News Article

Sony: PlayStation Vita Is Proving to Be a Big Niche Device

Posted by Sammy Barker

Platform holder playing a different game

There’s no doubt that the PlayStation Vita has enjoyed an excellent start to 2014. However, the problem is that only engaged users are aware of that. Titles like Toukiden: The Age of Demons and Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc have proved hits around the office, while smaller exclusives such as OlliOlli and TxK have received plenty of playtime, too. With none of these releases belonging to big brands, though, is the struggling system’s future consigned to a tiny subset of hardcore gamers?

“[The] Vita is proving to be a big niche device,” the ever candid SCEUK overlord Fergal Gara told MCV. “Using the term ‘niche’ makes it sound tiny, but it’s not. The console is occupying an interesting space for interesting games built for more committed gamers. Yes, the market place for it isn’t as big as it might have been had smartphones not arrived, but it's still a more thorough, more complete experience. And it’s therefore appealing to people with a more eclectic taste in games.”

It’s a more than reasonable comment, but does that mean that we should give up hope on big-budget boxed games? “It would be fair to pick up that there wasn’t a second Call of Duty made specifically for the Vita,” continued Gara. “But what’s changed is that Call of Duty: Ghosts was available on the Vita via Remote Play on the PS4. And the Vita is sort of evolving as a platform.” If that’s the mentality within the firm, then we’d argue that it’s probably best to temper your expectations.

Still, that doesn’t mean that the company isn’t committed to bringing new content to the console, and that’s reinforced by the outstanding attach rate that the system commands. “That’s why we will continue to support it,” he added. “The device is loved, it has a place. Sure it’s not enormous, but there are green shoots that show its position in the market will be at least as big with the advent of the PS4.”

Despite this, though, the company doesn’t see the pocketable platform catching up to the Nintendo 3DS, which was the best-selling gaming gizmo in the UK last year. “We want to have a healthy share of that handheld market,” he concluded. “But we are playing fairly differently to the Nintendo 3DS, when you think that that is a dedicated handheld device with a very strong showing amongst kids. Vita is positioned differently.”

What do you make of the current state of Sony’s slender system? With titles such as Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster, Borderlands 2, and Invizimals: The Alliance on the way, it’s hardly all doom and gloom. But then again, we can’t imagine that any of these releases will move a significant number of units, meaning that the format will probably remain within its niche for the foreseeable future. Is there anything that the firm can do to reverse the unit's fortunes? Let us know in the comments section below.


User Comments (47)



rjejr said:

"big niche"

So people only play it while eating jumbo shrimp?

I do see the Vita doing ok this year, Sonys gaming division is doing well w/ the PS4 launch, and everybody already has a 3DS, tablet and smartphone. Gotta spend those discretionary $ on something.



fchinaski said:

I find it interesting that the 3DS had an absolutely amazing 2013 in terms of exclusives, but there are nowhere near as many good titles announced for 2014 yet, while the VITA is looking good this first semester when it comes to games. Let's see if it holds up from the second semester on.



Paranoimia said:

I'd consider myself a 'committed gamer', but it's getting a bit too 'niche' for me. Between the retro indie stuff and bizarre Japanese titles, there's virtually nothing coming to Vita that I'm interested in.

I love the system and have always defended it, but from what it promised to what we have, on this occasion I feel quite let down. I want the likes of Golden Abyss and Killzone Mercenary, but sadly it seems like such games will be very few and far between... if we get any more at all.



3rdEyeMind said:

I think the Vita is growing at a steady, healthy pace. The remote play feature will be it's biggest food. I remember my time Working at GAME and i merely mentioned to someone who had recently bought a PS4 that they might want to invest in a Vita for remote play (as he was complaining of his wife not letting him have the console in his private room). He was shocked that it did such a thing! He bought a Vita on the spot and furthermore, someone listening in asked me if what i said is true, i shown him in the promotional pictures that it was....again, in disbelief, he bought one on the spot as he had just recently got his PS4 as well.

Couple that with how good the console is as well, with all the great games, PSP backwards compatibility, cross-buy products and heavy indie support and you have what many consider to be the greatest handheld ever made.

The Vita will continue to grow.



fchinaski said:

@Paranoimia If I wasn't such a fool for indie stuff and bizarre japanese titles I would be disappointed as well. There's no doubt that the VITA took a completely different direction when compared to the way it was advertised in the beginning. It was pushed as a powerhouse built to match PS3's performance and visuals, but you can count on your fingers the titles that live up to this promise — and they are less still if you don't count direct ports. I'm quite happy with the way things are turning out, but I totally understand the dissapointment.



