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PlayStation Vita isn’t dead, just ask Nintendo Switch indie developers

PlayStation Vita isn’t dead, just ask Nintendo Switch indie developers


Vita is dead, long live Vita

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The PlayStation Vita is nearly impossible to find on store shelves as Sony lets its quirky handheld ride into the sunset. But an unexpected group isn’t ready to let go of the Vita just yet: indie game developers working on its new competitor, the Nintendo Switch.

At GDC 2017, Nintendo gathered a band of indie developers to talk about the pleasure and ease of bringing their games to the Switch. And while the room was full of enthusiasm for the new hardware, a couple developers said the upcoming handheld wouldn’t be the final blow to Sony’s little portable that couldn’t.

“We’re still looking at the Vita unless interest begins to decline very rapidly,” said Image & Form Games CEO Brjánn Sigurgeirsson. “If nobody is developing for a platform you love, it opens an opportunity.”

The Vita’s hardcore audience remains an opportunity

Image & Form Games’ new game, SteamWorld Dig 2, will debut on the Switch, and the developer hasn’t announced other platforms for the games. But Sigurgeirsson said they intended to support a community that seems eager for more new and good games.

“Somehow the Vita community feels like the Nintendo community,” said Sigurgeirsson. “They are die hards.”

Brian Provinciano, the creator of Retro City Rampage and the upcoming Shakedown Hawaii, has a personal love for handhelds at large and the PlayStation Vita in particular. Provinciano hopes to release his new game on Vita, and if possible, whatever he makes next. He explains that Vita remains viable so long as enough people will buy the game to cover the cost of porting it to the system.

Not every developer in the room was so keen on supporting the system. Christian Stewart, co-designer on Pocket Rumble, originally hoped the two-player fighting game would appear on Vita, offering it as a stretch goal on the game’s Kickstarter.

“This is the only portable console you could play with two players,” said Stewart, referring to the Switch’s ability to turn the Joy-Cons into two separate controllers. “It’s absolutely perfect, we need to be on here.”

Ash Wednesday, also co-designer on Rocket Rumble, agreed. “Vita has been a great home for indie games,” said Wednesday, “but this abandonment by Sony — I worry how much they are paying attention anymore.”