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Talking Point: Could PS4 Streaming Impact Native Vita Development?

Posted by Sammy Barker

Devil in disguise

Aside from games that make heavy use of the PlayStation Eye camera, you’ll be able to play your entire PlayStation 4 library on the PlayStation Vita. The promising Wii U-esque ‘Off-TV’ functionality is something that Sony envisioned with its previous generation consoles, touting the benefits of Remote Play as early as 2006. However, while the feature never quite lived up to its potential on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable, the organisation’s hoping that the enhanced capabilities of its latest set of hardware will make the ambitious technology a much bigger success. But could that come at a cost, and hinder development for the Japanese giant’s struggling pocketable platform even further?

It’s worth stressing that at this early stage we still don’t really know how well the feature will work. Remote Play on the PS3 and PSP was ruined by lag and poor image quality. Sony’s said that the experience will be superior on its next generation formats due to the inclusion of an additional chip inside the PS4 that will support the streaming functionality. Aside from a short demonstration anchored by system architect Mark Cerny during February’s widely publicised PlayStation Meeting, though, we’re still yet to actually see the technology in action. Assuming that it works as promised, however, it could have negative repercussions for the Vita.

Last week, French publisher Ubisoft revealed that its Sofia development unit has been recruited to assist production on Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. The studio – previously responsible for Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation – is working on a specific section of the gigantic open world game. This means that there’s no handheld instalment in production, despite the aforementioned release selling extremely well on the Vita’s slender install base. However, the company has been keen to point out that the console sequel – like all other PS4 releases – will support Remote Play. “All we have to do is make sure that the controls are good on the Vita because it's missing a few buttons,” associate producer Sylvain Trottier told Eurogamer.net.

With Sony already struggling to incentivise Vita development, it may find its position further weakened when the PS4 deploys

While it’s reassuring that supporting Remote Play is a relatively straightforward task for developers, there’s a very real concern that submitting tweaked control schemes may represent the sum of some publishers’ efforts moving forwards. For companies like 2K Games and Bethesda, that may actually be an improvement, but for other firms like Namco Bandai and Warner Bros – who have been supporting the Vita with a mixture of original titles and ports since its release in 2012 – it could very well result in a step backwards. And the last thing that the system needs right now is less games.

The problem is that many companies are already starting to shy away from Vita development. Poor sales of the hardware have resulted in some less than stellar software numbers, prompting publishers to pull production until the system’s situation improves. With the platform holder already struggling to encourage development, it may find its position further weakened when the PS4 deploys. Firms working on games for the next generation console could cite Remote Play as a sign of support, lessening the incentive for spin-offs or exclusive entries in big franchises. Where’s the motivation to develop a watered-down version of Assassin’s Creed IV when the main game will already work on the handheld?

And that question not only applies to the publishers, but to the consumers, too. Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation was a decent game, but it offered a shallow experience compared to its primary console counterpart. Why would anyone spend a significant amount of cash on a spin-off, when the "full" experience could be enjoyed via Remote Play? Granted, you’ll need an Internet connection to get the functionality up and running, but how many of you are playing your Vita out of the house anyway? And if you are using your system on the subway or train, we suspect that your commute is not particularly well tailored to the narrative driven experiences that you’re likely to enjoy on the PS4.

Of course, this creates a problem. A lack of must-own software has already prevented the Vita from garnering the sort of install base that it arguably deserves, and that's despite the system playing host to a wealth of stellar smaller releases. Games like Hotline Miami, Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark, and Velocity Ultra all offer exceptional experiences, but are not system sellers. With Remote Play potentially lessening the incentive for publishers to produce blockbuster content for the handheld, though, could the feature actually become a dagger in the platform’s prospects?


Are you worried that Remote Play may further deteriorate the Vita’s software situation, or do you think that the appeal of the feature may ultimately improve the system’s outlook? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Do you think that PS4 streaming will impact Vita development? (45 votes)

Yes, I can’t imagine many publishers will support the system now

20%

It all depends on how well Remote Play works

44%

No, I think that it may improve the console’s prospects over time

36%

Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (41)

ShogunRokAdmin

#1

ShogunRok said:

This is something that's crossed my mind for a while now, and it's a fascinating talking point because it allows for several different arguments.

However, in the end, it all comes down to how well remote play works and how far Sony is prepared to push it. If it really is as good as they say, then they need to promote it - it would help Vita's hardware sales, surely.

KALofKRYPTON

#3

KALofKRYPTON said:

It could go either way. But with the likes of Killzone Mercenary being absolutely fantastic and a possible price drop, we can always hope that sales are bolstered.

