With the PlayStation Vita's 10th anniversary fast approaching, Sandeep Rai is preparing his fourth book on Sony's unfortunate handheld – a handheld Rai describes as "an awesome system that deserved better treatment."
Rai's next book, "Vita Means Life", is now wrapping up its Kickstarter campaign – handily the most successful of all of Rai's crowdfunding efforts, having raised nearly eight times its funding target. The hardback volume will collect Rai's three previous Vita chronicles and build on them with new details and reporting focusing on the system's surprisingly turbulent 2021, which saw the abrupt news of the PS3, PSP, and Vita stores closing, swiftly followed by Sony reversing course just as abruptly.
"It was so badly handled," Rai says of the Vita's once-impending shutdown. "The news was surprising at first. It's not like they're gonna keep the store open forever, but I think four months' notice is not a great timeline to close down all purchases. Then they reversed that decision but then they didn't make it very clear whether new games could come to the system.
"It was very soon, to have four months' notice. Developers had games they were making and those games couldn't come to the store, which is really disappointing. One of the final games was called Witchcrafty, which was actually pretty fun, but it was very much just part of the game because they didn't have time to finish it. I think that's really disappointing, knowing there were other games out there that could've come to the Vita, but because of Sony's short notice and the way they handled it, they didn't make it unfortunately."
Sony's treatment of the Vita was partly what drove Rai to write about it in the first place, not to mention the system's lower profile.
"I think it was around 2013 I started my YouTube channel [2 old 4 gaming] and since then I've put out hundreds of videos about the Vita, reviewing games, news, and so on," Rai tells GamesRadar. "It was around 2015, 2016 when I was reading Jeremy Parish's 'Game Boy World' and I just thought nobody would do this for the Vita. It wasn't a popular device, it kind of felt like one of these systems that gets underappreciated and forgotten. So why don't I do it? Why don't I write about the Vita? So the first book I did was basically about the Vita's launch and the first year of its life. And then the second one was continuing that with the next two years of its life when Sony was still supporting it, still doing games for it. And the next book was up to 2020 when it was being kept alive by Japanese and indie devs."
Though commercially unsuccessful, the Vita is a durable and endearing little thing, still turning up stories worth telling after all these years. And the fact that there's enough of an appetite among fans to super-fund a new book on the handheld speaks to its small but loyal community.
"I think it's like the Dreamcast, the underdog," Rai says. "You do root for those kinds of systems. I just wish more people had given it a chance. I think it is an awesome system that deserved better treatment, not just from customers but from Sony as well."
"I think if people actually try the Vita, they'd realize how awesome it is," he continues. "Because it didn't do well at the beginning, it didn't have that support, it got that reputation that it didn't have any games, I think people didn't give it a chance. Those that did give it a chance realize how awesome it is. I keep seeing people pop up on Twitter or my YouTube channel saying, 'I just bought a Vita, it's so awesome, there are so many great games.' Yes! I wish you'd done that in 2012. I think the device speaks for itself. It's got great games, I think it's more that people didn't give it a chance at the time. It just had that negative perception right out of the gate with memory cards, lack of games, and so people didn't give it the chance I think it deserved."
With Vita Means Life, Rai hopes to deliver "the definitive book of the Vita," with around 40 to 60 of its 400 pages being all-new content, and the rest collating and lightly updating his other works. He's currently planning to release the book around April 2022, but with these being uncertain times, that's just an estimate for now.
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