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The Verge: The portable PlayStations were Sony at its most ambitious

Oct 27, 2017
2,307
Good read from The Verge. Some choice quotes from the article:

You probably know the broad strokes: the PSP was overshadowed by the hugely popular Nintendo DS, while the PS Vita never took off at all. And now we have the Switch.

But it would be unfair to write off Sony’s travails in the portable gaming industry. The PSP and Vita were not only innovative devices in their own right, but the most daunting competitors Nintendo ever faced in the handheld space. They’re more than just a footnote in the PlayStation story.
In hindsight, when the games industry was worried about what mobile gaming might do to traditional consoles around the turn of the decade, it only really applied to Sony portables in the end. Their extra features became redundant next to smartphones; popular genres shifted to commute-friendly free gacha titles; and Sony’s technical advantage was quickly lost to phones that got better and faster every year.
This is sad to say because of how impressive Sony’s handhelds were in their day. But perhaps, after these two and a half decades of Sony and Nintendo trading blows, each company has arrived at its most natural position. Nintendo is so focused on making the best portable console possible that it’s supplanted its own home console business altogether with a simple USB-C dock, while Sony has achieved great success with the PS4 simply by focusing on games. It’s hard to see either company straying too far from its path any time soon.
 

Dr Pears

Member
Sep 9, 2018
1,136
I skipped the PSP during it’s lifetime and I’m just now checking out the PSP library and holy shit theres so many JRPGs! 😍

I really want to get Persona 3 Portable but its so damn expensive to import it to my country 😭
 

Virtualoso

Member
Aug 10, 2019
625
I don’t agree with this statement. The PlayStation 1 and 2 were Sony at their most ambitious. That’s why those two consoles changed the video game landscape so profoundly.
 

AudioEppa

Avenger
Oct 27, 2017
3,158
Not Interested in the article, but I’ll reply to that last quote. I’m happy Sony put the majority of its focus on PS4. Even though they’re supporting VR and probably have VR2 under development. I’m sure the majority of their focus is nicely placed on PS5.
 

LunaSerena

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,183
I don’t know about the Vita, but yeah, Sony was ambitious with the PSP - they were kings of the home space after the PS2, and wanted a pie of the handheld market, too.
Sadly for them, Nintendo was in beast mode with the DS. Considering that, the PSP still had good sales.
 

AusGeno

Member
Oct 27, 2017
318
If the Vita had R2/L2 triggers instead of the back touch panel and used SD cards instead of proprietary memory cards it could have a been an absolutely killer portable system.
 

nadozza

Member
Oct 27, 2017
35
ON, Canada
I still love and use my Vita & Vita TV regularly. More and more time is going towards my Switch but the Vita really was an awesome piece of bespoke hardware when taken advantage of.
 

DanteMenethil

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,653
Back in the psp and vita days : "we don't want consoles experiences on handheld, we want on the go experiences!"
Switch days : "Actually..."
 

AkIRA_22

Member
Oct 29, 2017
32
The PS1 was Sony at it's most ambitious, to come into a new product segment and dethrone BOTH incumbent dominant parties, kicking one out of the hardware industry... Or some interesting and successful handhelds.
 

tr1b0re

Member
Oct 17, 2018
612
Trinidad and Tobago
I've loved every Sony handheld, the PSP was a goldmine for JRPGs and the Vita was a system with so much potential that never got tapped, but I still loved the games I played on it

I remember playing Wipeout 2048 near launch and it blew my mind it was running on a portable system

It's disappointing we may never see another Sony handheld
 

Clive

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,385
The PSP might be the furthest ahead of the competition a console ever has been tech-wise. It absolutely blew the DS away in terms of graphics and storage capabilities. It was truly ambitious and cutting edge for the time. It always felt gimped for the type of games Sony focused on though due to the lack of a second stick. 3D action games just did not play well on the console.

The Vita never felt ambitious to me. They just took parts that were available on the market. The only "positive" extraordinary thing about it was the awkward back touch pad. Many things about the Vita was below what the market should have expected for a modern handheld such as the 4GB game cards and max 32GB memory cards at launch. It also failed to reach native resolution for most games. It's true that it was the first dual-stick handheld but I don't think that was ambitious, just what the market rightfully should expect in 2012. Still played the crap out of my Vita though. Sony's first party games made it worthwhile and it was great for portable indies.
 

kikiribu

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,152
I sold my PSP one month after I got it. It was a huge waste of money and I only really got it to play Crisis Core anyway. Handheld consoles are not for me. I don't play video games when I'm outside, and iPhone already has an endless amount of games for when people take a shit that I'm sure are cheaper to make and also cheaper to buy.

I hope Sony never wastes their money on PSP again.
 

vivftp

Member
Oct 29, 2017
3,355
I'll keep shouting it from the rooftops, I want a PS5 Portable about 2 or 3 years into next gen that can play all the digital games the PS5 can play, just at 720p or 1080p resolution along with 5g for Now access.

Do that and combined I'll bet my left asscheek that the PS5 family will crack the 200 million unit mark 😃
 

EntelechyFuff

Member
Nov 19, 2019
17
I genuinely suspect we wouldn't have a Switch if it hadn't been for the Vita and PSP. It really looks and feels like the natural evolution of both Sony and Nintendo's portable ancestors.
 

