PS Vita Dead? No, It's Just An Indie Console Now, Sony Says

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The PS Vita isn't dead, says Sony Sony

Despite having an almost non-existent presence at major conventions and expos this year, Sony claims that the PS Vita, their handheld console that was launched in early 2012, is alive and well in a new niche market. That market, they say, is indie games, ports, and games for younger audiences.

In an interview with Eurogamer, the head of Sony's UK division, Fergal Gara, was optimistic about how "robust and consistent" the sales have been so far for the struggling handheld. Remaining optimistic about upcoming releases, and citing the PS Vita's ability to pair up with the PS4, Gara said:

"It's currently in year-on-year growth and enjoying a healthy year, and it's about to hit its biggest and potentially most powerful release of the year, which is Minecraft. That could be an extraordinary release for Vita. We're seeing a bit of reflected glory from PS4. So there is a traction in remote play, and we see the numbers there. But it's more than that. It's just found its niche. It's not the biggest niche in the world, and we've been fairly open about talking about it entered a crowded landscape with many other devices providing some sort of handheld fulfillment. But for those who want that more specialist device and a more specialist experience, it does a damn good job, and therefore it trucks along quite nicely."

With so much emphasis on ports, it appears unlikely that major releases with AAA franchises will ever be made exclusively for the PS Vita again. Experiments in the past with games such as Resistance: Burning Skies, Killzone: Mercenary, and Uncharted: Golden Abyss have resulted in low sales and poor reviews for Sony. Other companies have experienced similar receptions, like Activision's Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified and Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed III: Liberation failing to make an impact in sales.

Gara cites Minecraft and LEGO Batman 3 as big games for the console this year as focus shifts to younger audiences and ports. Gara is also proud of the number of games sold digitally straight to Vita devices. "The multitude of digital titles that are proving attractive on the console, and the fact it is a substantially digital device - a big chunk of the sales come direct from the store to the device - the multitude of titles in the indie sector in particular we've done a lot of work with has proven popular, both in terms of affordability and their quirky nature, which seems to suit many of the consumers who are buying Vita." Gara stated. "We've done great numbers through the summer. You may have seen our TV campaign focused on younger gamers around the Lego titles. There's a nod to Minecraft in there and LittleBigPlanet. It's proved successful."

Gara recognizes that this coming holiday season will primarily focus on the PS4, as that console has been selling incredibly well since it was launched almost 10 months ago. This focus on the PS4 could actually help Vita sales too, if Sony emphasizes on how well the two devices work together. "We will certainly not be ignoring it this Christmas," Gara claimed. "We're very pleased with how it continues to sell, and look forward to another big, seasonal spike at Christmas. Its sales profile has over the last couple of years proven to be far more seasonal than, say PS3, and how PS4 will behave once we have another year under our belts."

Moving beyond the holiday season, Gara sees a bright future for the handheld game console. "There's a perception that it's fading away. I can absolutely assure you that that's not happening. It's proving remarkably resilient. We enter the peak season very optimistic about hitting similar or bigger numbers to last year. So we feel in good shape." As indie gaming continues to rise, the Vita may become the defacto portable home for these types of game experiences. We'll just have to wait and see if Sony's expectations can be matched.

Do you like the direction that the PS Vita is headed? Would you rather see more big-name games be made exclusively for the console? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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