A Direct Comparison; 3DS vs Vita

A History in Battle

There’s a lot of history in this pairing. The battle of 3DS and Vita; of Nintendo and Sony hand-helds. It goes back close to ten years. Back to 2004 and the initial release of the PSP.

There was a lot of hype behind the PSP and it managed to deliver on that hype, initially. Selling well enough in Japan, North America and Europe to be called a resounding success, the PSP – A hand-held 3D powerhouse of the likes we’d never seen before – looked fit to win out against the DS. The sales were great, the concept was great.

The DS was nothing to scoff at either, sporting two screens and touch-screen capability, it went a different direction from the PSP. The DS had the PSP blown out of the water before it even got in. Selling out completely in Japan, close to it in North America and successfully in Europe, it was already a revolution in hand-held gaming.

The DS managed to hold on to its momentum and become the second-best selling gaming device of all time. The PSP did manage to pick up sales and sell a hefty amount of units, but it was never quite considered a success by consumers despite selling more units than both the PS3 and Xbox 360.

A New Generation to Take Up Arms

Taking on a similar form to the battle of the DS and PSP, the 3DS released prior to the Vita armed with non-glasses 3D. It didn’t quite manage to springboard off of the success of the DS, but due to the late release of the Vita it had plenty of time for damage control. A few months after release, the 3DS saw a drop in price and Ambassador Titles at the expense of Satoru Iwata’s wages. Following the price cut, the sales of the 3DS picked up a lot and it was considered a success.

Sony also stepped up their game, increasing the power of the Vita, adding a touch-screen and a long-awaited second analogue stick, it was – for a time – looking like the perfect handheld device. Releasing almost a year after the 3DS, the Vita had a lot of catching up to do. Many problems littered its launch. The ‘lacking’ library. The cost of memory. The console’s price. The Vita didn’t quite see the sales it was looking for and – following its predecessor; the PSP – was considered a failure by consumers. Touted as having no games, it never had much of a chance – especially with Sony backing it half-heartedly.

I’ve always been interesting in comparing these consoles. I have both and have played both around the same amount of time, but is there really such a big difference in the size of the libraries?

Month-By-Month 3DS vs Vita comparison

Firstly, as a note, I left out Digital 3DS titles due to there being very little focus on them from Nintendo. DS, PSP, PS1, PSM and Minis have been left out to keep the numbers as ‘pure’ – developed for the console in question – as possible. I have an interest to go back and do this again, but this time including 3DS Digital titles. The problem with doing so is the abundance of shovelware and puzzle games on the 3DS Store which would greatly skew the numbers in the 3DS‘ favour (by over 100 games).

3DS vs VitaMake of this what you will. What I glean from this chart is that the 3DS isn’t quite so far ahead of the Vita in terms of library. Nintendo has an incredibly loyal fan-base, a great marketing campaign and were smart enough to make a price drop when the 3DS wasn’t selling. Sony have incredibly loyal fans – for home consoles, a focus on digital content without marketing it and have yet to drop the price of the console or, more importantly, the price of memory to further encourage users to buy digitally.

Who won?

If you’ve come here asking the question; “should I buy a 3DS or Vita?”

Well, I really can’t answer that for you. There are many benefits to both consoles and the only way to choose is to do your own research. They both have strong libraries and are a pleasure to own, but they also have their cons. But whatever console you choose, make sure you keep an open mind and don’t just trash the other because it’s not the one you bought.

You decide.

  • Noko

    Wow, didn’t know the Vita had so many games, Will have to look into getting one!

    • Rixhas Eldricht

      It really is something not a lot of people realise. It’s all down to really bad marketing (or total lack thereof) from Sony.

  • Doomlord

    I own a Vita, DS, and PSP myself. My little brother has a 3DS. I had hands-on with all of them. Personally, I find the 3DS a hardware update of the DSi due to lackluster in the 3D function and the annoyance of thr joypad. The Vita stepped up its game. I always try to doubt Sony hardware but see no reason to. Touch screen, touchpad, 2 joysticks. Sony is right to shift focus of the Vita’s content from big-budget hitters to indie support. Low-budget Indie is a field that the 3DS lacks and what could “Save the Vita.” Along with a price drop to $150-$200 and cut costs of memory cards by 50%.

    • Rixhas Eldricht

      I’m not a big fan of the 3D myself, I almost always have it turned off (only turning it on the first time I play to check how it has improved). The Vita did step up its game, but so did the 3DS. With their massive focus on digital content, Sony really do need to 1) Add larger memory cards and 2) lower the price of the currently available cards by at least 20%.

  • http://kennethreitz.com Kenneth Reitz

    I own both, and I find the games available for the 3DS to be excellent compared to the Vita’s. They really don’t compete with eachother, in my opinion.

    3DS is a GameBoy. Vita is a portable home console.

    • Rixhas Eldricht

      They both have their downsides. Vita lacks a really strong (non-ported) title and 3DS hasn’t got enough third-party focus. They’re both great and suited to different people and I look forward to seeing them further develop and hopefully surpass their predecessors.

      • http://kennethreitz.com Kenneth Reitz

        Well said!