N711 said:

I think Vita will sell better now because of the PS4 but I can see why the 3DS is interesting for a wider population of any age



JavierYHL said:

yup i spent most of my gaming time on vita now,my next game would be destiny of spirits



alucard77 said:

@paranoimia i totally agree, as a previous psp owner from release day these type of games are lacking. I was hoping for so much more on PS3 remoteplay also, we can't all afford a PS4.



rastamadeus said:

Out of all my "committed gamer" friends none of then own or want a Vita. A few are interested for Persona 4 Golden but not enough to buy the machine. They all though have or want a 3/2DS, even though it's aimed at "kids." The "kids" cop out for Vita's failure is beyond tedious now. Look at Wii U, shouldn't that be a success if Nintendo and kids go hand in hand? Vita is reduced to being niche as Sony simply don't get the handheld market, keep confusing people with what the Vita is, lost Monster Hunter and are relying on indies keeping interest going and PS4 connectivity getting people's attention which it doesn't seem to be doing. Obviously this will never happen but I'd love to see what Nintendo would do with the Vita...



Sutorcen said:

Every month the same story. The state of the Vita. If you spent half the time writing about what's wrong with the PS4 than writing about the Vita, things would happen for the PS4. I am starting to get annoyed with all those "reports" about the state of the Vita every couple of weeks. Seriously leave the Vita alone FFS. It will find it's way without your "help". End of nagging.

What people don't seem to understand is that the Vita stands in a place all by itself. A space between mobile crappy games and heavy, time demanding AAA games. There isn't any other device than can bridge this gap. No the 3DS does not count as it neither has the power nor the maturity or the controls to do so. Vita is the perfect device for the non gamer and for people who want to play anywhere, always. Most of us own a home console and a PC, so feeling disappointed that you can't play the games you can play on your other platforms, is a bit ironic, if not a lie. People complaining about all the AAA ports prove this point. In this day and age where most IPs are released to almost every platform, do you really want to judge the Vita for lacking exclusive IPs? Sorry but we can't do that. Games that were Vita or Playstation exclusive turned up on Steam and mobiles and vice versa after a while. So the Vita has no exclusives and no AAA titles still (epic face palm) or so you say. So what? There are tons of games for someone to play on the Vita. The fact alone that when a games will be cross released on PS4/3 and the Vita and most people are excited about the Vita version, speaks tons. Sorry but for me this whole discussion is obsolete and I'm really starting to wonder with this obsession from the Push Square team. Just for 2014 I have already lost count of how many games will be released for the Vita, can't say the same for the PS4.

I wish Sony took the time to bring over some of the best iOS and Android games to the Vita. Then Vita would become the ultimate gaming machine. Imagine to be able to play, Threes, Clash of clans, PvZ 2, Oceanhorn, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Ridiculous Fishing, Shadowrun, Candy Crash Saga and the rest of King's games. Triple Town just to name a few. Best from three worlds, Home consoles, portable and mobile games, all on one device and with all the controls to boost. I can't thing of any other single device that can easily play Killzone, God Of War, indies, and mobile games with proper controls.

That's the beauty of the Vita, it can actually play everything.



NicolaHayden said:

I thought the Vita would follow the same path of the Vita but apparently this isn't so. The indie support and accessibility from the PS4 keeps hope alive for triple-A titles making an appearance.



Paranoimia said:

@fchinaski Just to be clear, I don't mean all indie games, just those that have the retro 80s style graphics... I grew up with every game looking that way, and it holds no appeal for me; it actively puts me off buying, no matter how good the game may be. I do have some indie stuff on my Vita.

But yes, you are right - Vita has gone off at a bit of a tangent. It's not that I have anything against the retro indie and Japanese stuff. It's obviously great for those like yourself who enjoy them, it's just that at the moment that seems to be all there is. For me, it needs balancing with bigger-budget Western style games like those I mentioned earlier, which as you rightly say is how it was initially sold to early adopters. If I wanted small bitesized games and odd Japanese stuff, I'd probably have bought a 3DS.

For me, with all the small retro indie games, the Vita currently (as I've said before) is a lot like using a high end PC to run a C64 emulator; it's cool if that's your thing, but it's also a waste of a powerful system, and you need some powerhouse titles to do it proper justice, let alone justify the cost.



AVahne said:

Just a bit of correction: Vita does not have backwards compatability. The PSP games you download off the store are running off an emulator.



fchinaski said:

@alucard77 Now that you've mentioned the PSP, one of the things that boggles me is the utter lack of support from SquareEnix, which seems more interested in developing for iOS and Android than bringing their IPs that were sucessful on the PSP to the VITA.



