When we talk about the portable video game consolesAlmost automatically, Nintendo’s proposals come to mind, which at least in recent decades have dominated this market with overwhelming dominance. Gone are now those days when play stationwith the PSP Yes Playstation Vita, attempted to gain a foothold in players’ pockets. In the case of the first hardware, it could be said to have been a success based on Sony’s aspirations; this is not the case with the second.
The failure of the PS Vita, without a doubt, conditioned the future of the company in the wearable sector. Sony never set foot in that market again, and frankly, the success of PlayStation home consoles continues to bolster its decision. However, the PS Vita continues to have the affection of its owners because, despite its scarce library of titles – mainly in the West – no one can deny that technically it is an excellent console. Maybe even ahead of its time.
Now, the brutal pace of sales that the Nintendo Switch has had since its launch, along with the excellent reception of Valve’s Steam Deck, has us wondering if there’s any possibility of seeing PlayStation return to the world. portable. If Sony was waiting for the perfect moment to try again with a hypothetical second generation of the PSP or PS Vita, it’s probably this. Because? I dive into it below.
The Steam Deck holds the key
In the realm of laptops, Nintendo has almost always walked alone. Even when an interesting contender has entered the picture, the Kyotons have no trouble holding the top by a wide margin. This is due, above all, to the fact that they know their consumers very well and that their market is very well defined. The company headed by Shuntaro Furukawa is betting on conquering the casual gamers and is generally victorious in its aim.
Nintendo’s superiority is such that Valve, when it announced the Steam Deck, quickly has distanced itself from the Switch to make it clear that they were looking for a completely different market. One which, curiously, is not a priority for Nintendo: that of the players hardcore. To this day, some people mistakenly insist that the two handheld consoles compete with each other, but the reality is that they are very different.
Gabe Newell himself, head of Valve, explained it to IGN. “I think Nintendo does a great job of reaching out to the audience that they have with the content that they have. When you take that [la Steam Deck], it seems much more ergonomic for someone who is used to playing with an expensive controller. It’s bigger and bulkier than a Switch. And if we’re right, that’s the right compromise for the audience we’re looking for.”
Maybe at this point you’re starting to wonder: what does the Steam Deck have to do with a possible PlayStation return to handhelds? A lot, in fact.
Valve is attacking, with great conviction, a market that PlayStation abandoned years ago. After the failure of the PS Vita, and not to mention that proposals such as Nvidia Shield Portable and Onexplayer went unnoticed, we believed that the portable console market for hardcore gamer had almost completely disappeared. But we were wrong. It has not disappeared, it was just waiting for the combination of attractive hardware, a large catalog of games and the support of a giant to resurface.
The Steam Deck was sold out in all regions where the pre-order was active. To date, Valve has been unable to meet demand and they don’t expect to be able to do so throughout this year. These data show that there are still a large number of consumers hardcore who are ready to open their wallets for a portable console which, even if it is not perfect, meets a good part of their desires and needs.
What does PlayStation need to launch a new portable console?
Good, PlayStation didn’t have to risk to test the current state of the market because Valve has done that job before, but that doesn’t mean it’s a guaranteed hit if it decides to come back. Even with the full weight of the mark as support, it wouldn’t be easy.
First, PlayStation should apply the lessons learned from its two previous experiments in the portable sector. Today, it is essential offer an extensive library of games from the start. Moreover, it must be constantly updated throughout its life cycle. In this sense, the Sony platform can stand out. How?
If the company will develop hardware that has specifications similar to the PlayStation 4, they could use the whole library of the aforementioned console, which is huge and growing. On the other hand, it seems that the development tools of Sony’s internal studios, despite the switch to the PS5, have no problem adapting to the previous generation. The proof is Forbidden Horizon West, Grand Touring 7 etc God of War Ragnarok.
technically speaking, it’s not impossible to create a handheld console with similar capabilities to the PS4. The Steam Deck, in fact, works close to Sony’s desktop hardware. So just as Valve took advantage of Steam games, PlayStation could do the same with PS4 titles.
Also, we cannot forget the playstation plus renewal, which will be available from June. The service will now have different plans to offer access to over 700 games – both exclusive and third-party – including some classics from PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS Vita. It’s another addition that the much-desired PSP 2 can build on.
Creating a portable console whose catalog starts from scratch would be shooting yourself in the foot. The PS Vita, precisely, failed because it lacked the support of major publishers, which resulted in a scarce library. Sony should do everything not to repeat the same mistakes. Will they take the step that so many players have been waiting for? It sounds complicated, but we can’t rule anything out in an industry that changes so quickly.