It looks like the PlayStation Vita will be losing a few pieces of functionality in the coming months, including Maps, Near and even the YouTube app. For those of you who frequently watch videos while trying to locate off the beaten path restaurants where you plan to meet new friends you discovered through Near, I imagine this comes as a triple-dose of bummerdom.
To be fair, I’m not entirely sure many people utilize two of those applications listed above, mainly Maps and Near. The Maps app isn’t super useful unless you have one of those rare 3G Vita models and I’m not sure anyone has ever given Near more than a passing glance.
When the Vita launched, it seemed like the Near app was basically Sony’s answer to Nintendo’s StreetPass. You could see who was playing what games within a few miles, send them a friend invite, rate your games and, for a handful of titles, exchange in-game goods. It was good in theory, but the app itself was a confusing mess and, other than Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Assassin’s Creed: Liberation, not a lot of games made the Near functionality all that useful.
In other words, I doubt many people will be sad to see Maps or Near go.
According to the official announcement, both Maps and Near will be disabled during a system software update planned for March, 2015.
“Functionalities of the applications will be removed automatically once users update their PlayStation Vita,” reads the announcement. “The disablement of features will not affect gameplay.”
The YouTube app, on the other hand, likely gets quite a bit of use on Sony’s portable console. I use it all the time to check out trailers and videos I’ve heard about when I don’t feel like firing up the computer for something so minor. It’s also been handy on more than a few road trips when I was bored out of my mind and didn’t feel like playing a game.
According to today’s second announcement, the YouTube app will no longer be supported after April 20, 2015. The application itself will no longer be available to download after today.
The good news, though, is that you can still access YouTube via the Vita’s browser just fine, so you’re only talking about a minor annoyance of two extra button clicks over just diving straight into a dedicated app.
Losing support for these services might not actually be Sony’s call, so I’m not sure how to take today’s news. I’d like to see the Vita keep going for years to come but, given a lack of AAA game support and moves like this, it’s hard not to feel discouraged.
The good news is, the Vita still has a bunch of other entertainment apps and, you know, it stil plays games! Especially indies. Lots and lots of indies*.
*This is not a bad thing.