Since mainstream support for the PS Vita ended, those still actively using the console have continued to find ways to keep the console alive. We all know about the apparent disregard that Sony Interactive Entertainment had for the platform. Bar for a few key staff at the company including Gio Corsi – who was a very vocal supporter of the system – the Vita was buried at every opportunity. With limited first party support, lacklustre or non-existent marketing and countless other issues, there were few things left to make the console appealing. But one feature still kept the Vita central to many gamers… Remote Play.
Remote Play – The Early Days
Once the feature was announced alongside the unveiling of the PlayStation 4, it became a major aspect of the PlayStation Vita. For many, it’s become the sole reason people still use the console. Vita owners have left their native games collections behind in droves, gathering digital dust. While only using the handheld to access their PS4 collections when the family televisions are in use by others. For others, Remote Play was the only selling point for the much-maligned PlayStation TV. Certainly that was how Sony marketed the mini console.
As the sales of the PS Vita and it’s presence in the marketplace declined further, Sony’s focus with the PlayStation 4 only grew stronger, as did the promotion of Remote Play. No longer was the Vita intended to be the sole device of choice for gamers wanting to experience everything the PS4 had to offer. So in light of this Sony rolled out Remote Play functionality to both the PC and Android devices expanding the reach of the PS4 further, negating the need for the Vita altogether. PC gamers already had access to an incredibly diverse catalogue on a par with, if not greater than the PS4 along with varied online play including outlets to get free spins for Age of Gods. In contrast, mobile users usually had to settle for a casual games catalogue or watered-down versions of well-known games.
The Vita’s Distance Love Affair
Despite having just one pair of shoulder buttons, Vita owners weren’t put off from using Remote Play. In fact, it was the complete opposite. Users were often found showcasing their use of the system on social media when discussing their use of the console. Some took the use of the feature further. Taking advantage of the capability to use it away from home, gamers pushed this to the absolute limit. With a strong home internet connection, and using wi-fi on the move, innovative Vita owners pushed the boundaries of what Remote Play was designed to do. Forget playing PS4 games in other rooms in the home. Here were Vita owners playing games THOUSANDS of miles away from home.
Remote Play proved itself to be the unsung hero of the PS Vita. Where AAA games faded from the console, indie developers thrived and a healthy library of games took their place. The Vita had a new lease of life as a PS4 companion device just as much as a console in its own right. Today, it’s safe to say that the Vita is being used just as much for Remote Play and emulation thanks to the system hacks available as it is as a regular console.
Enter The PS5
But now with the impending release of the PlayStation 5 at the end of this year, it will also mark a shift for PlayStation gamers as a whole. Those currently using the PS4 will slowly migrate to the PS5 and will no longer need – or be able to stream gameplay to the PS Vita. Why? We project that – going by past experience – that Sony will disable Remote Play on the Vita through a system patch to encourage people to upgrade away from the PS4. While Remote Play will still be a part of Sony’s long term plans, the Vita isn’t and its clear that we won’t see a version of the app to allow PS5 functionality. Remote Play for Vita owners will end with the current console generation.
The question for existing PS Vita owners is how relevant their consoles will be once this happens? Rumours are circulating that Sony are considering extending Remote Play functionality to the Nintendo Switch. Could this be the deciding factor that will relegating the Vita to the storage cupboard once and for all? With the PS5 promising backwards compatability with the PS4, if this rumour is true then a PS5/Switch combination could offer gamers the best of both worlds. Portable gaming, Nintendo’s classic gameplay AND everything that the PS4 and PS5 will have to offer, both on the main family television and in the palm of your hand. Sadly, the Vita won’t stand a chance…