A decade after the early demise of the PlayStation Vita, handheld gaming is more vibrant than ever, leading many people to wonder whether Sony will one day try to get back into the portable gaming market. Based on a new report by Insider Gaming, the answer is both yes and no. Sony is seemingly working on a new handheld device, but it will possibly only be for remote gaming with the PS5. It certainly doesn’t sound like the Vita 2 some fans have been dreaming about.
Insider Gaming’s Tom Henderson reports that this new device is codenamed the Q Lite and won’t work offline or like a traditional cloud gaming handheld. Instead, it will seemingly work exclusively with your existing PS5 to stream games remotely at up to 1080p resolution at 60 FPS. “Early prototypes show the console will look a lot like a PlayStation 5 controller, but with a massive 8-inch LCD touchscreen in the center,” he writes. “The device sports adaptive triggers for haptic feedback and will include what you would come to expect from a handheld – Volume buttons, speakers, an audio input jack, etc.”
Kotaku can’t corroborate Henderson’s report, but GiantBomb’s Jeff Grubb recently wrote that he has also heard about plans for a possible “cloud-streaming handheld.” Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
If accurate, it’s an extremely odd choice that will certainly be a letdown to longtime fans of Sony’s portable gaming devices. While never as successful as Nintendo’s Game Boy and DS handhelds, the PSP and Vita were slick devices in their own right that both expanded on the PlayStation gaming ecosystem in novel and useful ways.
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We could spend all day re-litigating why the Vita ultimately failed, both in terms of sales and its game library, but what’s clear today that wasn’t a decade ago is that mobile gaming did not destroy the market for high-end portables. The Switch is arguably the best console of this hardware cycle, and the Steam Deck has now shown that with the right tech you can totally enjoy the newest blockbusters from God of War to Elden Ring on a device that fits between your hands.
So it’s disappointing, if not entirely surprising, that Sony may be attempting to thread the needle by offering the worst of both worlds: a potentially pricey accessory that can’t play games natively. That’s basically what the Logitech G at $350 is for Xbox, though even that device benefits from Game Pass cloud streaming support. Based on Henderson’s report, Q Lite won’t even be able to stream PlayStation Plus games if you don’t already own a PS5. The Razer Edge is another gaming handheld whose limited features struggle to justify its $400 price tag (or $600 for the 5G version). In both cases the conclusion was clear: just buy a Steam Deck.
And in a way, Q Lite already exists. It’s called my smartphone which currently supports PS5 Remote Play. Add the PlayStation Backbone controllers released last year and you have a full-fledged remote gaming handheld, though one I admittedly don’t use a ton because the streaming experience still isn’t great overall, especially with so many better options around. Maybe by the time it actually ships, if it ever does, Sony’s next gaming handheld will be able to justify itself. Henderson reports it could arrive before the end of 2024.