FullbringIchigo

#4

FullbringIchigo said:

it's possible if the remote play functions like it says because after all why would you buy the vita version of a game if you can stream the PS4 version to your vita (and if you have the 3G version you can do it from anywhere)

daveyboy90

#5

daveyboy90 said:

I hope Sony can find a way to internally keep releasing big titles for the Vita. Even without the PS4 streaming it is an awesome handheld, and I hope that with a couple of big titles and remote play it can gain some legs and give developers a reason to make exclusive game for it.

BornOfEvil

#7

BornOfEvil said:

I've said it before and I'll say it again; if people start buying Vitas in order to utilize remote play, then it will increase the number of Vitas that are floating around out there, which will cause 3rd party devs to start backing it.

I'm thinking - more like hoping - that you'll be able to use Gaikai to stream your digital PS4 games to your Vita no matter where you are, which would really increase Vita sales. I'm still hoping for a Crysis, Bioshock, Siren or inFAMOUS Vita port.

ferrers405

#8

ferrers405 said:

Yes, Third parthy will stay more away from Vita as is now with major releases in double like Rayman Legends, but I think a spin-off like Batman Blackgate will be continued to be released and hope that Sony come up with more games like Infamous, GT e GOW.

get2sammybAdmin

#9

get2sammyb said:

@Lelouch See, I agree, but there's a counter-point to that. It may improve sales of the hardware, but will it help or hinder the software situation? For the hardware sales to improve, the functionality needs to work really well. But the better it works, the less need there is for games like Assassin's Creed III: Liberation and Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified. Why would I ever buy those, if I could be playing the "real" games instead? Same goes for games like Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, etc.

It's a fascinating gamble.

vazurahan

#10

vazurahan said:

No it won't. The inherent latency of the Internet and availability will just make Remote Play be used mostly at home. Once a person goes out, they will mostly likely just play more Vita native games.

This will just increase the Vita's install base.

In the end, it's exclusive games that will sell a console.

Hypothetically, let's say the Nintendo's 3DS can be used to stream Wii U games just like Remote Play (and Wii U sold a lot). It doesn't mean that Nintendo would stop producing games for the 3DS.

Nintendo will just grab the opportunity of the larger install base of both consoles and make exclusive games for both to maximize profit.

I bet Sony would do the same if the Vita sells a lot because of Remote Play.

Just like what Nintendo does with Mario. Sony will have an excuse to make more games from the same franchise because of one game being exclusive to a portable and another exclusive to home console.

Same as having a Mario on home console and another Mario on portable console.

Make a slight change on one version like multiplayer and poof you get to sell both.

Itachi

#11

Itachi said:

After being on the market for over 2 years now and having only sold 2.5 million units it's safe to say that it's already failed to meet expectations. Like the Wii U, the Vita has sort of missed it's opportuntity to catch on with consumers. Sony is counting on remote play with PS4 to be their trump card in a last ditch effort to make the Vita appealing and bring some new life to the device.

They have a uphill battle ahead being so far behind in the race, you could even say the Vita is in last place depending on how you view it. What I think would help drive sales of the Vita is a obvious price drop as well as a possible bundle with PS4. Just my opinion but I think Sony has done a poor job marketing the Vita and besides the lack of games I think marketing is the biggest issue.

-CraZed-

#12

-CraZed- said:

While I agree that many publishers might pass up development of unique or separate versions for titles on the PS4 I don't think that is necessarily a problem at least in the long term. There will be plenty of indie titles on the platform AND just being able to play the console version of games on your Vita is worth $199, which is where I think the price will be very soon. And if the rumors of a $500 PS4/Vita bundle are true the Vita will skyrocket.

This is good for the ecosystem Sony is trying to create. Once there are more Vitas are in players' hands developers will HAVE to make original titles for it especially with the crazy good attach rates of the Vita. Games will sell for it.

For the record....There is NO lack of games for the Vita. It has a library of over 200 games already and the remote play function will only serve to make the Vita even better. In the long run.

BarrettJChris

#15

BarrettJChris said:

@get2sammyb Wow I feel like a jerk, sorry my wife just pissed me off. A little on edge. Its ok but I will tell you one thing. Your profile picture creeps me out. I used to watch that movie alot and those aliens are creepy and ugly

Visiblemode

#16

Visiblemode said:

@KALofKRYPTON agree. They need a $199 Killzone Mercenary bundle.

