I had a conversation with one of my co-workers the other day about the difference between consoles and handhelds. He argued that they should both be called consoles, and he seemed perturbed that people felt the need to call them something different when they do the same things, one just does it in a portable fashion. It’s all arguing semantics at the end of the day, but what I took away from that conversation was a realization that consoles and handhelds, while made by the same manufacturers as their console counterparts, never, or rarely interact with one another.
Think about it, Nintendo has the GameBoy, the DS, and now the 3Ds, and not once did they interact on a meaningful level with the Nintendo 64, Gamecube, and Wii. (Save for the GameBoy player on the GameCube, but I don’t count that one.) Even the Wii U felt the need to include a tablet controller that almost exactly resembles a giant DS sans one of the screens. Seriously, it’s like consoles and handhelds are complete strangers living in the same house, but they never speak to each other. Was there some kind of falling out that we have never heard about? If so, why has Sony also been affected until recently by this same need to differentiate the two systems?
The greatest sin of all though my friends, is the dreaded port. Often times handhelds have been stuck with hand-me-down versions of major console releases. Certain franchises like God of War and Uncharted have created separate, meaningful experiences for the handheld, but I can count these types of games on one hand. So what is it that this black swan of the industry is searching for? Nintendo just throws Pokemon games at theirs, but I’m talking about meaningful integration of the console and the handheld. Put aside old difference and seal up old wounds.
Introducing Remote Play!
Please, please, keep the applause to a minimum. Yes, I know, you don’t even know what it is and you love it. Yes, I love it too. Okay, okay, stop clapping! Thank you. With the PSP, there was this feature, buried under mountains of other features, called Remote Play. The concept was simple, stream PS3 games to your PSP and allow you to play them through a streaming connection on any Wi-Fi network you were connected to. You could even remotely turn on your PS3 from anywhere that’s online and get started.
Like so many things in this world, it looked great on paper, but in practice it wasn’t as good. Not many games actually supported the feature, and the ones that did were choppy at best. And so, it was buried in the past, but when the Vita came out, there was hope. A much more powerful handheld system that could support this wonderful feature. But alas, the feature was again sparse. I know it sounds like I’m not going anywhere with this, but wait, there’s more!
Remote Play on the PS4!
Seriously? No clapping this time? Okay, fine, I’ll get straight to the point then. Sony has expressed that the Vita will be the ultimate companion device for the PS4. This means features like remote play, and integration between the two systems. All that counseling finally paid off, the two are speaking again! Guy Longworth, a Sony executive for the PlayStation brand marketing had this to say about the compatibility between the two devices.
“With Vita, we’re only 15 months in to launch and now we think that with PlayStation 4 the opportunity for Vita is to be the absolutely perfect companion to the PS4.”
So far, we know that Killzone: Shadow Fall, and Knack will both be compatible with remote play. This means you can stream the games straight to your vita, with little to no lag. There are some caveats, and at first it is recommended that the feature be used at home, on the same network. Again, these things take time. Here is an excerpt from the recently released FAQ that Sony put out on the PS4.
"We strongly recommend that Remote Play be used within the same WiFi network where PS4 is connected," Sony explained, while confirming that Remote Play wouldn't be available via 3G. "We also recommend that PS4 be connected to the local area network via an Ethernet cable, that a router suitable for gaming be used, and that the PS Vita system be within close proximity of the WiFi access point so that the connection is free of interference."
I think the feature will be rocky at launch, but as things stabilize, it will improve over different networks. This connectivity though allows for more than just game streaming. You can chat with friends between the Vita and PS4. All purchases on either reflect on both, and developers will be able to add in Vita specific features, turning it into a secondary controller. The possibilities are truly endless, but ultimately it is up to the developers how they harness this new technology. One thing is for certain, it’s going to pay off this generation, more than ever, to own both a Vita and a PS4.
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert Date: 11/04/2013