PlayStation Vita owners can expect more indie titles but fewer triple-A first-party games in the future.
That’s the admission of Sony Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida, who when asked by Polygon if Vita will be getting fewer first-party games replied: "I would say, yes, that’s correct.”
The reasons? Sony confesses to two. First – consumers have improved graphical expectations.
"When we launched PSP titles, a big talking point was PS2-quality games in your hands,” Yoshida added. It was an amazing experience to play PS2-quality like Twisted Metal on your portable device.
But as time went on and the PS3 launched and people started to see next-gen games, that PS2 quality was not enough. People’s expectations for the quality just moved on. So when we launched the Vita with Uncharted, it was amazing; PS3-like quality in your palm, but as time moved on, you are seeing PS4 quality and people’s expectations for the graphic fidelity has gone up."
The second – bite-sized accessible titles are more suited to portable games machines.
Added Yoshida: "It’s very fortunate that the indie boom happened and they are providing lots of great content to Vita. Gameplay, game mechanic wise, people want to spend 10 minutes, 15 minutes getting in and out. On Vita, it’s great with suspended functionality, so these indie games really great for that from a game design standpoint.
"Instead of watching big stories or cinematics, you can spend hours on Vita. So, I think that’s actually the biggest star to help provide great content to Vita going forward. And we continue to make games cross-platform games, especially on digital side."
The third, unspoken reason? With sales of around 8-9m units worldwide, Vita has currently sold around a tenth of what its predecessor the PSP achieved. Put simply, the hardware hasn’t sold enough to make first-party development viable.
Note the difference between Vita and Wii U, though, the latter of which ahs sold just over 6m machines.
Third parties won’t develop for Wii U because of both the install base and the competition they face from Nintendo’s own popular and high-quality software titles. With Sony offering so little itself the playing field remains open for third parties to prosper on Vita, providing development budgets are compatible with the limited returns.