Is the PS VR2 the next Vita?

Sony being Sony.

Bella Ramsey holding VR2.

My VR2 sits under my television, almost taunting me whenever I’m on the couch. It’s covered in Pokemon stickers, and it hasn’t been used for months.

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Unfortunately, this is a familiar feeling. My PlayStation Vita watches me from a shelf just above head level whenever I’m at my desk. It hasn’t been used in years, and I should probably put it in its pouch to stop it from getting any dustier, but I like looking at it. Hands down, it’s one of the most elegant handhelds of all time.

PlayStation has a stellar track record when it comes to home consoles, but its history with peripherals and portables is a little spottier. Part of the problem seems to be that the company is seemingly incapable of learning from its past mistakes, and I’m afraid I’m beginning to see errors made with the Vita being replicated with the PS VR2.

PlayStation Vita.
Image via Sony.

PlayStation Vita hits the ground running

When the PlayStation Portable launched in 2005, it was a media powerhouse capable of playing music and movies via memory cards or UMDs. It didn’t slack when it came to its main objective – running games – and ambitious titles like Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories ensured the PSP truly felt like a portable home console.

Sony also supported the PSP with a good selection of first-party games, including Gran Turismo, Patapon, and LocoRoco 2. Though it didn’t outsell Nintendo’s handheld (not even close), the PSP was a success for Sony, as it managed to sell over 76 million units by 2012.

With the PSP under PlayStation’s belt, the hype was high for the handheld’s successor. Originally just titled Next Generation Portable, it was announced in 2011. It hit shelves in the West in 2012 and it had a fantastic launch line-up beefed up by Sony’s first-party support.

There were impressive games – such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss and the racing game WipeOut 2048 – that emulated the console experience on the go. The handheld received plenty more first-party titles such as Gravity Rush, but these began to dry up as time passed. This was likely due to lower-than-expected sales which forced Sony to cut back its forecasts.

There has been plenty of speculation regarding why the Vita didn’t sell as well as its predecessor. Some have pointed to its proprietary memory card which was pricey enough to deter consumers. Others have argued that the Vita was poorly marketed and it was often presented as a PS3 remote play accessory rather than a fully-fledged standalone device.

Neverending Nightmares.
Screenshot by Destructoid.

Vita and 3rd party support

Before long, it felt like Sony had forgotten about the Vita entirely, and it became the company’s neglected failure as the company set its sights on the PS4. Though the first-party support lessened, it took a long time for the handheld to finally meet its demise.

For years, the Vita was kept alive by third-party support, mostly from indie creators and smaller Japanese developers. Whether you’re searching for morbid titles like Actual Sunlight or an unsettling scare like Neverending Nightmares, you can find it on the Vita. It is also impossible to ignore the explosion of visual novels that appeared on the gadget, and Steins; Gate and Root Letter are just a few of the unmissable titles available.

This third-party support wasn’t enough to keep Sony interested in the Vita, and in 2019, it was discontinued. Surprisingly, the handheld’s story isn’t quite over yet. It’s still getting games, and thanks to homebrewing, it is also possible to remote play your PS5 on it.

The Vita’s story is a sad one because it had so much potential. It had everything it needed to be a PS3 in your pocket, but it missed the mark badly, and we were left with a gadget that could play Uncharted but was stuck flipping the pages of visual novels. Sony hasn’t attempted to penetrate the handheld gaming market since. Surely this means it learned its lesson.

PlayStation VR2 headset and controllers.
Image via Sony.

PS VR2 hits the ground running

When the PlayStation VR launched in 2016, it was a media powerhouse capable of playing 3D movies. It didn’t slack when it came to its main objective – running games – and ambitious titles like Resident Evil 7 ensured the headset truly felt like a home console gone virtual.

Sony also supported the PS VR with a good selection of first-party games, including Astro Bot Rescue Mission, WipeOut Omega Collection, and Dreams. Though it didn’t outsell Meta’s Quest headsets (not even close), the PS VR was a success for Sony, as it managed to move over 5 million units.

With the PS VR under PlayStation’s belt, the hype was high for the headset’s successor. It was announced in 2022 and it hit shelves in Febraury 2023 with a fantastic launch line-up beefed up by Sony’s first-party support.

There are impressive games – such as Horizon Call of the Mountain and the racing game Gran Turismo 7 – that emulate the console experience in the virtual realm. Unfortunately, the stream of first-party titles has dried up rather rapidly.

Star Wars: Tales From the Galaxy's Edge.
Screenshot by Destructoid.

VR2 and 3rd party support

Already, it feels like Sony has forgotten about the PS VR2. It’s not a failure, as reports indicate that the headset is outselling its predecessor. However, its future doesn’t look bright if it continues its current trajectory.

At present, it feels like the headset is being kept alive by third-party developers, and on this front, there is actually an impressively sized library available. Some must-play titles include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Before Your Eyes – Easily the best narrative game on the headset, and its use of eye-tracking is genius.
  • Pavlov VR – A great multiplayer FPS with an active user base.
  • Jurassic World Aftermath Collection – Expect plenty of adventure and a few scares too.
  • Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – One of the best-looking titles available on the headset.

You’re going to have to wade through quite a bit of jank and failed experiments before you find the gems. A string of bad experiences put me on my current hiatus from the headset. The Dark Pictures: Switchback VR has poor graphics and bugs, No Man’s Sky is a blurry mess (though I’ve read an update has since improved things), and Kayak VR: Mirage is cool but it gets boring very quickly.

The PS VR2 disappoints me because it has so much potential. Its specs make it one of the best headsets on the market currently, but we’ve hardly received titles that push the headset the way Call of the Mountain has. It can play Resident Evil 8 but we’re stuck flipping the pages of Moss.

I really hope things take a turn and Sony continues to support the headset. There are signs that it’s still being invested in, as it does have exclusives such as Resident Evil 4 coming up, but one or two of these titles a year isn’t going to be enough to ensure the VR2’s longevity. As it stands, if you don’t have the headset, you aren’t missing out on too much.

On an entirely unrelated note, the PlayStation Portal recently launched and it looks interesting. Wireless headsets require PS Link to connect to the remote play device. I’m sure Sony will continue to make such headsets available well into the future regardless of the Portal’s sales number. What could go wrong?

About The Author
Smangaliso Simelane
Staff Writer - Smangaliso Simelane is a writer with a passion for all things related to video games. He has been writing about video games since 2020.
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