead of those of Nintendo's also failed Wii U, which was nevertheless better maintained.

A little more edge and you could easily have differentiated yourself from the smartphone market. Sony has always been more geared towards core gamers, who have precious little knowledge of the gameplay of most mobile games. The core gamer prefers to enjoy his games stationary, but the success of the Playstation Portable shows that there is a sufficiently large niche.

Great games for the PlayStation Vita - but mostly just warmed up

Even if Sony didn't do it - I love my Vita and have a lot of great games for it. It's a shame that these are preferably ports for games Playstation 3 and 4 acts. But just as a fan of Japanese role-playing games, I have some real boards like Persona 4 or Final Fantasy 10 be allowed to play mobile. Also the Trails of Cold SteelSeries and the crazy tactic games of the Disgaea series I gambled with joy on my vita.

JRPGs are just great to play with on your daily commute. Even if you don't have a save point within reach, the stand-by mode does it - a clear advantage over the stationary console, where a game session always ends at the save point. If you pull Pokémonfrom, I definitely spent more time with my vita than with DS and 3DS together. And that although it was almost exclusively about ports.

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Had, had - end of the chain

I really wish Sony had shown a little more bite when it came to getting the Playstation Vita on the right track. The hardware was there and the target group could also have been known.

Yes, Nintendo brought 3D to the screen and some developers actually turned more towards smartphones. Nonetheless, Nintendo shows with the sales figures of its 3DS and 2DS which market potential handhelds still had at the time. A new version could also have tackled weaknesses that have often been criticized. A light-insensitive display or SD cards instead of the expensive format for memory cards could have made a big difference.

This task came too early for me. On the other hand, Sony kept his coma patient alive for a surprisingly long time. Even if at some point you could hardly buy games physically, there were still new titles from time to time and the Vita was even still being produced.

Sony Comeback in the Handheld Market?

Is there still hope of a comeback for Sony handhelds? This is unlikely for the time being. Last year, Senior Vice President Hiroyuki Oda told the Japanese magazine Famitsuthat there are currently no plans for a new handheld.

The handheld market is not getting any easier, since streaming services such as Google Stadia are in the starting blocks. With them, games for core gamers can be played on virtually any device. All calculations then take place in the cloud.

But as interesting as a service is that turns every device into a bag: It's different to own a handheld whose ergonomics are designed for gaming and whose games, in turn, are designed to operate the handheld. In addition, the expansion of mobile communications in Germany is inadequate and, at the latest in the subway, you still have problems with the transmission rate even in large cities.

Unfortunately, Sony is unlikely to try again and leave the field to Nintendo and streaming. It's really a shame, because despite the Nintendo Switch, the PlayStation Vita is still pulled out again and again.

Since the Vita is no longer manufactured, we recommend the Nintendo Switch instead (commission link)


Image by Aleks Dorohovic via Unsplash

Stefan Reismann

The internet is his home, the gaming world his living room. The multifunctional nerd trained as a programmer, but then mainly discovered the content side for himself. Now he writes for the Netzpiloten and also runs a Let's Play channel on which there is plenty of paddling.


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Tags: handheld, console, Playstation Vita, sony