Maps, Near and YouTube toasted by Sony

Sony is ditching support for, removing apps and generally crippling a few of what were the Vita's key features at launch. However, since launch I doubt few people have used or care about them, so its no massive loss. Maps I've used once, but never really cared about, and it only made sense for the few GPS/3G Vita models sold, even in Japan.

As for Near, the Maps part of that is being turned off. I turn it on from time to time, got the odd challenge or reward (which I guess will still work). But, since few games use it properly, I won't miss it and its nothing like Nintendo's Street Pass which makes far more sense. Quite why Sony didn't try to innovate with it, or mimic Nintendo over the years, I have no idea.

YouTube, well Sony aren't deleting the app, but it won't be available to download from the January 28th. And you can access the videos via the browser which is probably a neater solution, since the web app is updated more often than the bubble app. This follows Skype being removed from the store, I guess these apps still work if you already have them, but haven't tried it myself.

So, its no big deal really. But its another sign Sony is slowly moving its focus elsewhere, and there's also no carrot to go with these stick beatings. No sign of Sony trying something new, clever or experimental. I guess it also means Europe will never get the Netflix app or anything else vaguely entertaining.

I just hope no one had some brilliant game in development that relies on Maps or Near to do something really cool. Other than that, it won't affect any games, but you can bet the Vita-beater sites will use this as more Vita-is-doomed fodder. These changes kick in with an upcoming Firmware update, hopefully Sony will add at least one interesting feature to make up for the loss.

UPDATE: Oh, look. Polygon, Engadget and others all run cookie-cutter "Vita losing features stories", with no sense of a user anywhere in sight. But, you notice they never write when anything positive happens to the handheld? I know US sites have no concept of balance, but just one positive story, sometime?