From Dreamcast to Vita, the consoles that won't die

SeaKnight By SeaKnight, 6th Nov 2017 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Technology>Games

When Sega canned the Dreamcast, something strange happened. Instead of migrating to the next console, as people had done for generations, developers and players hung on to it, creating a community that still rolls on to this day. Sony's recently canned Vita is going the same way, showing that we won't always do what the marketers tell us.

The Dreamcast Lives

Sega's Dreamcast was the company's last piece of home console hardware, a cutting edge 32-bit monster capable of bringing intense arcade games like Soul Calibur and House of the Dead to home screens. Released in 1998/99 ahead of the PlayStation 2, it oversaw a sea-change in gaming attitude, from a focus on arcade ports to original more in-depth titles that were better enjoyed at home, while its modem gave us the first chance to fall in love with online console gaming.

In a little over two years, Dreamcast sold 10 million units. But hindered by western developer's focus on Xbox and PlayStation 2, lack of a DVD-playing drive and weak support from major publishers like EA, it didn't pick up the wider fan base needed for success.

Instead, Sega started publishing its games on other consoles, but fans kept their Dreamcasts, and smaller publishers kept rolling out games, and continue to do so to this day. They either self-publish of use crowdfunding, as in the case of Intrepid Izzy , a recently Kickstarted platform game to bring a roster of eclectic titles.

Vita Means Life

When Sony's first handheld, the PSP (PlayStation Portable) console sold over 80 million units, the company must have felt a successor would be a surefire hit. Enter the PlayStation Vita in 2011, which gained a lot of interest, but failed to sell in huge numbers as smartphone use and mobile games started to dominate the landscape.

Instead of full-on abandoning the Vita like Sega did with Dreamcast, Sony went the quiet route, signing up indie developers and maintaining a base level support, that kept it ticking over in the west in small numbers, while sales in Japan stayed healthy until earlier in 2017, when they finally started to fall.

This mix of Japanese games translated for a western audience and key indies like Spelunky, Fez, Downwell and Bastion keep the Vita going, even as Sony moved to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR. The latest titles such as Cursed Castilla and Demon Gaze II keep new buyers rummaging around second-hand stores to find Vita consoles in good condition.

Now Sony has finally culled the Vita, in the west at least, its fate remains in the hands of a small number of publishers and developers. They continue to bring games despite no promise of great sales, and challenged by what is hellishly old processor and graphics technology compared to the latest smartphones or consoles they are used to developing for. With a great little community around the Vita it is the latest console that won't go quietly into the night.


Consoles, Dreamcast, Gaming, Sega, Sony, Vita

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Tech writer focused on how it can change the world, for better or worse

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