The root of this though, is will the growth in adoption expected due to PS4 result in higher Vita game sales? If not the machine will become more of a peripheral unfortunately.

get2sammybAdmin

#17

get2sammyb said:

@BarrettJChris Don't feel like a jerk - I was joking. Sadly for you I will never, ever change the Mars Attacks picture! ;)

@Visiblemode Yep, I think that's very much the crux. It's going to be an interesting couple of years for sure! :D

BornOfEvil

#18

BornOfEvil said:

@get2sammyb Yes, but couldn't you use that same logic for Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta, which sold extremely well despite the "real" games being available on PS2?

get2sammybAdmin

#19

get2sammyb said:

@Lelouch You could, but the difference is you couldn't play God of War III on the PSP. Theoretically, you'll be able to play God of War IV on Vita.

BornOfEvil

#20

BornOfEvil said:

@get2sammyb Yeah, but I think the Vita has enough original titles to keep it from becoming a companion device rather than a seperate gaming device.

Jaz007

#21

Jaz007 said:

I think the only it games it could stop from coming are cross play games. I don't think games like Liberation and declassifies are meant to like remote play. I don't see why people would stop buying Vita games because the can stream PS4 games on the Vita, I mean, people could already be playing the real thing on PS4 anyway.
I think remote play will sell Vitas and that will bring more games.

BornOfEvil

#23

BornOfEvil said:

@-CraZed- Yes it can, but most people will start to see it as a companion device and cease buying Vita exclusive games. Personally, I'll be using it as both, especially if Project Diva F gets ported over to the Vita.

Ginkgo

#24

Ginkgo said:

Nothing is more important at this point, than getting more consoles in peoples hands, particularly in the US. When enough people own the console, the developers will come because the economics of making a game make sense. Anything that sells consoles will help more than it hinders. I know it is a chicken/egg question, because games sell consoles as well. Just saying that anything that sell one helps.

-CraZed-

#26

-CraZed- said:

@Lelouch Well let's hope that doesn't happen. But even if some people do see it that way as long as it increases sales for the device there will be room for both camps. I just don't see it becoming shoehorned given its capability to play full fledged portable titles.

Slapshot

#27

Slapshot said:

Vita needs exclusive software to get it selling like it should. If Sony is banking on Remote Play to save this console, I think it has another rude awakening moment coming in the very near future.

It's a dang shame that Sony has left this incredible piece of hardware to sit and collect dust like it currently is. Killzone will be great, but the exclusive line-up of games for the console is far too small.

Gamer83

#28

Gamer83 said:

Like I posted last night in the Assassin's Creed topic, this is the end for Vita as a dedicated handheld gaming device. It will be an expensive PS4 app starting whenever Sony launches that console. I won't lie, remote play is actually a feature I'm really looking forward to, but it's not something that would make me go and buy a Vita if I didn't already own one.

JaxonH

#29

JaxonH said:

On the one hand, PS4/Vita remote play (particularly a hardware bundle) would get more Vitas into the hands of consumers, which is a good thing. We need as many consumers with a Vita as possible if new games are to be developed for the handheld.

On the other hand, reducing the Vita's selling point to nothing more than remote play from a PS4 over an internet connection could prove fatal to the handheld. Off screen play is nice, IF it's quick and easy and IF a consumer has all the hardware to do so. But people aren't going to go out of their way to start up their Vita, connect to the PS4, and start streaming the signal just to go downstairs for a little bit, or to use the restroom. The only time people will use the function is if they can't use the tv for extended periods of time, whether at home or at a friend's house who has enough bandwidth to carry the signal. That's not a convincing sell to me. I already own a Vita, but certainly wouldn't consider buying one just for that feature. And like the author said, this would only serve as the perfect excuse for developers to not bring exclusive titles to the system, and possibly not even bring multiplats anymore either, seeing as "you'll be able to stream it". This could be bad, really really bad.

JaxonH

#30

JaxonH said:

@Gamer83
Well said. I already own a Vita, and since I'm buying a PS4, sure I'll take the off-tv play. But that's NOT a selling-point to me. I can attest as a Wii U owner that as nice as off-tv play is, I seldom use it. The Wii U's gamepad works because it does a lot more than off-screen play- it works in tandem with the game in real time, offering dual-screen mechanics similar to the 3DS. The off-tv play is just a nifty by-product feature, and while it does prove useful at times, it mostly goes unused. If Vita could somehow allow developers to integrate their games into both PS4 and Vita, and allow full dual-screen mechanics, then it would be a defining selling point. But even if that is possible, it won't happen. Because like the PS4 Eye, if the hardware isn't mandatory, the developers won't use it in their games.

