Sony's Shuhei Yoshida: "The Climate is Not Healthy Right Now [for a New Sony Handheld]"

More evidence that a successor to the Vita probably isn't around the corner.

Analysis by Kat Bailey, .

If you were holding your breath for a follow-up to the PlayStation Vita, you might want to exhale now. Sony may yet make another handheld system, but it's unlikely to happen anytime soon. Or ever, if we're being honest with ourselves.

Asked by a fan whether Sony would make a successor to the Vita, Sony Computer Entertainment president of worldwide studios Shuhei Yoshida admitted that market conditions aren't favorable for a new dedicated handheld. "Touch-based games are fun - there are many games with really good design. But having sticks and buttons make things totally different. So I hope, like many of you, that this culture of playing portable games continues, but the climate is not healthy right now because of the huge dominance of mobile gaming."

Yoshida said that he was personally a "huge fan of the Vita," having also pushed for the development of the original PlayStation Portable. But he also admitted the question of a successor was a tough one: "People have mobile phones and it's so easy to play games on smartphones. And many games on smartphones are free, or free to start."

This won't come as a surprise to most gamers. The Nintendo 3DS has managed to keep rolling through 2015, with sales having increased by some 50 percent by July, but the Vita has struggled to build momentum ever since launch. It has had its moments - a small stream of Japanese RPGs and indie ports have endeared it to a cult following of gamers - but it has been off the mainstream radar for some time now.

Yoshida made his comments following an on-stage interview at EGX covering the past 20 years of the PlayStation's history, which touched on the development of the original PlayStation, his working relationship with Ken Kutaragi ("Ken is a really nice person now," Yoshida laughed), and the PlayStation 2's launch.

When the conversation turned to the original PlayStation Portable, Yoshida denied that its development was a risk for Sony, saying that he was one of the advocates for the handheld system. One point in its favor was that it would bridge the gap in the eventual transition to the PlayStation 3. When it finally came out, he said, "We were so excited to have a big LCD screen."

As Nintendo's strongest rival in the dedicated handheld space, Sony has had its share of success, with the PSP and to a lesser extent the Vita doing particularly well in Japan. But while Yoshida wouldn't outright say it, his comments imply that a successor is not in development, with the result being that Sony may be out of the dedicated handheld market sooner rather than later.

The Vita Keeps Chugging

For those who have stuck with the Vita, though, there's still plenty to like about Sony's rather underrated handheld. Persona 4 Golden, Gravity Rush, and Tearaway have all been very nice additions to the platform's library over the years, as have a raft of indie games.

The releases for Christmas 2015 include Persona 4: Dancing All Night, which Bob recently reviewed, and Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel - the sequel to the cult favorite RPG Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky. In Japan, the Vita continues to chug along, having become a popular alternative platform for some Japanese RPG developers.

If Sony is indeed ready to bow out of the dedicated handheld business, then Vita fans can at least take solace in the knowledge that the platform will probably keep going for at least a little while longer. And if you haven't picked up a Vita yet, there are more games for it than you think.

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Comments 17

  • Avatar for VotesForCows #1 VotesForCows 2 years ago
    Seemed inevitable. The Vita library is fantastic though. I don't like portabl systems, but am getting a lot of use from PSTV.
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  • Avatar for SuperShinobi #2 SuperShinobi 2 years ago
    Sony is just about to launch a new gaming platform - PSVR. It's a huge undertaking and has required many of their internal studios working on games for it. Even regardless of the climate for handhelds, the launch of PSVR alone means that they aren't going to be releasing another gaming platform anytime soon.

    Besides, there is no need for a Vita successor right now. Gaming consoles should have long lifecycles, they don't need to be constantly replaced like smartphones or PCs. Especially if - like the Vita - they aren't technologically outdated.

    Their focus is on PSVR now. The question of whether the Vita should get a successor will become timely again in a couple of years. I'm betting on a successor happening eventually, but not anytime soon.Edited 2 times. Last edited September 2015 by SuperShinobi
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  • Avatar for detten17 #3 detten17 2 years ago

    I got to be honest I don't think VR is going to blow up the way Sony wants it to. From an outside perspective, I'm a "hardcore" gamer, in the sense that I'm in tune with what's being released and am able to play regularly on the weekends. I'm not interested at all in VR, and I'm assuming that I'm the demographic for Sony, a male with disposable income that already has a PS4.

    Sucks about the Vita, I really enjoy mine, but here's hoping in a few years, 5-6, we get a successor, kinda like an NX but Sony's version.
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  • Avatar for SuperShinobi #4 SuperShinobi 2 years ago

    VR seems to be quite divisive and no one really knows how successful it will be. There's no shortage of articles arguing either for or against VR to be found on gaming and tech sites. And plenty of supporters and naysayers on the forums as well.

