For a device with a name that’s Latin for “Life,” the PlayStation Vita is very dead. In fact, you can only buy new software for it today thanks to a u-turn from Sony, and even then, it’s not exactly easy, with Sony aiming to remove support for credit cards and PayPal (opens in new tab).
So, as much as we’d love Sony to make a new PSP or Vita 2, it’s pretty clear that the company has no such plans for the foreseeable future. But the solution is actually right under your nose, assuming you have the money to make it a reality.
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The Steam Deck could be the Vita 2 that Sony refuses to give us. Especially handy if you're still struggling to find PS5 stock.
Steam Deck to the rescue
It’s easy to think of Valve’s Steam Deck as a vehicle for PC gaming, but the lines between PC games and console titles are increasingly blurring. Console exclusive like God of War, which is coming to PC, shows that the market is shifting dramatically. Even then, the shift is not as clean the other way around. Traditional mouse controlled titles (think RTS and puzzle games) may struggle to play well on a console, unless specifically developed with controllers in mind.
Apparently Sony has registered a PC gaming company, adding further evidence of the company's commitment to computer gaming. If more PlayStation titles come to Steam Deck, then gamers will get a system that offers everything the Vita did, and then some.
To underline the point, here’s Sony’s PlayStation Indies boss Shuhei Yoshida playing Horizon Zero Dawn on the Steam Deck.
Thanks to @valvesoftware, checking out #HorizonZeroDawn on Steam Deck :D pic.twitter.com/rO9ev0NLkROctober 29, 2021
This is possible, of course, not because Sony has specifically ported it, but because the game has been released on Steam for PC players around the world.
And it’s not the only previous PlayStation exclusive that will work on the handheld without any modification: Death Stranding, Days Gone, Heavy Rain, Helldivers and Detroit are all available to buy on Steam right now. I mentioned God of War above and Uncharted has too been revealed to be in the works. And there’s a rumor that Sackboy: A Big Adventure will be coming soon (opens in new tab).
Okay, there are some obvious gaps there. There’s no The Last of Us, Ratchet and Clank or Gran Turismo, but it’s not like every PlayStation franchise made its way to PSP and Vita, either. And fortunately, the Steam Deck has a whole other console’s exclusives to fall upon: the Xbox.
So yes, you may not be able to play Gran Turismo, but you can play Forza Horizon, or Gears 5 or whatever exclusives Bethesda puts out in the next few years (assuming the Steam Deck’s hardware keeps up.)
Add to this the ridiculous number of old PC games on Steam, and the Vita couldn’t dream of competing. On a retro kick recently, I discovered that Little Big Adventure — a game I first beat in 1994 — is available in a bundle with its sequel for just $3.19 (opens in new tab).
And if your game of choice isn’t on there, then Valve has said Steam Deck buyers are free to install Windows, at which point the whole world of PC gaming is theoretically at your fingertips. While Sony cracked down hard on homebrew for the PSP and Vita, here it’s at least an option, if not actually encouraged. Doing a quick Google search, there does seem to be PS Vita emulators out on the internet. But of course, if you don't own and rip actual games yourselves, downloading dumped software online would be illegal, and is something we would never recommend or encourage.
Of course, if the Steam Deck were made by Sony, buyers would like have to pay for storage at inflated prices, as the company has a history of insisting buyers use its own proprietary memory cards. At the time of writing, a third-party Vita-compatible 16GB memory card costs nearly $50 (opens in new tab) on Amazon. A used 64GB official Vita memory card can sell for $130 on eBay (opens in new tab). The Steam Deck, meanwhile, is compatible with microSD cards, and a 256GB one will set you back around 30 bucks (opens in new tab).
That said, it’s a dangerous game discussing the Steam Deck in terms of value, given the base unit costs $399. The Vita, even at launch, was just $250. But if you really want a portable PlayStation experience in 2022, then that extra $149 looks worth paying, and then some.
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