Sony’s global game development boss Shawn Layden discussed at length the state of their current hardware devices in an interview with Time Magazine. However, noticeably absent from the talk was the company’s second foray at the handheld console market, the PlayStation Vita. In relation with the huge success that Nintendo is finding with the Nintendo Switch, the interviewer asked Layden if they were seeing that as a sign that the handheld market could still represent a profitable venture for Sony, and the response pretty much put to rest any hopes for a Vita successor.
“To be honest, the Vita just didn’t reach critical mass in the U.S. or Western Europe,” Layden says. While he sees the handheld console as a viable device as a whole, the numbers just don’t add for developing a successor. To this day, the console still gets regular releases and new game announcements, but most of them are related to Japanese productions.
Layden considers that Nintendo has achieved with the Switch “definitely what that fanbase has been waiting for,” but at this point the console is more of a “complementary traveler” than a rival, as their sales information points that a good portion of buyers are two-console families.
Sony’s first handheld device, the PlayStation Portable, sold more than 80 million consoles worldwide. An impressive number nowadays, although it always played second to the numbers of Nintendo DS. The PlayStation Vita would arrive in 2011, improving the hardware features of its predecessor, including a second analog stick, and an OLED screen, but despite exclusive releases like Uncharted: The Golden Abyss, Tearaway, or Gravity Rush, the console never found a sizeable audience: “I don’t know if it was that it was more technology people had to carry around, or more things to charge, or whether their phone or tablet were taking care of that. But once the content slowed in that pipeline, it became hard to keep the Vita as a going concern.”
That should probably be the end on the ongoing speculation about a new Sony handheld, at least understood as an autonomus device with its own releases.