PlayStation announcing the Project Q rekindled that one particular all-important question that's been loitering in the back of our brains for the best part of a decade: has the PlayStation Vita finally found a worthy successor to the throne of handheld gaming?
With hindsight, the sheer amount of opportunities Sony had to cash in on the world of portable gaming since the fall of the Vita is, in all honesty, beyond measure. That is, of course, until earlier this year, when the gaming giant took to the stage to announce the fish-out-of-water Project Q—a rather zazzy tablet that'll apparently bridge the gaps between gaming from the comfort of your own home, and on the move, thanks to its revitalized Remote Play accessibility.
Sure enough, Project Q looks a lot like a portable gaming console, and it most definitely has all the qualities to be something much greater than any bog-standard tablet on the current market. Question is, is it really the PlayStation Vita reborn, or is it merely a footnote on a much grander scale? Well, let's break it down, piece by piece, and see just exactly what it is that makes the Project Q the conversation starter that it claims to be.
What Is PlayStation Vita?
PlayStation Vita is the second generation of Sony's portable gaming career, and the successor to the beloved PlayStation Portable (PSP), which released back in 2005. Released back in 2011, the Vita went on to compete with the Nintendo 3DS, yet another handheld console that boasted a catalog of exclusive IPs and online features. Unlike the latter, however, the Vita's lifespan only lasted roughly eight years, with the rise of mobile gaming eventually paving over any future opportunities for the PlayStation device.
The PlayStation Vita, being a homegrown console at heart, released alongside a slew of exclusive games, which included Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Silent Hill: Book of Memories, and Killzone: Mercenary. As well as its exclusive properties, the device also featured a Remote Play function, which would allow users to access their PS3 libraries and play games while on the move. Add the fact that it also came with Trophy support, access to the PlayStation Network and PlayStation Store, and what you essentially had was a modernized PS3 and all its attachments squelched into a 5-inch LCD touchscreen console.
Granted, the PlayStation Vita didn't receive the support it so rightfully deserved, no thanks to Sony shifting the majority of its focus over to the launch of the PS4 in 2013. Nevertheless, interest in the device remained positively high, with countless handheld diehards praising it for its convenience and overall appeal.
What Is Project Q?
Project Q is Sony's latest handheld device, which is currently expected to release in the latter half of 2023. Its purpose, unlike the Vita, is to allow users to access a Remote Play function via their PS5 consoles, and essentially stream games already installed through a local Wi-Fi connection. With no gateways to the PlayStation Store and no physical media in tow, the device serves only as an 8-inch HD screen—one that comes attached to a rather sleek DualSense controller on either side of the display panel.
As it currently stands, there is no price tag to accompany the initial information dump that Sony has provided, though insiders seem to be leaning towards the ballpark figure of $250. Given the fact that this is, more or less, a beefier DualSense pad with a monitor wedged between the middle, though, such a price is bound to draw some negative feedback. However, until Sony sheds a little more light on the device's actual features outside of the bread and butter Remote Play function, it's hard to promote it to anyone other than a traveling businessperson, or to someone who favors the idea of gaming on a much smaller scale, preferably away from their usual spot at home or a place of work.
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
On paper, you'd have thought the Project Q was a solid substitute for any modern handheld gaming device. On the contrary, it's really just a glorified second screen, only with the functionalities and technical advancements of a DualSense controller and its next-gen touch. And given the fact that you can pretty much access the Remote Play feature on anything that ranges from a second-hand Android to a top-shelf tablet, we can't help but call the Project Q for what it is: a sleek but sadly redundant bit of kit that has no real attributes outside of its modern design and attachment to the DualSense.
It's a shame, really, as PlayStation had the opportunity to develop something spectacular—a modern gaming device that could withstand the technicalities of any big-budget game while on the move. On the contrary, it's really just an 8-inch screen that serves only as a portal to help stream games already installed on your home consoles. And given the fact that it's 2023, a year that has every right to take technology to a whole new level, that's a pretty low benchmark to set on Sony's part.
Needless to say that, if you're after a quality portable gaming device that not only has the ability to delve into Remote Play, but also boot up physical media and access a wide range of apps and features, then there's no doubt about it — the PlayStation Vita brings it home, every time. If you're interested in extending your collection and having all the latest gadgets and gizmos that yield under Sony's reign, then hey, the Project Q isn't the worst thing you could throw your money at, either.
So, what's your take? Will you be picking up one of Sony's Project Q devices when they drop later this year? Let us know your thoughts over on our socials here.