Should there be a new PlayStation portable? (Sony)
A reader makes an argument for Sony attempting a new portable console, to compete with the Switch and win back Japan.
I know what you’re thinking. The Nintendo Switch already meets your handheld gaming needs. The big PlayStation games are meant to be experienced on your big 4K TV. Sony’s last attempt with the PlayStation Vita was a flop.
Smartphones, tablets, and the Switch leave little room for another dedicated gaming handheld. And Sony themselves have, more or less, said they’re done with handhelds.
But humour me as I attempt to convince you (and myself), with five reasons why a new PlayStation handheld console, if done properly, could be worthwhile. Number 4 will SHOCK you! Etc.
1. PlayStation 5 remote play
Sometimes someone else wants to watch TV. Sometimes turning on the TV, and the console, and selecting the correct HDMI input, is just too much effort. Sometimes you want to game while lying down or sitting somewhere that isn’t in front of the TV (yes, there). For busy people, lazy people, and multi-taskers alike, the convenience of the Switch has been a revelation.
Sony already attempted the kind of functionality I’m thinking of here, with the PS4 Link on the PlayStation Vita. But not only was that badly marketed, it was also quite poorly implemented. I always had problems getting a stable connection, both via the internet and the direct Vita-to-PS4 connection. There was also the lack of R2/L2 triggers on the Vita.
But neither of those seem like insurmountable challenges. Of course, the PS5 Link would need to be at least as quick and painless to set up as, say, the Wii U controller was (ideally with better a range, and the option for remote play via Wi-Fi). It could also have similar neat functions if used as a controller when playing games on the TV, for example for mini-map displays and inventory management.
2. Some games are just better suited to handhelds
I’m thinking particularly here about indie games, which I’m more likely to purchase on Switch than the PlayStation Store, even with the Nintendo tax. But also games like Persona 5, which as much as I enjoyed on PlayStation 4, I often wished I had the option of playing in handheld mode to quickly grind through some battles or dialogue when I had a spare moment.
3. Keep the PlayStation back catalogue alive
For me, the issue with the limited backwards compatibility of the PlayStation 5 isn’t so much that I won’t be able to play older PlayStation 1, 2 and 3 discs on it. It’s that older games are becoming harder to (legally) access and play. With the PlayStation Store on Vita, I was able catch up on a number of PlayStation 1 and PlayStation Portable classics I missed, and revisit some old favourites when on the go.
The Nintendo model of allowing digital purchases (or subscription services) for emulating old games on new systems would also make more financial sense for Sony, than implementing backwards compatibility with old discs on PlayStation 5 (although of course having both options would be ideal). And handhelds are perfect for retro gaming. PlayStation 1 games still look pretty great on my Vita, but definitely do not look good on a 65-inch 4K TV.
4. Wireless PlayStation VR
As someone lucky enough to have never had problems with VR motion sickness, I love PlayStation VR. A main reason I don’t play it more often is the faffing around with cables. (That and the red mark it leaves on my ever-expanding forehead.) So what if the new PlayStation handheld had a super high resolution screen, which you could just strap to your face?
5. Recapture the Japanese video game market
Of all the reasons, I feel like this could be the most challenging. It’s well known that the home console market in Japan has been in steady decline, so remote play of PlayStation 5 games wouldn’t cut it as a main selling point for a new Sony handheld over there. Sony would still need exclusive killer apps developed specifically for the handheld, particularly by Japanese studios. I’m obviously thinking of things like Monster Hunter, responsible for the huge success of the original PlayStation Portable in Japan. Easier said than done.
So there you have it. As I’m sure the internet will agree, five rock-solid, indisputable and easy-to-implement reasons for Sony to make a new PlayStation handheld. And definitely not an incompatible mix of half-baked ideas I came up with when I should be working.
Do I think it will happen? On balance, probably not (see opening paragraph). And even if it did, I’m not filled with confidence that Sony would support it properly given their track-record with the Vita.
That said, I’d be surprised if Sony hadn’t at least given it some serious thought, following the success of the Switch. Ah, what the hell – my outsider prediction for 2021 is that solid rumours of a new Sony handheld will start to emerge, and it will be announced in 2022. You read it here first!
By reader Jammo
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
For more stories like this, check our Gaming page.