The day is finally here: across the world, hundreds of thousands, possibly even millions, of gamers a getting their hands on the PlayStation Vita for the first time.
As is usual Sony fashion, the PSP successor’s reveal wasn’t that big of a surprise, with rumors dating back as far as 2009 and coming in the form of insider whispers, leaked pictures, patents and even developer slip ups. But we still didn’t know much about the handheld – we knew it no longer a sliding machine, after prototypes suffered heat problems, and we knew, from a patent PSLS uncovered, that it would have a rear touchpad. On January 27th, 2011 Sony decided to put a stop to all the rumors and held an event called the “PlayStation Meeting” – something they had last done five years before to outline the PS3’s launch plans. At the event, upcoming Sony boss Kaz Hirai proudly unveiled what would become the Vita, then called the “Next Generation Portable” or “NGP”.
The next real flood of information came at E3 2011, where the real name – Vita, meaning life in Latin – was announced (of course, it was leaked earlier), causing everyone’s favorite analyst Michael Pachter to proclaim the name “the dumbest ever”. But with the huge number of games shown, announcements of hundreds more in the works and some cool cross-platform tech demos, talk quickly shifted from the name to what the Vita could do.
In October, Sony finally revealed when the Vita would release, sadly missing the crucial Christmas period in most of the world: The Vita would come out on December 17th in Japan and the 22nd of February elsewhere (Sony later revealed the First Edition Bundle that allowed US and Canadian gamers to pick up a 3G Vita a week earlier).
Talks of insanely costly proprietary memory sticks caused the Vita’s first real stumble on its march towards our hearts, sparking outrage as the expensive sticks were necessary but overpriced and not bundled with the Vita. Sony did then slightly lower the cost of the sticks, but the problem does still remain – you need to buy a memory stick at several times the average market rate, simply to save games.
When the Vita released in Japan it sold a solid 325,000 units in its first week, but things quickly turned bad, with sales dropping sharply every week. Some publications began to say that the Vita was therefore doomed and dead on arrival, others told them to shut up and wait. A mostly western line-up and a huge rise in sales of 3DS’ caused by a price drop and the release of Mario and Monster Hunter titles dominated sales headlines ever since.
Then, the Vita finally launched in the West… well kinda. On Feb 15th, 2012, some US and Canadians picked up the handheld and seem to be enjoying it so far. Sales figures aren’t known, but presumably are low as the bundle was meant to be in limited supply and not a full release.
That brings us to today – the fifth unique Sony games machine and the second Sony portable PlayStation is out now in the US, Canada, the UK, Europe and Latin America (as well as Japan still), with unlucky Australians having to wait one more day.
Have you picked up, or are you picking up a PS Vita? Let us know in the comments below, and tell us if this is your first PS device, your second etc. If you are new to the PS family, then you deserve a big congratulations from the whole PSLS team – you’re sure to enjoy your new gaming system.