Oliver Cragg / Android Authority
If Sony’s world-class PlayStation brand does not compete with Nintendo Switch in the field of handheld devices, it is not because of lack of experimentation. Between 2004 and 2019, the company launched three different handheld computers: PSP, PSP Go and PlayStation Vita. There are many smaller variants, but none can replace Nintendo. As far as Vita is concerned, Switch is just the last nail in the coffin-Vita’s specifications were last updated in 2013.
Just catching up with the Switch requires a lot of changes, not to mention implementing the most advanced games seen on mobile phones, PCs, tablets, and living room consoles. However, Sony can do something to build on the tradition of Vita and even justify the launch of a dedicated new PlayStation portable device in the 2020s.
You can also take a look: PlayStation history-all consoles to date
1. Provide access to all PS4 and PS5 games and PlayStation Now
When Sony was active in the handheld field, one thing it liked was to narrow down the derivatives of the main PlayStation franchise. This includes portable-based “God of War” and “Uncharted”, as well as third-party franchises such as “Grand Theft Auto” and “Metal Gear.” Some of them are really great, but as Sony’s history shows, the branch of flagship games is not a huge draw. Other things being equal, you may prefer a version of the game with better graphics, controls, and (often) content.
What may make this machine a killer is to pair it with the improved version of PlayStation Now.
This is why the successor of Vita needs to support as many PS4 and PS5 games as possible. Smaller screens and texture resolutions help to achieve this on mobile chips and displays, because even 1080p will look exceptionally sharp on a 7-inch screen.
What may make the machine a killer is to pair it with an improved version of PlayStation Now, which is a subscription service that provides download and streaming services at the same time. In theory, PlayStation Now should be better than Xbox’s Game Pass and Cloud Gaming, because it contains a larger game library-including some games that can be traced back to the PS2 era. In practice, this is a weak sale because it does not offer any current-generation games or first-day releases like Xbox’s popular services. Solving this problem is mainly a business issue, and since Now is not accessible on Android or iOS, the upgrade can help people use Sony hardware in general, including any potential new PlayStation portable devices.
2. Internal (and non-proprietary) storage
One of the most outdated aspects of Vita-both now and when it was released-is its storage solution. The product originally came with zero internal storage, and when it got some in the 2013 version, it was stuck at 1GB. In fact, you must purchase a dedicated Vita memory card with a size between 4GB and 64GB.
This is the result of Sony’s notorious preference for proprietary formats-the company used to promote the practical use of technologies such as Betamax, MiniDisc and MemoryStick for a long time. From Sony’s point of view, this provides the greatest degree of control and has the potential to become an industry standard. Of course, consumers only care about functionality, compatibility and price. The latter is also truly distressing. Compared with ordinary SD cards, the price of Vita memory cards is too high.
You can also take a look: 5 things we want to see in Xbox portable game consoles
In order to remain relevant to modern games, new PlayStation portable devices must have internal NVMe storage, just like the better tier on Valve’s Steam platform. It also needs to support non-proprietary SD cards to keep up with the expansion library. In turn, these may have to be based on the SD Express standard-otherwise it may hinder compatibility with PS5 games that take advantage of the high speed of console SSDs.
3. Turn the rear touchpad into a front touchpad
Vita can be said to be advanced in terms of diversified control options. It is not only equipped with a touch screen and dual analog joysticks, but also a motion sensor and a rear “touch pad” for more precise input. The closest device is the unreleased Steam Deck (above).
However, anyone who has used Vita can prove that the touchpad was misjudged. Few developers think there is a reason to take advantage of it, and even fewer implement post-touch controls to enhance the experience (Tearaway is the notable exception). It should not appear on the back of the product. It is impossible to see where the fingers are going, and it is easy to accidentally type on the keyboard.
Despite this, the front-facing trackpad is still valuable and is mainly used in strategy games and first-person shooters. Steam Deck is not one but two, and they can be combined with motion sensing to achieve precise aiming and movement in FPS games. Even a single touchpad can enhance any next-generation Sony product.
4. Bringing DualSense haptics to handheld devices
Sarah Chaney/Android Authority
Haptics are usually not the selling point of games, but in the case of DualSense, they may make dedicated handheld devices more sexy than phones and tablets. It is difficult to achieve immersion using mobile devices, and a good sense of touch is one of the few solutions.
Of course, Sony must equip it with sufficient motor batteries and overall improvements to the Vita control scheme—for example, mirroring the buttons and triggers available for PS5 players. It can also provide larger and more robust analog joysticks from the beginning-over the years, the cottage industry around Vita joystick upgrades has developed, which is very convincing.
5. Cross-platform everything
Adamya Sharma / Android Authority
If the handheld computer can play the same games as PS4 or PS5, it should also be able to account, save and set up. Cross-device synchronization is becoming more and more common in the PC/Xbox world, so it seems arbitrary for Sony to split game consoles and handheld devices again.
Where Sony may need to promote is cross-buying and cross-playing. Competitor Microsoft increasingly recognizes that sales are sales, and people are not eager to buy the same thing twice. Although many games support cross-buying, Sony did not fully follow this concept in the Vita era, and can quickly destroy itself by requiring gamers to pay extra for the two platforms on modern handheld computers. People have been upset about having to pay publishers for PS5 upgrades for certain PS4 games.
related: The best handheld game console
Sony has a tortuous history of allowing cross-play with other platforms, but its notorious stubbornness has eased in recent years. It must allow its portable players to be mixed with PC, Xbox and Switch players.
An unlikely but exciting feature is to synchronize game states. PS5 can retain the state of its last active game in rest mode-imagine being able to transfer this data to a handheld device and resume where it was last interrupted. It requires some operating system to work, but it has obvious advantages over mobile games.
Will we see a new PlayStation portable game console?
Oliver Cragg / Android Authority
At this stage in Sony’s history, a new PlayStation portable game console looks unlikely. There is no doubt that the company envied the success of the Switch, but due to the multiple failures recorded, it needed to find a completely different way to justify trying again (perhaps a PlayStation phone?). This may require many of the ideas mentioned here, but it may not. Iteration is not always the best answer-for example, if Nintendo were only iterating on the Wii U, we would not have the Switch.
Sony is likely to be satisfied with the status quo. PS5 has been setting sales records, if you don’t pay the scalpers, it is still difficult to snap up. Returning to handheld devices may mean hurting profits, not only to challenge Nintendo and Valve, but also to challenge games on mobile phones and tablets.
Do you want to see another PlayStation portable computer? Tell us in the polls and comments above.