Sony Slowing PS Vita Production in Japan
Late last year, Sony announced that production of the PlayStation Vita would cease in 2019. At the time, the company did not provide an exact end date for the handheld and instead told gamers that supply would begin to wane "early" in the year.
According to a recent report from Gematsu, it appears that Sony has begun the process of scaling down Vita production in Japan, with the company's official Japanese website noting the affected models as PCH-2000 ZA11 and PCH-2000 ZA23.
Currently, there is no word on how this will immediately impact North America, but Sony Interactive Entertainment’s senior vice president Hiroyuki Oda has previously said that once manufacturing halts in Japan, "from there, shipping will end.”
It's worth pointing out that while we don't exactly know when "shipping will end," or what markets will be impacted first outside of Japan, we do know that in 2017, former president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment America Shawn Layden told the Verge that North American and European sales for the platform had never "gotten over the hump."
Vita is still a viable platform, chiefly in the Japanese and Asian markets. We still have developers in Japan who are building for that platform. But it just didn’t get over the hump in Europe and America. It’s hard to know exactly why, but it didn’t garner a large enough audience here for us to continue to build for it.
Although there have been recent demos and game releases for the platform, and there are still games set for release on the Vita in 2019, figures show that Vita sales have dropped off considerably in all markets over the last two years.
Additionally, there is no official word on if any of the Vita's currently unreleased games, such as Battle Princess Madelyn or Shovel Knight: King of Cards, will ship on the platform this year. Currently, online storefronts such as Newegg and Amazon still have Vita systems available for purchase, albeit Amazon's offerings are primarily from third-party vendors.
The PlayStation Vita launched in 2011, alongside Nintendo's 3DS. While the handheld showed signs of promise early in its cycle, it struggled to gain a considerable foothold in North America.
According to an Engadget report, Nintendo's 3DS sold more than 70 million in the seven years between 2011 and 2018. In the same time period, the Vita sold only 22% of that total, or 16 million units.
It's too bad the system never took off for Sony, as it was home to fun and unique games, many of which were perfect for a handheld system.