Nintendo and Steam’s success shows Sony was wrong to give up on handhelds


SONY’S last handheld console, the PlayStation Vita, was abandoned by the company shortly after it was released in 2012.

It had been a disappointing launch for the powerful portable, which contained hardware almost on par with Sony’s then current home console, the PS3.

The PlayStation Vita was Sony’s last portable.

There are a number of reasons the Vita failed to sell.

It used expensive memory cards, it had a higher selling price than the 3DS, and the more expensive 3G model was available when the cheaper Wi-Fi version sold out.

While the Vita had a semi-decent launch line-up including Wipeout 2048, and Uncharted Golden Abyss, but it didn’t have that must buy launch title.

The Nintendo Switch suffered from some of these issues. There was a shortage of the console at launch that meant many had to wait to purchase one.

It too had an expensive hardware issue. The Joy-Con needed replacing on 40% of consoles due to stick drift.

And it had very few games that were released with the console at launch.

However, Gravity Rush might be good, but it certainly isn’t Breath of the Wild.

While people complained that the Nintendo Switch launched with essentially one game, what a game that was.

But it wasn’t just Breath of the Wild’s excellence that allowed the Switch to sell.

The Steam Deck was announced and instantly had a year-long backlog of orders despite offering no new titles.

The reason why these two consoles succeeded is because people were and still are desperate for handhelds.

Most people live with others. Handhelds allow us to play the games we want while others watch TV. 

Handhelds allow us to be occupied while on transport, particularly on flights where phones don’t work.

They can be played away from home, and switched on for quick play while waiting for others.

In the modern world, handhelds offer more utility than ever before, and people are desperate from gaming on the go.

Sony never gave the Vita a chance. Those first disappointing sales were all it took for PlayStation to give up entirely.

The company withdrew first-party support. That BioShock sequel never came to light. And slowly services and support were shut down.

In contrast, Nintendo continued to produce amazing games for the Switch, and its popularity soared.

Sony is known for having some of the most advanced hardware, but the Steam Deck shows that’s still possible in a popular portable console.

There will likely never be another portable PlayStation console. While the company pivots to VR despite poor sales, we are only left to wonder what could have been.

Written by Georgina Young on behalf of GLHF.


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