In a series of press rounds Sony is conducting in anticipation for E3 next week, the PlayStation company has discussed everything from the PlayStation 4 Pro, Microsoft's Project Scorpio, and the Nintendo Switch. One topic that Sony hasn't been too keen on talking about is the PlayStation Vita, and it might have something to do with the conflicting message regarding the Sony portable and whether it's a viable platform or not.
One of the ongoing debates I have with friends is whether or not the Nintendo Switch is destined to be a PS Vita "2", and it appears I'm not the only one. Plenty of interviewers are asking Sony CEO Shawn Levy and PlayStation marketing head Jim Ryan about how they see the Nintendo Switch in relation to the Vita. And while Sony is trying to keep a positive spin on the subject, it's clear that the Vita is a bit of a sore subject. The statements regarding the Vita definitely don't help.
"Vita is still a viable platform," said Layden to The Verge "It's still my favorite portable," although he specifies that the Vita's future lies mostly in the Japanese and Asian market where the console still receives content. Jim Ryan on the other hand apparently winced in an interview with Polygon when asked if the Switch might spur on the development of an official PS Vita 2. "Vita just didn't reach that critical mass with the audience and thereby, the development community doesn't get behind it and thereby, the audience doesn't come, and it's a quick negative spiral effect."
The Vita was Sony's successor the PlayStation Portable (PSP) which was a huge success in Japan. The Vita came out in North America in 2012 and boasted better graphics, and over time could even act as a second screen to the PlayStation 3 and 4—almost like a Wii U tablet. However, sales never really took off and the console started to boast only specific genres like Monster Hunter-esque experiences or visual novel type games.
If you're curious, I'm of the mind that the Nintendo Switch and Vita 2 associations aren't entirely accurate mostly because of how vastly superior a portable experience is on the Switch than I've had on either the Vita or even the 3DS. Of course, third-party support is huge in whether or not the Switch is destined for Vita territory, and we'll have to wait until after E3 to see if the Switch can become a true crossover console with strong developer support from outside of Nintendo.