Sony is getting back to the handheld console space, but not in the way you think. The Japanese company on Thursday confirmed a new handheld gaming device, internally known as “Project Q.” The announcement was made during Sony’s PlayStation Showcase live stream.
Instead of a follow-up to 2011’s PlayStation Vita, the new device will be a cloud gaming system, similar to devices like the Logitech G Cloud and Razer Edge. That means the portable console isn’t designed to compete with Nintendo’s popular Switch console or Steam Deck. The device, which still doesn’t have an official name yet, is very much designed to be used for PS Remote Play over a wifi connection, requiring games to be installed on the PlayStation 5.
The company hasn’t revealed the handheld’s key capabilities, specs, and performance but Sony did confirm it will feature an eight-inch HD screen and “all the buttons and features” found on a DualSense controller. It’s still not clear what Project Q can do when not connected to Wi-Fi or streaming games from a PS5, which has puzzled many gamers. Sony hasn’t said how much the device would cost but promised it would share more information about Project Q “in the coming months.”
Sony’s return to portable gaming with a streaming handheld signal how the market for handheld consoles has changed. The Tokyo-based electronics major used to be a big player in the portable console space back in the day despite having a competitor like Nintendo. Sony’s last outing in the handheld gaming market was the PlayStation Vita in 2012. The device wasn’t a best-seller, and Sony decided to quit the market. In all those years, mobile gaming became huge with many brands abandoning the market for dedicated handheld consoles. But it was the Switch that renewed the handheld console market and since then the portable console market has only been up and up. In recent years, Valve, Asus, Logitech and Razer have all launched handheld gaming devices to compete with the Switch.
Sony’s idea of a new PlayStation handheld console is a lot different from Nintendo, for example. The Switch is a hybrid console and since Nintendo is a closed ecosystem, its strength lies in its first-party exclusives. Sony, on the other hand, markets its “Project Q” as an accessory for its PlayStation 5 console. After all, the device is focused on Remote Play, sending games directly from your PS5. It neither has the capability to stream games via the cloud like Logitech G Cloud nor does it will have a game lineup which you can play natively on a console like the Switch.
In fact, the PS5 has its own remote-play feature, allowing gamers to play their PS5 on their laptops, computers, or smartphone. Sony hasn’t gone into detail about how it wants to differentiate the “Project Q” from competitors but it appears that the new PlayStation handheld will likely offer more nuanced gameplay and optimised experience with the DualSense controllers.