A new design patent suggests that the PlayStation Vita might not be the end of the line for Sony’s handheld console lineup (via TechTastic). The patent shows the design of an electronic game cartridge attributed to Sony Interactive Entertainment filed in South Korea last year before the Korean intellectual property right information service (KIPRIS) made it public this month.
Since this is a design patent there’s little in the way of detail about how the cartridge might function (although we know it’ll be made out of metal and synthetic resin), but it suggests that Sony is at least considering a followup to the PlayStation Vita, which was widely considered to be a failure. The handheld console sold just 16 million units, compared to the 73 million units of its competitor, Nintendo’s 3DS, and the 80 million sold by its predecessor, the PSP. The Vita is due to finally cease production in Japan next year.
Although Sony currently maintains that it has no plans for a new handheld device, back in May Sony’s new PlayStation chief John Kodera implied that Sony is still interested in the area and said that he saw portable gaming as, “one method to deliver more gaming experiences.” However, these comments could just as easily refer to an expansion of Sony’s existing game streaming efforts, which have previously made it possible to stream PS4 games to compatible Sony phones.
It’s always worth remembering that companies like Sony file dozens of applications like this every year for devices and technologies that might never see the light of day. Patents hinting at a Vita successor have been found dating back to 2015, although these ambiguous designs could also be hinting at a controller with a built-in screen.