It was rumored recently that Sony may be considering releasing another mobile device. Depending on who you hear it from, this may be another portable device to compete with the Nintendo Switch in conjunction with the PlayStation 5, or it may be the PS 5 itself. The point is, with the way that Sony abandoned the Vita leaving fans hanging, should they dip back into the portable gaming well a third time?
If so, there are a few things I would like to see. To be honest, I did like the Vita but there were so many things that went wrong that otherwise could have worked well if Sony kept supporting it.
If Sony decides that their next portable will be independent of a full blown console, developers should find a way for the device to be more integrated with a console. One of the things the Nintendo Switch has always done well, is not being dependent on another box like the Wii U was. For some reason however, I don’t quite see Sony fully committing to their next console to being as mobile as the Switch is. With that being the case, any remote play that Sony’s next mobile console has must work a lot better than the Vita’s botched pairing with the PS4 did. It has to be simple and very compatible with the controls. A lot of games didn’t work well with the Vita’s remote play feature, simply because the control layout was such a mess to deal with. So basically, any portable system should be in line with the console itself on all aspects. Considering the fact that one of the biggest strengths of the Vita was supposed to have been remote play to allow gamers more freedom from consoles, it was also its biggest weakness as it did not work as advertised.
A more powerful system
If Sony opts for a system that in any way competes with the Switch, one would have to not only wonder if Sony would be looking to ditch physical gaming mediums, but what kind of power would be running under the hood to convince consumers that this would be the way to go for portable gaming. As much as fans love the Switch, one of its main weakness is that it doesn’t run in 4K on or off the dock. Certainly, the current most popular games have done well without having the need to run in a 4K environment. After the PS4, however, Sony would be hard pressed to make a portable system that would run with sub-par 4K requirements. Also, if this is to be their new main console, Sony would have to make a system that game developers would want to get (and stay) behind. If anything, any new handheld console from Sony would have to be a graphical powerhouse near the level of iPads and newer Microsoft Surface devices, while also having a battery life that surpasses the Nintendo Switch. In terms of power, I could see Sony creating a console that could keep up or maybe even surpass the Switch, as the Vita was a good example of what a handheld could do if given even some of the power of a stationary console.
This brings me to my last point. If handled properly& given the proper support, the Vita could have been a great handheld. For instance, Uncharted: Golden Abyss game was a great game at launch. However, Sony failed to follow up on it and really failed to keep developers on board. Subsequently, Killzone Mercenary was probably the only other noteworthy game produced. Madden 13 and FIFA 13 was a half-hearted attempt by EA to give sports fans a reason to play their favorite sports franchises on the go. Both were just bare-bones ports of their console counterparts. We won’t even get into the mess of a game that somehow got a Call of Duty name slapped upon it. The bottom line is that the bread and butter of any console are the games. Regardless of how under-powered a system may be, if there are games there, people will play. Sony’s biggest failure with the Vita was that they let it die. They didn’t push hard enough to get developers behind it and make it a success. So, within its first year, it was a dud. The Vita became a dumping ground for indie games, and most people wouldn’t (and didn’t) shell out $300 bucks for a glorified indie unit — especially since some of those same games were on other mobile devices. If Sony wants to make a new portable, whatever it is, they HAVE to have solid developers behind it. The system needs committed teams to ensure that the next handheld unit not only surpasses their previous efforts, but can go toe to toe with whatever Nintendo puts out. Again, Nintendo may not have all of the bells and whistles of the larger home consoles, but it has the right ideas of how to do a console hybrid properly, and it has heart and conviction. If Sony could find that same heart and conviction, then their next handheld could be a huge success.
While this is all still conjecture and rumor right now, there is a lot of upside to Sony taking another crack at a handheld console. If done properly, it could be a global hit as the Switch has all but cornered the mobile handheld market. However, Sony needs to make sure, no matter how powerful their next system is, that they have a plan for getting good titles into gamers’ hands and not just ports of other titles. The Vita did so much, yet none of its potential was fully realized. I have a feeling that Sony can do better, but the question is whether or not they will really commit to doing so.