    I'm one of those who think that VR will be successful and I certainly hope so. It's a dream I've had ever since the '90s and I was one of those who bought a Sony Glasstron headset back in the '90s, and loved it.

    I would emphasize though that Oculus and Sony are in it for the long haul. The headsets that are launching in 2016 represent just the first iteration of this new tech. Even if the first VR headsets don't become an instant hit, there will be new and improved versions in the next couple of years, which may well get a better reception.Edited 2 times. Last edited September 2015 by SuperShinobi
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  • Avatar for ol\'dirty\'bus\'stop #5 ol\'dirty\'bus\'stop 2 years ago
    Vita's got some belting games, in particular you want to check out Demon Gaze and Operation Abyss. Both lovely little things.
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #6 Roto13 2 years ago
    He can say he's a big fan of the Vita, but he's supported it at all, so I find it hard to believe.
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  • Avatar for ping33 #7 ping33 2 years ago
    Living somewhere (London UK) with a legit public transit system and being in my late 30s with 1.5 children... I play my portable systems more (by orders of magnitude) than I do my PS4. I really like my 3DS but I LOVE my vita. my great white hope is that either:
    The NX is, as roumoured: a portable console with a removable interface that totally changes the market
    Fast broadband becomes dominent, we are always online (even in District line tunnels) and Sony eventually issues a Vita 3000 with 2 shoulder buttons and clickable sticks.

    TBH: I am not convinced that sony needs a Vita 2. I do think they could use a Vita 1.3 with PS2 emulation and 2x2 shoulder buttons though. if they did that they could make the modest hardware dev and production costs back with their insane PSN fees.
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  • Avatar for CK20XX #8 CK20XX 2 years ago
    Aw, come on. The difference between mobile and dedicated portable games is like the difference between Atari 2600 and NES games. Most mobile games are simple and toy-like to have as broad of an appeal as possible, but many, many people still want, or even prefer, meatier games you can really sink your teeth into, which you can only get on the Vita or 3DS. Heck, those machines also provide shelter from the free-to-play pandemic that's been poisoning the mobile well. Blaming the mobile market is just a poor excuse for not making a sincere effort.
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  • Avatar for Journeys #9 Journeys 2 years ago
    " a small stream of Japanese RPGs and indie ports have endeared it to a cult following of gamers - but it has been off the mainstream radar for some time now."

    I think this cult of gamers are the ones who will play games that go 20-400 hours long. Most gamers want 6-15 hours of game play. They want it on their nice big screen TV, ability for co-op/multiplayer, etc. Us Culties don't want to sit in front of TV that long. My Vita rarely leaves my house but is used in many rooms and outside that does not have a TV. To me its like playing a book with an interactive screen. Even if its not an RPG I feel this way. I play more Smash on my 3ds than the Wii-U.

    I do see why its ending. But like any good cult guy I am hording PSPs, Vitas, DS/3DS and lots of physical games and backing my digital games waiting for the end to come. :)
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  • Avatar for naazimeaala75 #10 naazimeaala75 2 years ago
    Pretty sad. This means Sony pulling out of handheld market? Was a huge fan of the PSP and while I haven't given proper TLC to Vita, it's still a neat little thing.

    As for VR, I really don't care for it and I really hope the future of gaming isn't hinged on VR!
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  • Avatar for Blackcompany #11 Blackcompany 2 years ago
    No one is spending money on handheld devices. We have tablets; this is where mobile gaming is going.
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  • Avatar for Namevah #12 Namevah 2 years ago
  • Avatar for Stealth20k #13 Stealth20k 2 years ago
    Good for Nintendo
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  • Avatar for himuradrew #14 himuradrew 2 years ago
    I love my PS Vita, not just for it's many games - but also for all of the functions I get to use it for. It's been my go-to system for playing my JRPGs and PS1/PSP classics. Plus it's so nice to lay back on the bed and play MGSV. :)

    I'd love to have Sony make another handheld - but this time, please think hard before you design one. ;)
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  • Avatar for chiptoon #15 chiptoon 2 years ago
    I love my Vita fro so many reasons. It really is a great device.

    Today I love it more than usual though because I am phenomenally ill and lying in bed, but that is not stopping me from playing Metal Gear!

    Remote Play ftw!
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #16 VotesForCows 2 years ago
    @photoboy I've just played approved games so far, but am planning to try the latest hack soon, see what I can get running. Would like a Vita ideally, but hard to justify when I'd only ever play it on my couch anyway!
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  • Avatar for jgoreham #17 jgoreham 2 years ago
    @VotesForCows I love my PSTV too.
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