When the PlayStation TV was announced, this author was on holiday. It was poor editorial director Damien McFerran that was left to man the fort during an explosive Tokyo Game Show press conference, which also played host to the reveal of the PlayStation Vita Slim. It was big, big news at the time, with the microconsole in particular drawing plenty of plaudits.
In fact, so popular did the diminutive device prove that gaffer Andrew House was badgered about it in practically every interview afterwards. However, even at the time, the suit seemed to doubt whether the appliance could truly appeal to the worldwide market. "It will be a different road to market for the US and Europe than has been the case in Japan," he said in an interview with Eurogamer.net.
As it turns out, the road to market in Western territories amounted to dumping it on store shelves with very little fanfare. With key functionality absent – such as Netflix – and lackadaisical software support, it was damned to a future in bargain bins. But now that the platform holder's announced that it's ceasing to ship the unit in Japan, how did the minuscule machine go from hero to zero?
Much of the pre-release enthusiasm for the PlayStation TV centred on its ability to play Vita games on the big screen. Accessories like the Super Game Boy found an audience in years gone by because not everyone enjoys playing games on a handheld system, but with titles like Persona 4 Golden and Tearaway in its catalogue, the Vita has always had games that people want to play.
The idea of playing these on a HD television always seemed appealing, then, but few considered the practicalities of how this would work. The Vita is a format flush with touch interfaces and motion sensors; the majority of games designed for it were never going to work. And even when a game should have been compatible, the platform holder rarely bothered to whitelist it for use.
It's right there in the name: TV. But the PlayStation TV was a shoddy media device. The micro-console launched without Netflix, which comes pre-installed on most toasters these days. And without the most popular catch-up service on the web, there was no hope that the likes of BBC iPlayer, HBO Go, and Amazon Video would follow. No hope, no hope at all.
So, if the PlayStation TV couldn't play most Vita games and didn't have Netflix, then what actually could it do? Perhaps the biggest failing of the format was that it was everything and nothing at the same time. It could stream PS4 games via Remote Play, but it wasn't compatible with some PSone Classics. It had a web browser for YouTube, but it didn't have Netflix. It could play Killzone: Mercenary, but not Uncharted: Golden Abyss.
The crazy thing is that there are people out there who still use the PlayStation TV regularly because it fulfils their needs, but its use cases are so specific that those folk are few and far between. If the PS4 is a mass-market device designed for all ages and tastes, then the PlayStation TV appeals to such a teensy sub-set of the market that it may as well not exist.
At the end of the day, we doubt that Sony will be losing too much sleep over the PlayStation TV: it was an experiment designed mainly for Japan that briefly caught worldwide attention but failed to really sell. But what do you think went wrong with the device? Are you mourning its death? Change the channel in the comments section below.
Did you buy a PlayStation TV? (104 votes)
Yes, and I still use it regularly
I did, but I never use it anymore
No, but I was interested in it
Nope, it never appealed to me
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