      • collin

        3ds has already surpassed it’s predecessors in my opinion. Way More games I like for 3ds than DS.

  • A Wild Stranger

    I think something that should be mentioned is that Sony has been hinting that the Vita will be integrated more with the PS4 (for those that will be getting one) but however will not be required for the PS4 to run. Just something for those who can’t decide but is also planning on getting a PS4.

    However, Nintendo has Pokemon.

    • Rixhas Eldricht

      If we do any more posts comparing the 3DS and Vita, that will be included. The only reason it wasn’t included this time was because it’s a future implementation and while they’re saying it’ll work with all PS4 games, I’ll reserve judgement for now until it actually happens.

    • Kafke

      However, Nintendo has Pokemon. And Mario. And Zelda. And Animal Crossing. And Donkey Kong. And Star Fox. And countless other amazing titles.

      Vita has Persona, Little Big Planet, Sly Cooper, and Jak and Daxter.

      • Rixhas Eldricht

        What I’m reading from this is “Nintendo have some games they’ve been releasing for a while and so do Sony”. Though, most of the Sony listings there aren’t First Party.

        • J.j. Barrington

          Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe only half of the games on Kafke’s list aren’t first party.

          That said, we can also expect God of War, Uncharted, Gran Turismo, and who knows how many new IPs.

          • Rixhas Eldricht

            I did say *aren’t* First Party. I expect when the Vita sees more First Party games, we’ll be seeing more non-First Party titles on 3DS, though.

          • J.j. Barrington

            You also said “most.”

        • Kafke

          My point was the vita, while have several good games, still pales in comparison to the 3DS.

          The comment I was responding to basically said: “no matter how good the vita is, or what the games are, the 3ds has pokemon”.

          My response was to demonstrate that there were plenty of system sellers on both sides.

          I’d say the 3DS has more, but that’s just my opinion. Sony titles really haven’t caught my eye. But someone could say the same of Nintendo games, so I left that part out.

  • rikukey2

    If you have the money you should buy both they both have a lot of great games I just hope they annouce more rpgs this e3. I have both and I enjoy them its just going to be complicated for me the next few weeks trying to play between muramasa rebirth and project x zone cause they both release on the 25.

    • Rixhas Eldricht

      I like your taste 😉

      • rikukey2

        Thanks ; )

  • rikukey2

    I was reading the list and I didnt notice muramasa for the vita not there I hope they didnt cancell it : (

    • Rixhas Eldricht

      Muramasa was a title I accidentally overlooked. It’s releasing at the end of this month in NA, but has no date for EU (where I’m from) and I forgot to add it because of that.

  • J.j. Barrington

    Project X Zone and SMT 4 are duplicated near the end of the list.

    • Rixhas Eldricht

      Oh wow. That’s a massive error. Thanks for pointing that one out. I’ll fix it on my local version.

  • linkenski

    If i can get a new sort of MGS Peace Walker game on VITA then i’m buying that console. Until then i’ll be playing Mario, Zelda, Luigi and Ace Attorney till the end of days on the 3DS.

  • collin

    Seems like you went through a lot of effort but you still do little to prove your point. When people say “no games” they mean, “no GOOD games.” Instead of chronicling all the releases you could just list all of the games with a score of over 7 (or 70) on medacritic. Most gamers are very unlikely to buy or thoroughly enjoy games that generally get below this mark. (yes there is always one maybe two 6’s that appeal to me- but that’s all.)

    Futhermore you list PSN games and retail games for vita but only retail games for the 3ds. That seems like a large oversight since there are many eshop games.

    Lastly I would like to remove all of the ports from the list because most gamers have already played these games and it’s not a real reason to buy a system but just nice if you already do own it. This also eliminates a lot of the e-shop but I don’t know about PSN.

    (without eliminations) I counted 97 games over 70 for 3DS and 75 Games for the Vita. Now account for one year’s difference and it’s pretty similar. (This took 1% the of your effort i’m sure.)

    As for an individual who wants to decide what to buy, look at the list and see which has more games YOU LIKE. For me the 3ds has way more games I like. Only 1 game I’d like to play that is a vita exclusive though- mercenaries. Vita can be described as for “hardcore gamers” and 3ds usually gets attributed with “inventive (more creative kinds of games and gameplay) and casual (less convoluted game-play).”

  • kevinodonnell91

    I’d go as far as to call the Vita the best handheld console of all time, just saying.
    Good read, Jordan.

    • Ryan Mc Donagh

      Here, here! An amazing machine, I just hope it gets more AAA support soon.

  • http://BananaRadar.Com Siddhartha gatlin

    So the 3DS may have seemingly better games, but the vita has way better games like borderlands and terraria that the 3DS can’t handle because the controls are too damn crappy. I own a 3DS and a VITA and my gaming time goes to the VITA more. The 3DS has Pokemon Mario and Zelda as its only argument. While vita has borderlands killzone call of duty uncharted and many others. The 3DS has crappy graphics and controls, But the VITA has amazing graphics and outstanding controls. The VITA has more AAA games while the 3DS has to survive on a plumber that has existed for years and years. The vita is by far the better choice here.