Follow TV Tropes


Useful Notes / PlayStation Vita

Go To

Short story: Sony Interactive Entertainment's successor to the PlayStation Portable turned the company's "successful failure" in the handheld gaming market into an outright financial failure. While the Vita struggled to cultivate a user base outside of its home market and became the company's lowest-selling system, the device managed to perform well enough in its home country thanks to Japan's growing preference for handheld gaming over home consoles. Despite the bad luck the Vita suffered, the handheld developed a small yet passionate cult following with smaller Asian studios and Western Indie Game makers still developing games for the system long after Sony gave up on the system, along with modders finding exploits to make the most out of the Vita's hardware.

Long story: Debuting at the beginning of 2011 in a private press conference by Sony under the name "Next Generation Portable" (or "NGP"), and bestowed with the official name of PlayStation Vita at E3 2011, pre-release reactions to Sony's newest handheld eerily mirrored those of its predecessor. Just as the PSP before it, gaming media proclaimed the Vita to be the Nintendo Killer. The system was visually stunning, offering PlayStation 3-level graphics at a resolution of 960×544, far surpassing the visuals offered on the rival Nintendo 3DS's 400×240 screen. Unlike Nintendo, who would only use connectivity between their home and handheld hardware lines sparingly, the Vita would work together with the PlayStation 4 to give owners of both access to "Cross Play" (a cloud-saving system that allowed gamers to take up and continue their console games on their Vita using the same save file) and "Cross Buy" (buying the PS4 version of a game also gave one the Vita version, and vice versa). And its cheapest model, the Wi-Fi only version, was the same price as a 3DS at launch. Combine all that with the 3DS struggling throughout its first year, and gaming pundits quickly crowned Sony's handheld as the obvious consumer buy over Nintendo's offering. So naturally, when it was released in Japan on December 17th, 2011, it performed well for its debut week... before losing almost 80% of its sales numbers the next, being outsold on Christmas week not just by its main competitionnote , but by the original PSP as well.

For all the right moves that Sony made following their two previous systems falling below expectations in terms of sales, Sony still had some difficulties getting the Vita off the ground:

  • Like its predecessor, Sony's initial message was that the PlayStation Vita would offer console-quality gaming on the go, and it sought to prove this with a launch year lineup that mainly consisted of new entries in major console franchises such as Uncharted and Resistance. However, these games were made by different developers than their console counterparts, with critics viewing most of these new Vita installments as B-Team efforts that sorely lacked in quality compared to the main console branches of their respective series. The most notable of these failures included the critically panned launch title Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified. More impressive efforts such as Killzone: Mercenary would only come years after initial enthusiasm was already depleted, and the Vita did not receive a new title in the Grand Theft Auto and Monster Hunter series, which were killer apps for the PSP.note  By the end of its life, the closest thing the system had to a killer app ended up being Persona 4: Golden, an Updated Re-release of a PlayStation 2 game, but despite being commonly cited as the only reason to buy a Vita, it unfortunately wasn't enough to save the device.
  • The original version of the console has no internal memory, using only external memory in the form of a proprietary Sony Memory Stick, a new type of memory stick exclusive to the Vita. As the sticks were modified microSD cards, previous PRO and DUO Memory Sticks used by the PSP could not work with it. These memory sticks were also rather expensive and slow: a 32-gigabyte stick cost US$80 at launch (four times the cost of an equivalent SD card at the time), and their transfer rates compared very poorly to Class-10 and UHS-1 SD cards in the same price bracket. In fact, one article about a battery of speed tests proved that in some cases, the Vita cards were even slower than Class-4 SD cards. It didn't help that there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to which retail Vita games could save data to the cartridge and which required external memory. Later versions of the console would add internal memory to the device, but still stick with the proprietary memory format.
  • Portable gaming has traditionally been the realm of middle-tier developers due to the cheaper development costs of making a handheld game as opposed to a home console title. In targeting console-quality graphics, the Vita ironically ended up being too powerful for its own good. Smartphones and even the Nintendo 3DS were much cheaper to develop for in comparison and thus seen as a safer financial risk while, as Kingdom Hearts head honcho Tetsuya Nomura pointed out in a 2020 interview regarding that series' absence on the handheldnote , if you're going for console-quality graphics, why not just skip the Vita's portable gaming compromises and develop on a console to begin with?
  • Retailers in North America, Europe, and Australia seemed to have somewhat of a disdain for the Vita. The Vita was given very limited floor and shelf space. Spaces allocated for the Vita were particularly small, giving the idea that there were no games. Sony of Europe and North America also didn't seem to do much in the way of marketing it - the PSP had much much more marketing in contrast. (There was also a lawsuit going on at the time, at least in the UK, which possibly made them wary of marketing the device that might get Screwed by the Lawyers.)
  • One other way that it was ahead of its time was its extensive library of games... that were download-only. The Vita was a very good platform for indie games to be released. However, the lack of any kind of physical medium to send to retailers (including download cards with codes on them) combined with most indie games lacking any kind of marketing campaign beyond word of mouth resulted in the continued perception that the Vita didn't have any games, because you had to already have a Vita with a PlayStation Network account to look on the PSN store.

