When you look at the Nintendo DS, it looks like a revolutionary handheld with its touchscreen and folding clamshell design. However, the blueprint for modern handhelds (like the Switch and Steam Deck) was laid by the PSP and PS Vita. Despite underwhelming sales performance, the PS Vita is still highly sought after on the used market.
Why are PS Vitas still so expensive? It’s a combination of high demand and low supply, basic economics. Plus, a lot of the used PS Vitas listed on marketplaces are immediately snatched up by modders and hackers who use these as portable emulation machines.
One of the major reasons for the PS Vita failing commercially was the way it was marketed. Sony promised AAA gaming in your pocket, which the PS Vita just wasn’t going to pull off with its hardware. However, what it did do was provide an alternative to the 3DS for those who wanted more mature games with superior graphics.
Why Are PS Vitas Still So Expensive?
To help you understand why PS Vita consoles are still in such high demand, I must first talk about what it represents. While Nintendo’s 3DS kept the old clamshell design of the DS, Sony took the PSP and made it even better. The 3DS was a gaming console you could carry in your pocket; the PS Vita was an entertainment hub that could do everything.
Another thing the PS Vita did very well was the control layout. The PSP has one analog stick, while the Vita has two- one on either side of the screen. Combined with the excellent processor, this allowed developers to create proper ports of AAA games for the Vita instead of creating custom handheld-optimized games.
These analog sticks are also the reason first-person shooters play so much better on Vita. The Vita has a D-pad on the left, with PlayStation buttons (triangle, square, circle, cross) on the right. It is like holding a regular PS controller with the screen in the middle.
You will find that the exact same control layout is used in every smartphone game, and modern handheld (Switch). On top of the control upgrades, Sony also ramped up the hardware specifications. The PS Vita could play AAA games such as Killzone, which you would never see on the 3DS.
The 3DS was designed for family-friendly fun, and its game library was comprised of titles like Mario, Metroid, Pokémon, etc. In contrast, the PS Vita advertised itself to a teenage/ young adult audience who wanted more mature stuff with darker storylines and realistic graphics. Basically, 3DS vs Vita is like Wii vs PS3.
Because the PS Vita marketed itself to a more niche audience and didn’t have standout exclusives like Mario, it shipped fewer units. Plus, it wasn’t a very focused device. While the 3DS only played games, the PS Vita could also take photos, play music, and video, and browse the internet.
Is The PS Vita Still Worth Buying?
Yes, it is still an excellent handheld console today. Sony ceased production in 2019, while the 3DS continued till 2020. This is one of the reasons Vita prices are so high- fewer of these were made compared to the 3DS.
Plus, the Vita consoles you find online are usually going to be in very good condition, simply because of how well the console is designed. Sony built it tough, with a thick plastic shell and tight tolerances. Even holding a PSP feels like a premium experience thanks to the metal rim that goes all the way around.
It’s like an iPhone, in terms of how every part is finely machined and fits together like the gears in a clock. The PS Vita is also an emulation beast thanks to its quad-core ARM Cortex A-9 processor. You can install homebrew software to play GBA, NES, and PS1 games on your PS Vita.
Why Didn’t The PS Vita Sell Well?
Nintendo already had the handheld gaming market cornered by the time Sony introduced their PSP. And when the Vita came out, it felt too similar to a smartphone. If you remember, smartphone gaming started to take off during the early 2010s.
Since the Vita did so many things in addition to gaming, it felt like you were buying a smartphone. Even the OS was similar to what you’d get on an Android phone from that time. There was nothing that stood out, no A-tier exclusives to get people interested.
As a result, the Vita didn’t feel as “special” as the Nintendo 3DS. It had a lot of 3rd party games, sure. But these weren’t of the same quality as Nintendo exclusives.
Is PS Vita As Powerful As PS3?
Not at all, even though the marketing would make you believe that it’s a AAA console. With its quad-core ARM Cortex A-9, the PS Vita is comparable in power to an Android flagship smartphone from 2011. Think of it as a companion to the PS3- you play the PS3 in your living room and the PS Vita while you’re outside.
What Is The Rarest PS Vita?
This has to be the PS Vita Hatsune Miku edition, which was only sold in Japan. It has a glossy white color scheme with a graphic of Hatsune Miku on the rear touchpad. Chrome accents are present on the edges, and this console can easily cost over $500 even for a used one.
Will Sony Replace The Vita?
Sony has no plans of releasing another handheld. The type of market they are targeting with handhelds can be done for a fraction of the cost through mobile games. And Sony is going in that direction, pouring lots of resources into mobile games rather than developing an entirely new console.
Because Sony announced that they aren’t going to make another handheld, the PS Vita has become even more exclusive. People want to get their hands on the last Sony handheld. And that raises prices on the used market.
I hope this article helped you understand why PS Vitas are so expensive these days. It’s a combination of high demand and good design. Plus Sony has officially confirmed they won’t make any new handhelds after the Vita, so people are rushing to grab what few there are left.