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When Will Sony Make a New Portable Console?

by Brian 2 months ago in playstation / handheld / feature / console
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Do they even need to any more?

Vita has been done for a while, and the Switch practically has no competition.

With the Nintendo Switch going so strong and the Steam Deck breaking into the portable space, a lot of people are asking when Sony will bring out some portable hardware to compete.

Sony have before, and they tried their best to make it work, but Nintendo have ruled that niche solo for several generations making any serious attempt at entering the market a major struggle. While the PSP was moderately successful, the Vita didn’t quite hit the spot, a clusterfuck of problematic issues severely limited its growth as a platform.

Poor timing, the Vita hit the market right when mobile gaming was in its prime. People didn’t want to pay premium for games on the go when they could play them for free on their phones. And unlike the 3DS, The Vita didn’t have an established user-base to carry it through as a platform.

Bad press. Video game related media were ridiculously critical of the system and its software for the entirety of its lifetime. Some of that was deserved, a lot of it was not.

Proprietary memory cards. Sony should have learned this with the PSP, but they didn’t, they doubled down and made them even more expensive. And if you planned to purchase your games digitally, you needed one of a decent size.

An oversight on the physical design. It only had two triggers and that touchpad just wasn’t a reasonable substitute. It really limited a lot of its features.

They didn’t make a big enough deal about remote play. I know not everyone found it a useful feature but I knew a lot of people that would have bought one just for that, they just didn’t know what it could do. Anyone that has to share a TV and have limited playtime because of it. Remote play was my sanity saver when my kids were young and watched the same three movies a billion times.

In some ways, the Vita was ahead of its time. Sony tried to make it a companion to the PS4 and tie in the portable and home console into a single experience. They didn’t do a great job of promoting that vision, and the infrastructure wasn’t there at first, the remote play feature was kind of wasted because it was only usable on a wifi connection.

It wasn’t until the Vita was officially obsolete that remote play could be used on a mobile plan.

Despite the negativity, the Vita was a really solid piece of hardware though. But it flopped hard, partially because Sony didn’t go all-in on it, and partly because the market resisted it in a number of ways.

The problem is, now it’s too late. The window is gone. Nintendo is the only holdout and only because they aren’t performance focused with a strong lineup of very exclusive software. And with portable PCs entering the market, the portable space is soon going to be saturated.

But communication technology has advanced a great deal since the inception of the Vita. Sony no longer really need to make their own dedicated portable hardware. They’ve refined their remote play feature in the PS5, it’s useable on more devices and it’s not tied strictly to wifi anymore. The technology is there now.

With a phone and a mobile controller, you can access and play your PS5 virtually anywhere. They didn’t even need to make an official controller, Backbone did it for them. Sony even officially endorsed it and that is probably as close as we’re going to get to a new PlayStation handheld.

Basically, Sony no longer need to make a portable console, they already pretty much have the equivalent of one, they just need to bring all the pieces together and actually promote it.

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About the author

Brian

Doing my best to keep on keeping on. I’m a quiet guy with a quiet life and I like it that way.

I like spending time with my family, cooking, fantasy fiction, video games, anime and archery.

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