For indie devs, the Vita's niche audience is what makes it a viable platform

Glixel spoke with a number of developers and publishers that still bring games to Sony's neglected handheld, seeking to explore how the Vita has become a haven for indie games.
"Any time you have a system that gets kind of neglected by its parent company, you find this hardcore passionate fanbase ready to support anything that's coming out for it."

- Limited Run Games co-founder Josh Fairhurst on how indies are finding success on the Vita.

While the PlayStation Vita remains popular in Japan, Sony’s latest handheld release never really found a foothold in the West. But a number of developers and publishers speaking to Glixel note that the handheld’s small but passionate userbase is actually what makes developing games for it so worthwhile.

While platforms like Steam are are retooling their digital storefronts to increase visibility, developers releasing games for the Vita typically don't have to fight for shelf space. Because many big developers have stopped creating games for the platform, the limited number of new releases hitting the Vita means that indie developers are able to get more visibility than they typically would on other modern platforms.

"Even if you just release an indie game on PS4 or Xbox, you get drowned by other stuff. Most mainstream game news sites don't even have a Vita section anymore, but it's still a great platform for a small independent developer,” explains Arcade Distillery’s Luc Bernard.

“It's not making us rich, but if you make a decent game that's targeted for the device, you can make a predictable number of sales, be profitable, and continue to employ people. In this day and age, that's huge. We have around nine people working at Arcade Distillery, and that's because of the Vita.”

At the same time, the Vita’s lackluster hardware sales in the West mean that the players that do own the handheld have become very good at supporting the indie games that opt to launch on it. Limited Run Games, for example, has a number of games headed to the Vita in the near future.

Limited Run co-founder Josh Fairhurst shared Oddworld: New ’n’ Tasty as an example of the Vita’s supportive fanbase in action. Originally the company only produced 2,500 physical Vita copies of the game. While those sold out almost instantly, the 5,000 PlayStation 4 copies sold at a much slower pace.

“We started to boost the number of Vita versions we release,” said Fairhurst. “The audience is just so passionate, and so thankful for content."

For more from indie developers and publishers on how the Vita’s unique offerings have helped cultivate an indie-friendly platform, head over to Glixel to check out the full story.

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