A few months ago I wrote a piece that asked if the Vita was getting its second wind, and since then my thoughts have changed slightly on the system’s longer term prospects. The biggest thing prompting this change of perspective is of course the brand new Nintendo Switch and the success that system’s seen by marrying console and handheld gaming, something that the Vita attempted back in 2012, with less than stellar results. But now, with Nintendo seemingly finding the magic formula to getting console-level gaming working on the go, should Sony revisit the concept? Is the time right for a PlayStation Vita 2?
The very first thing to consider when it comes to a potential Vita 2 is what it will need to compete with the Switch. Obvious things like HD visuals, online gameplay and digital download options are a must, but the Switch, with its Joy-Con controllers offers something much more than that – out of the box multiplayer. This is one of Switch’s biggest advantages and one that Nintendo is all too happy to flaunt. For a PS Vita 2 to succeed, multiplayer, especially easy multiplayer is a must. Now I’m not saying that Sony should just copy the Joy-Con… concept but they do need something to counter the Switch’s edge in this regard since they have already proven (infamously) that a purely powerful handheld doesn’t have much appeal.
Then they have to counter Nintendo’s IP’s which… is easier said than done. One of the things that held the Vita back was how Sony essentially dropped first party support for the system after the initial run. With Nintendo’s primary focus being on the Switch you know they will be bringing their biggest games to that platform and Sony needs to do the same for the Vita 2 to be a success, the system simply won’t survive with the same diet of spin-offs and ports that the original Vita got. This is somewhat more complicated for Sony since the PlayStation 4 is their main platform and obviously development resources can’t be stretched too thing across two systems, but that ‘Sony’ quality needs to be there for the Vita 2.
Beyond first party support though we have the all important third party support. This is an element that can either make (Xbox 360) or break (Wii U) a console and one that a potential Vita 2 needs to absolutely knock out of the park in order to be successful. Currently the system is getting a fair bit of games, but mostly JRPGs and visual novels, which are definitely nice titles to have but cater to a very particular niche. The Vita 2 will need these but also shooters, action/adventures, platformers, sports games and more but to get these games, Sony will have to get third parties on board which means creating a system that, like the Switch, is easy to develop for, easy to port to and generally takes the hassle out of making games for the system.
But the last, and biggest question surrounding a PlayStation Vita 2 – will people care? Is the Nintendo Switch (and in some ways the 3DS) enough to satisfy the market’s demand for gaming on the go? Remember we still have to consider how mobile devices like smart phones and tablets play into the equation. Personally, I simply don’t have room to carry all these devices and have to choose which handheld I bring with me on a given day. Throwing one more into the mix might just lead to fatigue on the part of the consumer.
I don’t know if Sony will make or are planning on making a new handheld device but if they do it will be met by both excitement from the fans who loved the PSP and Vita but also by skepticism by those who bought a Vita and soon found it with no support and by those who already have a dedicated handheld gaming machine. One thing’s for certain though, their probably is no better time for Sony to dive back into handheld gaming. The market is abuzz with the Switch and 3DS making waves and game companies look for new avenues to get their game’s and IP’s into people’s hands and minds.