Sony just put the final nail in the coffin of its least successful video game console

PlayStation Vita announcement, 2011

AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye

Former Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCE) Group CEO Andrew House, left, and SCE Japan President Hiroshi Kawano debuted the PlayStation Vita during a press conference in Tokyo on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011.

  • Sony has officially discontinued production of the PlayStation Vita, the least successful of its video game consoles.
  • The Vita launched in December 2011 as a successor to the PlayStation Portable, but failed to catch on with gamers or as a portable media device.
  • The handheld console's quiet demise isn't shocking; Sony announced that it would be winding down Vita production back in September, and it has no future plans for another portable console.

The PlayStation Vita is officially a thing of the past; Polygon reports that Sony has discontinued the last two active product numbers for the handheld video game console, meaning no more Vitas will be produced.

The Vita had a tough and largely forgettable seven-year life span as the successor to the PlayStation Portable (PSP), and never really found its place in a world that was quickly adopting smartphones. While the PlayStation Vita offered a healthy selection of games and made notable improvements on the media features of the PSP, it couldn't keep up with the rapidly improving app-based experiences of iPhones and Android devices.
With both the Vita and the PlayStation Portable, Sony made the mistake of trying to shrink an at-home entertainment experience onto a portable. When used as media players, the Vita and PSP were mediocre at best, and as smartphones became more ever present, Sony's handhelds lagged behind other devices in utility.

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For gamers, the Vita failed to provide the sort of innovation that players found in Nintendo's more popular handhelds, the DS and the 3DS. Despite launching with much weaker hardware than the Vita, the 3DS's large library and innovative use of dual screen technology captivated adults and children alike.

Whereas Sony's most impressive Vita games still feel like a downgraded version of a PlayStation 3 game, the 3DS has games that feel unique to the platform. The Vita did benefit from a boom in indie titles that were published on the PlayStation Network, and plenty of players were willing to invest in a Vita to enjoy their favorite niche games on the go.

The Vita's quiet demise isn't a shock; Sony said in September 2018 that it would wind down production on the Vita. The company has no plans for a successor to the Vita either, according to Sony Interactive Entertainment senior vice President Hiroyuki Oda. Sony's PlayStation 4 is the most popular console of the current generation, with more than 91 million units sold worldwide.Sony is ending a deal for Vita-loyalists on the PlayStation Network this week. PlayStation Plus subscribers have been getting free games for Vita, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4 for years, but Sony will drop Vita and PlayStation 3 from that program tomorrow.

While Sony has made it clear that they don't want to pursue another portable console, the success of the Nintendo Switch shows that there is still interest in a well-executed handheld. Unlike the Vita however, the Switch is almost exclusively for playing games. It doesn't have Netflix, or connect to bluetooth headphones, or play mp3 files. It just plays games, which might be all a portable video game console really needs to do these days.