Bad-MuthaAdebisi said:

I'm happy with they way its going in terms of software, maybe a bit more variety say like the Dreamcast perhaps, more western RPGs and a few less ports from ps3 PSP, the games I love and am looking forward to are specifically made for vita so I can partly understand the niche label.Its in a class of its own so if you wanna call it niche then go ahead. For me its not doing much wrong, its just never going to have a sales explosion.



InsertNameHere said:

I just recently bought my Vita and I'm really enjoying it. I only have Killzone: Mercenary at the moment, but I'm still having trouble showing my Raven(PS3) some love, and it's only going to get worse once my Vita library starts building up.



Jo_Jo718 said:

I love my Vita, but I don't like a lot indie games, specially the 80's looking ones, and the uber-weird and underground japanese titles that seem to be taking over the console, I got it to play more stuff like Gravity Rush, Tearaway and Killzone Mercenary, Sony's pseudo-indies like Escape Plan, fully fledged indies like Guacamelee! and some titles from Square-Enix and Level 5, it's such a shame that they brought amazing titles like Dissidia and Jeanne D' Arc to the PSP, yet they have to do something for the vita, so it's pretty disheartening to hear what it's going to become of the Vita in these coming years for me.



Sutorcen said:

@Jo_Jo718 No one knows what it's going to happen to the Vita. One thing is for sure though, it's library is getting bigger year on year. We are three months in 2014 and already 40+ games have been announced and shown, most of them great games. I really don't see the Vita dying down soon. Its sales are growing steadily and eventually more companies will release their AAA IPs on it. It has always been like this. No to mention that Sony has a lot of room to sweeten the deal. Lowering the Vita's price and the price for the memory cards, plus a nice hardware upgrade (bigger battery and maybe more internal storage) and last but not least Playstation Now are all in the future of the PS Vita. So I personally see the Vita going way up before dying. Most importantly it has no competition. The DS is not it's competition, totally different product with different target group. It's like comparing a Ferrari with a Lexus. Both great, expensive cars but totally different performance, prestige and audience. It might not sell they way "reporters" want it to sell, because if you don't create intrigue and a rivalry, you don't get clicks on your website, but its course through this past two years has proven that the Vita is a damn good, sexy device and a gamers dream come true. Only thing missing are physical L2 and R2 triggers. Come on Sony... put those on the Vita 2.



Dodoo said:

@N711 - haha thanks buddy!

@Jo_Jo718 - keep the faith dude, I'm sure there'll be some good AAA titles on the way for Vita this year. I hope so at least!



bbq_boy said:

I luv my vita! With the PS3 and it's ps plus subscription I get at least 2 free top rated games every month. I normally don't buy indie but thanks to ps plus it's opened my eyes to some awesome games. Guacamelee, Sino Nora, stealth were excellent games that were free. And that lead me to buying hotline miami (amazingly hard but beat it and felt hard as nails afterwards!!! Lol). And there's so much top s*** still to play like need for speed, blazblue, dragons crown, y's 7 and celceta, killzone, final fantasy X hd, soul sacrifice and tons more!! Yes feel 2014 and beyond will be buzzing with great games. Just need a port of skyrim, fallout or mass effect or grand theft auto 5....plz



Jazzer94 said:

I really wish Sony would realise remote play is not a valid substitution for actual Vita games.



Zombie_Barioth said:

I'd say theres nothing wrong with being a "big niche" device, in fact if handled well it'd just be further proof you don't need to be the biggest fish to be successful.

There are plenty of people who will buy a console for just one particular game or series, even if they don't really like the hardware itself much. If Sony can be the go-to company for such games they can make up for being niche with the sum of the collective fanbases.



divinelite said:

I just confirmed my friend to buy vita
Well tell you the truth its so hard to do... And constantly I keep getting hard time to convince

Fortunately, I am able to say ffxhd and borderlands so that the convert is done. So, for us vita gamers niche and indie is enough, but for new player is not



ObviouslyAdachi said:

I love my Vita. I play handheld games way more than console games, maybe I'm just weird. Everyone is so skeptical about the Vita, and for no good reason. They just need to figure out how to make more people experience it, because virtually everyone that buys it falls in love with it. Also, I think that this new Vita Slim will only slow the sales rate, if anything. I mean who wants to look at that screen? And "longer battery?" Psh, I keep my Vitas brightness half way up and it lasts well over seven yours of regular use. Sony's estimates are very wrong. They're just hurting themselves, that's their biggest problem.



