Friday, February 22, 2019

Happy 7th Birthday Vita, how to survive the coming apocalypse

So, the Vita made it seven years old in the US and Europe, and still hasn't been officially killed off, yet. Seven years with no true updates to a mobile chipset is proof of the engineering prowess of Sony's wizards, and the company's complete inability to market it.

But, mostly this year, thanks goes to the small band of developers and publishers that keep the release list ticking over! So much love and respect.

So, while we can, let's celebrate many people's first exposure to an OLED screen and a battery that still soldiers on, making other devices look rather feeble. Who needs HD when 960 by 544 pixels is good enough. My launch model is still going strong with vivid colour and hours of play! And for that I'm truly grateful, along with unique imagination-busting experiences like Tearaway.

Bonus point in you know where the "7" comes from! (not a Vita game) 
This is also the last official birthday as Sony Japan has moved the execution closer, but is still only saying "soon" for an end to production. Oddly enough, that piece of news caused way more stories than this birthday.

The big questions Sony needs to answer:

Once the candles on the cake are blown out, the hangover really is the end for the Vita. A sturdy piece of hardware with eight years of punching way above its modest weight. Soon newly made Vita hardware, consoles, memory cards and accessories will get scarce.

Prices will only go up, and people are already wondering how to protect and manage their digital game collection, wondering about those cloud saves, and what will happen to PSN games, trophies and the Vita's useful apps.

I emailed Sony PlayStation PR for some specific information on post-Vita memory card availability, PSN lifespan, system buying options, support and so on - but never heard back. I asked Sony support to sort out the EU store "Latest "updates on the Vita to benefit the hard working developers still bringing games - and never heard back. In other words, don't expect any help from them.

While third-parties can provide batteries, spare analog sticks and other components, since Sony won't talk I guess the answer is to buy what you can now? If you're not sure, here's the current state of affairs.

The hard(ware) questions

Vita production ends in 2019, Sony won't be going back on that one. In some small part of a giant Chinese Sony factory, the last units are rolling off the production line, and there will be no more. All of these are headed to the Asian market, so if you want a new Vita import from Japan or use eBay or another service to snaffle a new unit.

We already know that game card production in the west ceases soon, and will continue in limited numbers for Japan for a while. Hopefully slack production means the odd limited physical release will continue through the likes of EastAsiaSoft, but those limited runs and lack of physical releases mean the future is largely through digital sales via PSN.

When it comes to memory cards, the prices have never really fallen, and limited supply will keep them high. Sony shows no sign of cutting the prices or releasing an official SD card adapter to widen the options.  The sooner you can snap up a backup card or two the better.

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