The PlayStation Vita is a hugely underrated handheld system. It was dealt a bad hand, not receiving the public support or development resources to help it shine beyond a few worthwhile exceptions. Gravity Rush, Soul Sacrifice, and Persona 4 Golden are all absolute bangers, yet were buried inside a platform that few people were interested in despite the excellence residing at its core. Even today, it remains the best way to play certain games, although this won’t be the case for much longer.
Sony has confirmed after our initial report that the digital storefronts for PS3, PSP and PS Vita will be closing down this year, taking hundreds of exclusive games along with them. It’s a devastating blow to gaming preservation with all of these titles being inaccessible except for those who purchase them before the dreaded deadline. Much like PS3 and PSP, the Vita relies upon its online identity in so many significant ways. Without it, the platform is a mere spectre of what it used to be.
I bought a PS Vita after saving up some pennies from my first part-time job at a Chinese restaurant. It was the first console I bought for myself, feeling like a concrete achievement in its own right as I installed Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Lumines: Electronic Symphony. From then, it became immediately clear how important the PlayStation Store is for the Vita user. Upon signing up to the PlayStation Network you’re encouraged to hop on over there and have a browse, getting a feel for what kind of experiences the system has to offer.
This won’t be possible anymore. I suppose it isn’t the end of the world, given the Vita can no longer be purchased at retail, but for the legacy of PlayStation, it just feels like a catastrophic loss of digital brilliance. Resogun, Atelier, Frobisher Says and others are all digital exclusives, so will inevitably fall to the wayside in the years to come. These will be preserved in some manner, but if a re-release never occurs, such games will be lost forever on the Vita.
Sure, you can hunt down physical copies of certain games, but this is both overly expensive and inconvenient when compared to the alternative. I suppose one blessing is no longer having to purchase Sony’s stupidly overpriced proprietary memory cards to house our digital spoils. Seriously, what was up with those things? It was one of the many reasons why the Vita failed, implementing too many strange features and obtrusive ideas that it simply couldn’t compete with Nintendo’s offerings at the time.
Even with these shortcomings, it’s a console that still holds a special place in my heart. It became a system for niche JRPGs and experimental ideas Sony wasn’t willing to let grace its home consoles. There’s also remote play, a feature that was pushed heavily upon the PS4’s launch, but was quickly abandoned when it became clear that nobody cared in the slightest.
Many of its best games such as Gravity Rush and Persona 4 Golden have since been ported to newer, and more popular platforms. Moves like this show that Sony was aware of its library’s brilliance and how it was hamstrung by such a small user base. I don’t resent these moves, but it only further emphasises how little faith the company had in its own machine, willing to let it fade away into nothing instead of building on it. Passionate fan communities will continue to keep it alive, but the disappearance of the PlayStation Store remains a definitive nail in its coffin.
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Jade King is one of the Features Editors for TheGamer. Previously head of gaming content over at Trusted Reviews, she can be found talking about games, anime and retweeting Catradora fanart @KonaYMA6.
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