3rdEyeMind said:


Yes, i'm aware, but it was easier to put that than to explain that you can buy most of the back library from the PS Store.

For me, having been unable to get into the PSP, this was a great feature because i admired a lot of PSP games. I just couldn't get down with the PSPs screen, size and feel (lack of two analogue sticks being the biggest factor). Now, with my Vita offering me all those PSP games, i feel as though my Vita now has an extra few hundred games to it's library! Also, my display picture here is of a game called "Legend Of Heroes: Trails In The Sky", a PSP game i discovered through the Vita that has quickly become one of my fave RPGS of recent times.

So that's my point about this feature the Vita has being quite a big factor for it.



Jo_Jo718 said:

@Dodoo @Sutorcen
I hope so too! so I'll wait for E3 and Gamescom, which hopefully will have a handful of dol.. err i mean neat surprises for the Vita!



Gamer83 said:


3DS doesn't really pick up until May, but it's got a couple big hitters on the second of that month in Kirby: Triple Deluxe and Mario Golf. Also, if it stays on track for this year, there won't be a better game on handheld systems than Super Smash Bros. Vita has stuff I'm looking forward to as well though. Mainly Borderlands 2 and MLB The Show. I'm hoping for Gravity Rush 2 this year, we'll see if that happens.



KelticDevil said:

Overcharging for memory cards is insulting and ridiculous. Also, I am so tired of the indie gaming fad & have never been a fan of weird, quirky Japanese games. All of this adds up to a no purchase for me. Don't get me wrong, I am sure it is a great system for some people, but it needs some good AAA games to survive & I am sure more people would be interested in the system if it delivered the games more people want.



Gamer83 said:


Been saying for a while it needs games like GTA, MGS, even Final Fantasy and Resident Evil, but it's unfortunately just not going to happen.



larry_koopa said:

I picked up a Vita last weekend and I absolutely love it. Lumines, Tearaway, and Dragon's Crown are more than enough to keep me happy for a while, plus I downloaded Final Fantasy IX for the girlfriend. Everybody's happy here at least



ToddlerNaruto said:

Sadly there are only 9 PSVita games that I'd want to play currently, so I'll probably be waiting a few years before I get a PSVita.

My PSVita Games Wish List:
Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus
Unit 13
Gravity Rush
Persona 4 Golden
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus
Soul Sacrifice
Ys: Memories of Celceta
Toukiden: The Age of Demons



ToddlerNaruto said:

@Dodoo I already tried out gameplay videos for both titles and disliked them, which is why they aren't on my list.

Trust me I have looked into ALL PSVita games (that have American versions, I refuse to import), and only those 9 interest me, nothing else.



Punished_Boss_84 said:

Thats one of the most bull**** excuses for neglecting and relegating a platform to a niche/accessory platform and failing to providing any worthwhile exclusives for this year or the next: they are just sitting on their laurels hoping something big will happen. That whole interview regarding PS Vita was downright pathetic.

“It would be fair to pick up that there wasn’t a second Call of Duty made specifically for the Vita,”
And whose fault was that, no really why? Sales according to VGchartz were good better than the Wii U ports? So i dunno whats going on there.

“But what’s changed is that Call of Duty: Ghosts was available on the Vita via Remote Play on the PS4. And the Vita is sort of evolving as a platform.”
That always is and always will be a bull**** cop-out for not making native games. PS Vita will continuing failing (outside of Japan) if someone doesn't get their house in order, commit to the platform or discontinue it, its that simple.

“That’s why we will continue to support it,”
Thats laughable old ports, indies etc, isn't good enough: sales figures for PS Vita prove that and 3DS sales prove that a handheld is still there and yes kids may be the majority of that audience but adults also revel somewhere. There is no support, just in a land filled with negligence: its inexcusable.



Sutorcen said:

I know a niche place on mr. Gara's body to stick the Vita, maybe then will he stop talking trash about his company's own product. Seriously, just go play cricket or something and leave the comments and the interviews to someone who has an idea aboutnwhat he is talking about.



ToddlerNaruto said:

@Dodoo I've never played a Persona or Megami Tensei game before, P4: Golden will be my first one.

There are other PSVita games I want besides those 9 games, but they're all available on the PS3/PS4, and those versions will always be superior.



Jorzha said:

I like the vita. i like it for the same reason i like the ps3. there are so many great rpg's on the system. oh and i also liked gravity rush. pretty good game.

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