A decade after the PlayStation Vita’s early demise, handheld gaming is more alive than ever, leading many to wonder if Sony will one day attempt to re-enter the portable gaming market. Based on a new report from Insider Gaming, the answer is both yes and no. Sony appears to be working on a new handheld device, but it may only be for remote gaming with the PS5. It certainly doesn’t sound like the Vita 2 that some fans have been dreaming of.
Thank you PS Plus for making my backlog even bigger
Insider Gaming’s Tom Henderson reports that this new device is codenamed Q Lite and doesn’t work offline or like a traditional cloud gaming handheld. Instead, it appears to work exclusively with your existing PS5 to remotely stream games at up to 1080p resolution and 60fps. “Early prototypes indicate that the console will look very much like a PlayStation 5 controller, but with a huge 8-inch LCD touchscreen in the middle,” he writes. “The device features adaptive triggers for haptic feedback and includes what you would expect from a handheld – volume buttons, speakers, an audio-in jack, etc.”
Kotaku can’t confirm Henderson’s account, but GiantBomb’s Jeff Grubb recently wrote that he’s also heard of plans for a possible “cloud streaming handheld.” Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
If true, it’s an extremely odd choice that’s sure to disappoint 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 standalone devices, both expanding the PlayStation gaming ecosystem in novel and useful ways.
Read more: Everyone is making a new PlayStation Vita except Sony
We could spend all day arguing again why the Vita ultimately failed, both in terms of revenue and its games library, but it’s clear today that it wasn’t even a decade ago that mobile gaming shattered the portable gaming market High-end devices did not destroy. The Switch is arguably the best console of this hardware cycle, and the Steam Deck has now shown that with the right technology, you can enjoy the latest blockbusters from God of War to Elden Ring on a device that fits between your hands.
So it’s disappointing, if not surprising, that Sony might be trying to thread the needle by offering the worst of both worlds: a potentially expensive accessory that can’t play games natively. That’s basically what the $350 Logitech G is for Xbox, although even that device benefits from Game Pass cloud streaming support. According to Henderson’s report, Q Lite can’t even stream PlayStation Plus games if you don’t already own a PS5. The Razer Edge is another gaming handheld whose limited features make it hard to justify the $400 (or $600 for the 5G version) price tag. 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 that currently supports PS5 Remote Play. Add in the PlayStation Backbone controllers released last year and you have a full-fledged remote gaming handheld, although I’ll admit I don’t use it much because the overall streaming experience still isn’t great, especially with so many better options. Perhaps Sony’s next gaming handheld will justify itself by the time it actually ships, if it ever does. Henderson reports it could arrive before the end of 2024.