Between Switch and Steam Deck, Sony must explore the PS Vita 2

The PlayStation Vita was ahead of its time. In 2011/2012 when it launched, handheld and console games were largely separate entities, and the Vita shattered the two in spectacular fashion, promising the ability to play console games like Unexplored Ready to go. The technology was amazing. We have had unique console-level experiences in the palms of our hands. Remote reading (also ahead of its time) added another utility to what the Vita could do. Vita was a PlayStation in your hands. Vita was an extension of your console. Vita was life.

But Vita was also a radical idea launched in a gaming market that clearly wasn’t ready for it, struggling with too many expensive hurdles like proprietary memory, and without Sony’s full backing and backing over time. . Developer interest in the platform has waned. Sony’s interest in the platform has waned. And public interest in the platform has waned. Vita, which means life, is dead.

Nintendo Switch has changed the game

But elsewhere, work continued, evolving the idea of ​​bridging that divide between console and handheld. Sony might be ahead of its time with the Vita, but if one company can make seemingly crazy ideas acceptable, it’s actually Nintendo. After all, look at how Nintendo normalized the era of motion controls with the Wii, the effects of which we still see to this day. Sony couldn’t do “console games on the go” with the Vita key, but House Mario changed the rules of the game in 2017 with the Switch.

To be honest, when the Nintendo Switch was first announced, I scoffed at the idea. “Pfft, Vita did it first,” I muttered to all the excited Nintendo fans. But it was just my own bitterness over the failures of the Vita, watching a platform that I wanted to see thrive instead. Nintendo took the idea and perfected it. A hybrid pocket console. A device that sits somewhere in between, perfectly adaptable to any situation. Of course, it’s not the most powerful device on the market, but that hasn’t stopped it from selling exceptionally well, becoming a staple gaming device in many homes. It’s just as well suited for lounging on the sofa and playing on a large TV as it is for taking it on the go for quick gaming sessions away from home.

Suddenly, the line between console games and handheld games blurred. And it sparked even more ideas as the rest of the gaming industry responded.

Today we saw pre-orders for Valve’s Steam Deck, an aggressively priced pocket PC that looks like the next evolution of SEGA Game Gear. The Steam Deck lets you play your Steam library on a handheld, has the ability to connect to a TV to use it as a “home PC console” and is even an open platform with tons of possibilities. under the hood, like letting gamers install Windows and run Xbox Game Pass.

Again, the idea is a bridge between console (or in this case, PC) gaming into an accessible format on the go that was barely imaginable when the Vita launched 10 years ago. While the Vita promised “console-level” experiences, it still largely had a separate library of games that were actually “smaller” versions of their bigger console brethren. There was always a clear line between the console and the handheld, places the handheld just couldn’t go. Now, however? This line has disappeared. Between the Nintendo Switch and the Steam Deck, console / PC games and handheld games have become one and the same.

steam bridge ps vita 2

Even Microsoft is exploring beyond the confines of the home console in many ways, maybe not with an explicit portable device (yet), but the likes of Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming do a lot to give people access. to console experiences anywhere.

And yet, with the PS5, Sony feels like it has moved in the opposite direction in many ways. The console itself is physically bigger than ever and harder to transport. It won’t even fit GAEMS boxes, which previously offered at least some level of portability to the PS4. It still has the remote gaming functionality and the PlayStation Now and PC ports of its games, but among the major players in the gaming space, Sony feels the least concerned with expanding gaming experiences beyond. limits of its console in an easily accessible way.

What a PS Vita 2 needs to be successful

But Sony was one of the first. We won’t forget the PlayStation Vita, which crawled for Switch and Steam Deck to walk and run. Vita, which means life, may now be a relic of the decade-old industry, but it proves that Sony has what it takes to make a quality portable device. And with the continued refinement of the idea of ​​bridging the console / PC and laptop gaming experiences, Sony now has a clearer plan than ever before for what could go into a great PS Vita 2.

What it looks like exactly, I’m not sure. But the main selling points of the Switch and the Steam Deck are that they’re not separate ecosystems. There is no Switch game library docked against Switch. Everything is the same. Steam Deck is actually a portable gaming PC with access to your existing Steam library. Even outside of handhelds, one of the most important aspects of the new generation of consoles is backwards compatibility with your existing game libraries.

ps5 vita 2

For a PS Vita 2 to be successful, Sony would have to think about how best to link the handheld to your PSN account and give you access to the wealth of games and content you already own. This is why people are so on board with the Steam Deck. It’s just a device that gives them a new way to play, not a whole new ecosystem. Selling gear is much easier when you can tell potential buyers that they already have a pre-existing game library on hand. Developer hardware support is also higher as it is not a dedicated, isolated platform. This part of support is imperative for the success of a potential successor to Vita. A Vita that plays games on the PlayStation console has ongoing automatic developer support right from the start.

The biggest hurdle here is the fact that Sony isn’t likely to make a handheld powerful enough to run PS5 games (and if they do, that thing would get expensive!), So we’re already facing some potential problems. But this is where you can really start looking for answers on Switch and Steam Deck. A limited number of third-party Switch games that wouldn’t be possible on base hardware running through cloud streaming. Steam Deck probably won’t run PC games on ultra settings, but it’s a small price to pay to take those games anywhere with you, and you always have your computer on hold if you want to increase the quality.

Somewhere here is the perfect plan for Sony and the hypothetical PS Vita 2. Maybe Sony could even turn to Microsoft or Stadia for answers. While PS5 games may be off the table in portable format (except via Remote Play / Cloud streaming), could a PS Vita 2 play into the future strategy Sony may have for PlayStation Now and the future of its services? cloud streaming? Perhaps the alleged partnership with Netflix could play a role as well. But it needs to bridge the gap between handheld gaming and home gaming seamlessly.

PS vita 2

Anyway, I think two things are true. The first is that there is room for Sony to re-explore its entry into the handheld market. There is a demand for quality gaming experiences on the go. Second, if there is room for a PS Vita 2, it has to have the right strategy and meet the right kind of need for PlayStation gamers. An isolated ecosystem is likely to kill the handheld when it does not gain developer support and subsequently gain an audience due to a lack of library. So it needs to become a game add-on rather than a whole new full-fledged platform or else we’ll see it go when Sony gets bored of trying to support it, buyers are reluctant to buy it and third parties won’t. do not. I don’t want to develop for that.

The Nintendo Switch and Steam Deck showed not only the capabilities of handheld games, but also the desire people have to play their console and PC games on the go. The time has come, Sony. It’s time for a real portable PlayStation; a new era of “PlayStation Portable”. PS Vita 2.

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