Sales also proved nonexistent following its launches in North America and Europe, with the PlayStation Vita selling only 4 million units globally by the end of its first year. The company would stop publicly revealing the sales numbers for the device due to its underwhelming performance after two years on market, instead giving combined figures for both the PSP and Vita, with even those sales projections routinely falling short. While a price cut a few months into the system's lifenote  allowed the Japanese sales to recover and establish the system as a modest seller in its home country, all attempts to fix the trend fell flat overseas.

By the end of 2013, Sony decided to shift focus with the PlayStation Vita, pushing it as a companion system to the PlayStation 4, with a firmware update allowing PS4 games to be playable on the PS Vita via Remote Play over a wireless network. This had the unfortunate effect of making the device even less desirable to consumers, as Sony was now painting the Vita as a US$200 game controller in the vein of the Wii U's Gamepad rather than a distinct gaming platform with its own library of titles. At this point, many developers outside of Japanese studios and Western indie creators had all but ceased creating games for the platform due to low sales. Sony themselves would cease development and publication of first-party content in 2015, in addition to porting the handheld's most noteworthy exclusives (such as Gravity Rush and Tearaway) to the home console, further reducing the value proposition of buying a Vita as the system's life dragged on. Production of physical game cartridges ceased in May 2018, while production of the Vita itself would end the following year in February.

Despite all this, the Vita still managed to develop a small but devoted fanbase in non-Asian markets, remaining relevant to that audience thanks to its solid library of Eastern RPGs and Visual Novels and aforementioned PS4 companion features. Regardless, the system's lack of global success meant the company would drop out of the dedicated portable gaming market, with various Sony executives stating that they see no future in it and Sony opting to bolster Remote Play options for on-the-go play with accessories like the Backbone One instead. This would culminate in the closest successor to the Vita being the PlayStation Portal, planned to release in 2023. Rather than a handheld console in its own right, the Portal is a streaming-only device meant to serve as a dedicated Remote Play option for the PlayStation 5; as an aside, the Vita cannot be used as an option for PS5 Remote Play.

Following the footsteps of the PS2 and early versions of the PS3, the Vita is backwards compatible with PSP games and emulated PlayStation games released for the PSP, though only through downloadable games purchased from the PSN since the Vita lacks a UMD drive. The Vita has a battery life of 2-5 hours depending on the system's settings. Sony also produced a second Vita design (model PCH-2000) in 2013 that was both 20% thinner and 15% lighter, came in several colours, had 1GB of internal storage for small games and media, and replaced the OLED with an LED screen for a greatly increased battery life at the cost of less vibrant colors.

Sony also released a home version of the device called the PS Vita TV in Japan on November 14th, 2013. A "microconsole", the Vita TV was a HDMI device that could play PS Vita and PlayStation Plus games on the television with the use of a DualShock controller, as well as stream PS4 games onto a different television through Wi-Fi. The device's primary purpose was to form a foothold for Sony in the multi-function streaming device (Apple TV, Roku Box, etc.) market in the Eastern markets, where living room streaming admittedly had less of a foothold. Sadly, a fair chunk of Vita games are actually incompatible with itnote , though a large collection of PS1/PSN games are downloadable and compatible with it. Due to low sales, it was renamed PlayStation TV when it was released in North America and Japan the following year, to avoid association with the Vita brand.

