What If InFAMOUS Came To Vita?
In the world of video games there are so many stories untold, and consequently, there are numerous combinations and permutations of events that, had a developer or publisher pursued an alternate path, or had a change of plans not occurred, could have shaped the industry or the fortunes of said developer/publisher very differently. In What If? we speculate on what could have been had circumstances played out differently. Today let’s look at how the fortunes of the PlayStation Vita could have changed if only PlayStation had brought InFAMOUS to it.
We all know the story of the PlayStation Vita. Launched in late 2011 in Japan and early 2022 in the West, the PlayStation Vita was an incredible piece of technology. An OLED screen, a connection to the PlayStation Network that far surpassed anything Nintendo was achieving with the DS/3DS family of systems, touch features on both the front and back of the platform, and much more, but the one thing it didn’t have, was first party support. After the launch window of the platform wasn’t the smoothest, despite the extremely positive reception of titles like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, the writing was on the wall quite early on that PlayStation simply wasn’t willing to lend its first-party resources to the platform much longer.
Uncharted Golden Abyss, its spinoff Fight For Fortune, fellow launch title Gravity Rush and then Freedom Wars from Japan Studio, Media Molecule’s Tearaway, and Guerilla Cambridge (RIP) put out the wonderful Killzone: Mercenary. Outside of multiplatform launches like several Ratchet & Clank’s, Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time, and PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale, all of which were primarily PS3 games, but came to the Vita as well, that was it for Sony’s internal resources being used on the Vita. All other support came in the form of remastered collections, third party titles, or impressive indie support. Things were pretty dire, but what if InFAMOUS had come to the platform as well?
What Could Have Been?
In a lengthy chat with GameInfomer as a part of their month long showcase of 2019 PS4 title, Days Gone, we learned from then-Bend Studio Game Director, Jeff Ross, that they had, at one point had plans and ideas for an InFAMOUS game for the PlayStation Vita. Ross stated, “We talked about it for a while, yeah. John [Garvin] had some really cool ideas for that by the way, it was… Yeah, I guess we’re revealing that–” before being cut off by then-Director Garvin. How close the studio actually came to being greenlit remains to be seen, but several reports from well-connected insiders over the years all suggested that we might have been tantalisingly close to a Vita InFAMOUS title being a reality.
What Could Have Changed?
Would InFAMOUS have saved the trajectory of the Vita? Not necessarily. PlayStation themselves, due to some exploits found in the Vita were pretty keen to put the platform to rest, but fan backlash is the only thing that even today keeps the PlayStation Network alive on the platform. What InFAMOUS on Vita might have done though was multi-faceted.
Firstly, the InFAMOUS IP has not been seen since the 2014 releases of InFAMOUS: Second Son and its spinoff, InFAMOUS: First Light; since then, developer Sucker Punch has gone on to work on the beloved Ghost Of Tsushima and seems set on leaving InFAMOUS behind them. A new title on the Vita, presumably arriving sometime after the pair of PS4 titles, would perhaps have played a part in keeping the franchise alive today despite the rapid growth of DC and Marvel characters in the video game realm.
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, it might have shown PlayStation and its many third party partners that the platform was worth persisting with. It may be forgotten by some, but in 2011, Ken Levine, the creative genius behind the Bioshock franchise stepped onto PlayStation’s E3 stage to announce that a new Bioshock game would be coming to the Vita. At the time Levine said, “It’s a different project. It’s its own thing being built from the ground up that is going to be strange and surprising to people. I think we always want to surprise people. If I’m just saying ‘Here’s BioShock 1 on Vita’, that’s something we could potentially do, but you don’t need us to do that. Somebody can make that happen.”
Sadly the game never came to be with Levine tweeting out in 2014 that a deal between publisher 2K and Sony couldn’t come together, while also providing some insight into what type of game it could have become. In those tweets he said, “2K and Sony couldn’t put a deal together when I last checked. They seemed way more optimistic about this back in 2011,” but when questioned further by fans, Levine went on to describe the nature of the game a bit too, describing it as “Final Fantasy Tactics style thing set in pre-fall Rapture.”
The presence of InFAMOUS and Bioshock, two of the biggest hitting IP of the time might have resulted in a greatly improved sales trajectory for the Vita and potentially might have enticed others to work with PlayStation on the platform further. Instead it was well fed by indies and smaller niche JRPGs and little more meaning that the platform, despite being home to some excellent games, never got the necessary foothold to become a fighting force in the scene.
We’ll never know how close we actually got to InFAMOUS on the Vita, or by extension how close we were to a Final Fantasy Tactics-inspired Bioshock game, but what we do know is that a fantastic handheld was cut off at the knees due to a lack of proper AAA-quality support. Missed opportunities like this have sadly both held back the InFAMOUS and Bioshock franchises, their fanbases, and even PlayStation’s chances of making the Vita succeed. Maybe one day…
Is This The Good Timeline?
Sadly, no. We missed out on more InFAMOUS, more Bioshock, and a chance at more Vita support, and that’s a potential future I regularly feel sad that we never got.
That ends this entry of Video Games What If? How might things have played out had InFAMOUS come to the Vita in your eyes? Let us know through all of our social channels, we’d love to hear your theories too!