Omnistalgic

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,598
NJ
I understand the reason y, but still bummed Sony won’t partake in the handheld space. I don’t play portable, but would love a way to play on a tablet.
 
Jul 28, 2019
2,439
Yup. Sony's handhelds are my favorite bits of hardware ever.
PSP and PS Vita's legacy will never be forgotten (and lives on in the Switch for all practical purposes).
 

Shadoken

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,719
I don’t agree with this statement. The PlayStation 1 and 2 were Sony at their most ambitious. That’s why those two consoles changed the video game landscape so profoundly.
Really? I can understand the PS2 and PS3. But PS1 tho was literally "Hey lets give this a shot , since we already made all this shit for Nintendo".
I feel like PS1 was more on Sony marketing being smart as well as Sega ( And Nintendo to an extent ) majorly fucking up at a very crucial point in gaming history.
 

qaopjlll

Member
Oct 27, 2017
463
The PSP and Vita were too underpowered and lacking in features to really deliver on their promise of delivering PS2/PS3 quality gaming on the go. Their best games were the ones that were designed to fit in the limitations of the system rather than games that tried to deliver a full console experience.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,255
I kinda feel like PSVR is the new space where Sony is ambitious like the Vita. It's a super cool device that isn't a huge seller, but gets a lot of love from the hardcore. It's also like their portable game system, in the sense that it gets support from their b-tier devs (although like the portables they've had some really good output).
 
Dec 2, 2017
2,658
PSP was awesome when it hit, but its limitations- blurry screen, only one analog nub, crummy dpad - meant it got long in the tooth after a couple of years for me.

But Vita, that was a dream machine. It was too expensive, and the article’s on point, cell phones hurt it bad and Sony couldn’t/wouldn’t get enough software on there to make a go of it. “Console gaming on the go” was too expensive to develop if the Vita was the only market for it.

But man, I loved that machine. The internet took glee in constantly pronouncing it dead from its second year on, but Japanese 3rd parties & indies kept it going for years. It was a jrpg & visual novel haven, and access to the PSP library with a real dpad & fantastic screen was a godsend. And despite cellphones sidelining a lot of its functionality, fact is that browser saved me from some bad situations when I was travelling. I would have been right there day one if Sony had announced a followup.

There was a moment where it looked like it might merge with their Xperia line which could have been epic, but sadly it never materialized despite seeming to make a world of sense.
 

Arklite

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,772
The Vita was like a preview of this gen for Sony. Fast multitasking and party chat were both things the PS3 couldn't even do, and the Switch still can't do the latter. It's a fantastic piece of kit. Shame they lost Monster Hunter, it could've kept it afloat.
 
Feb 10, 2018
15,542
Psp was one of my favourite systems ever, have many fond memories with gta:lcs, tekken. Pursuit force, gow:gos and its other gems.
I was mega hyped for the vita, but it just fizzled away after launch because its library was extremely lacking compared to the psp.
 

AegonSnake

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,932
if i could make love to a gadget it would be the vita. the sexiest gadget ive ever laid hands on.

im getting hot just thinking about it.



oh god. brb
 

vivftp

Member
Oct 29, 2017
3,355
Give me more Sony Hardware. Drop the Xperia smartphones and make handhelds again.

Miss holding the PSP 2000 Slim & Lite Piano Black....
The mobile group is useful to Sony if only for them to be an in-house R&D group with intimate knowledge of phones, Android and 5G that all the other divisions of Sony can tap instead of having to learn from scratch whenever they want to do something in that space. I'm still hopeful the mobile group will be able to find its footing and gain back some market share. I wouldn't mind seeing some sort of collaboration with Playstation in the form of a better quality Xperia Play 2, or what it should be called the Playstation Phone since using Now to play on the go will be a bigger thing.
 

kratos2412

Member
Nov 3, 2018
597
Germany
I wouldn't mind seeing some sort of collaboration with Playstation in the form of a better quality Xperia Play 2, or what it should be called the Playstation Phone since using Now to play on the go will be a bigger thing.
That thing better should have analog Sticks. But how they gonna keep at Slim and Lite .....

I remember dreaming of the Xperia Play back then lol
 

Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,771
They weren't ambitious at all. Both were fairly mild takes on handheld gaming not dissimilar to what anyone else had tried, just with more contemporary tech. And then they didn't support them well, clearly deprioritizing them in terms of game investment. If these are Sony being ambitious, I think it says quite a lot about Sony and not in a good way.
 

logash

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,875
They weren't ambitious at all. Both were fairly mild takes on handheld gaming not dissimilar to what anyone else had tried, just with more contemporary tech. And then they didn't support them well, clearly deprioritizing them in terms of game investment. If these are Sony being ambitious, I think it says quite a lot about Sony and not in a good way.
I disagree with the premise since I think Sony was the most ambitious during the PS1 and PS2 era when it comes to hardware but I disagree with the idea that they gave up on the PSP software wise. The Vita sure, they really just stopped supporting that thing but the PSP had great first party (and great 3rd party support) for it's entire life.