Compared to the PS3 and PSP, the hacking/homebrew scene for the Vita family was limited and made slow progress for years due to the locked-down nature of the hardware and software. This all changed in July 2016, as the firmware v3.60 and 3.65-exclusive Henkaku system hack finally allowed unsigned code to be run freely and is very simple to install straight from the internet browser, and the h-encore exploit was later developed to permit the downgrading of Vita firmware down to v3.60. The Vita's homebrew scene consequently blossomed to surpass that of the PSP by the beginning of The New '20s, with too many notable developments to name on this page.

All in all, with Sony abandoning official support for the Vita (going up to attempting to close the platform's online store on August 27, 2021, which was reversed on April 19 following a big blowback from the handheld's cult following), the homebrew scene is thriving and breathing new life into the scene alongside developers who are still making official games for the console.

Technical specifications

  • The CPU is a quad core 32-bit ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore that can run up to 444 MHz, however, the CPU only runs at 333 MHz to save battery life. Despite being 32-bit, it does come with a plethora of nice features.
  • Like the Game Boy Advance of yonder drawing on the Game Boy Color's processor, the Vita also includes a 333 MHz MIPS32 R4000 R4k-based CPUs note  for broad PSP compatibility. This was originally confined to the PSP side, but hackers are just now (as of the early 2020's) looking at leveraging the MIPS and ARM processors together for even better homebrew projects.
  • The GPU is a quad core PowerVR SGX543+ running at 111 MHz but can run up to a max clock speed of 222 MHz. Compute performance for the GPU is far worse than the PS3's Reality Synthesizernote  at 28.4 GFLOPS versus 228.8 for the RSX.
  • A Toshiba MeP-c5 embedded processor nicknamed "F00D" handles all cryptography and security key processes.


  • 512 MB of general purpose RAM
  • 128 MB of video RAM
  • 3.78GB of internal NAND storage memory. The PCH-100X & PCH-110X model's reserves all 3.78GB for kernel and VSH files, although it barely uses 878MB of this memory. Homebrew tools can allow user's to access this unused storage area for use.
    • The PCH-200X model & PlayStation TV allow's users access to 1GB of the internal storage for save data.
  • External data is officially saved onto proprietary memory cards, rather than more commonly used (but not quite common) MemorySticks used in the PSP. Comes in sizes of 4 GB up to 64 GB, with read and write rates equivalent to Class-2 and Class-4 SD cards. Unknown changes in manufacturing would result in later Vita memory cards being prone to abnormally high failure rates (with virtually all 64GB cards falling under this category), necessitating costly hunts for older memory cards or modding to allow the use of SD cards.
  • Vita games come in game cartridges, like the Nintendo DS and 3DS. Games may reserve some space for save files or patches. Interestingly, Vita game cards are a custom variant of the MultiMediaCard standard, likely to reduce costs (as the MMC protocol is an open standard). Games are stored using the EXFAT file system, though encryption and other copy protection schemes are used to deter piracy. Due to the strict 4 GB game cards, SD Gundam G Generation Genesis is one of the few games require 4 GB of memory card storage to install from the first game card (the main one), then insert the second (additional contents card) before reinserting the first one as a play card.
    • PSP and PS1 games are run from the memory card.


  • The 5" OLED display has a resolution of 960x544 with a 16.7 million color output
    • The PCH-2000 model uses an LCD instead.
  • The GPU makes 140 million triangles and 4 gigapixels per second per core. Totaling all that up puts this at 560 million triangles and 16 gigapixels per second.
    • Polygon-wise, this puts it worse than the PS3 (560 million versus 800 million per second). However, you probably will be hard pressed to notice any issues with polygonal edges because of the smaller resolution.
    • Fillrate-wise, this is much better than the PS3 (16 gigapixels versus 6.8 gigapixels per second).


  • Two touch interfaces, one on the screen, the other on the back.
  • Two cameras, one on the front, the other on the back.
  • "Sixaxis" accelerometer for motion sensing.
  • Accessory port (PCH-1000 models only), goes unused but was originally intended for HDMI Video out much like the AV Out of it's predecessor.
  • Proprietary USB port (PCH-1000 models only), can charge the system, exchange data with a computer or PS3, or output audio via the official charging cradle.
  • 802.11n wireless
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • 3G (PCH-110X models only)
  • SIM card port (PCH-110X models only)
  • The 2200mAH battery is rated for about 3-5 hours of game time.
  • The PCH-2000 model replaces the proprietary USB port with a USB Micro port and adds about an additional hour of battery life.

Vita games and video game series with their own TV Tropes pages:

    open/close all folders 







Alternative Title(s): PS Vita