I still hold out hope for the Vita though- sometimes all it takes is a couple must-have exclusives to turn the tide.

Gamer83

#31

Gamer83 said:

@JaxonH

What's funny to me is a lot of people complain about cross-platform releases like Sonic and All-Stars Racing, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Dead or Alive 5, Dragon's Crown, Sly Cooper, etc. but I think remote play is potentially more damaging. Sure more people may have bought Sly on PS3 but at least the option was there to buy a Vita version, if you wanted to, and if you happen to be an owner of both PS3 and Vita you could go the cross-buy route and get a copy for each system for just $40. Remote play limits you to your house and the game isn't actually designed for the Vita. And the truth is, I can't see myself wanting to play Killzone: Shadow Fall on Vita, as nice as the screen is, over playing it on my awesome HD TV.

JaxonH

#32

JaxonH said:

@Gamer83
Right. At least now there ARE cross-platform releases. Remote-play could quickly put an end to that, and in all honesty, it probably will. I mean, why go through the trouble developing a Vita version to coincide with the PS4, when the consumer can just stream it? Obviously remote-play is not the preferred option, but that's what the publishers are going to tell us. They're going to tell us we CAN play it on Vita, all we have to do is stream it. Which again, as nice as that sounds, isn't as practical. You must have internet connection (and the proper bandwidth), and that right there is a HUGE problem. Because handhelds are meant for play on the go, and when you're on the go there IS NO INTERNET CONNECTION. Plus, as you said, the games won't be optimized for Vita, and as nice as the Vita is, my HDTV is much nicer for playing games. This was not a good strategy for Sony to take. Exclusive must-have games sell systems. And not just one. For a system to sell it needs a compelling library that you simply can't find anywhere else. Remote play doesn't even begin to solve that.

Sony needs to double down, and they need to do it right now. They need some must-have exclusives on the Vita before the launch window of the PS4 comes to an end. If they can turn the Vita around with an onslaught of great exclusives, the remote play would be a great ADDITION to an already must-own handheld. But without it's own compelling library, I'm not sure how many people are going to spend a couple hundred dollars on a Vita just to get off-tv play on an internet connection. Idk, time will tell I suppose...

Gamer83

#33

Gamer83 said:

@ObviouslyAdachi

The PS4 is long overdue, we should've had that, the Xbox One and Wii U by 2011 at the latest. The problem isn't the PS4, it's Sony not really knowing the handheld market.

DirectAim

#34

DirectAim said:

If remote play works as well as they suggest I think the Vita will almost become a requirement for anyone with a PS4. Me and a couple of my friends are holding off purchasing a Vita now due to rumors of a bundle being available on PS4 release!

Superfrog HD is also a big reason why I want a Vita :-)

JMC

#35

JMC said:

@JaxonH
Completely agree with you. The Vita needs quality EXCLUSIVE games. Remote play can be nice, but it is NOT a seelling point. If there aren't great games, people won't feel the need to buy one.
I only got my Vita because I couldn't play Gravity Rush anywhere else. Other games helped my purchase, specially Persona 4 Golden, which I also couldn't get on the PS3. If there weren't any good exclusives, I wouldn't own a Vita even though I tend to play more on the go.

charlesnarles

#37

charlesnarles said:

I voted for it improving the situation. Once people start using it, everybody will be so blown away including devs who will want to implement it, or be inspired to make a native vita game that meshes perfectly with a remote-playable PS4 title. I can't see them doing all this work making the games work scaled down without wanting to use it for another game. It'd be staring them in the face, wouldn't it? Keeping all the devs awake at night wondering why there's an entire console title functioning on Vita with no new story/game to employ it... Too easy to pass up, right?

Squiggle55

#38

Squiggle55 said:

I'm interested to see what happens. From a personal perspective, if the PS4/vita remote play works absolutely seamlessly, I couldn't care less if zero more vita exclusive games are developed. Why would I care? I can pay one price and play the game on my TV or anywhere in the world.

If I only owned a Vita, then obviously I would worry and want more games to be made for it. But I think this has to be a very small population. And honestly at the very least I don't see the situation getting worse. I expect to see the same steady flow of indie games and the occasional quality retail game.

But let's say remote play only works well through a direct connection in the home. Then you'd still need to buy games specifically for your Vita if you want to play with your portable system on the go. So it very much depends on the quality of remote play.

The only other talking point I can think of is that remote play games wouldn't have touch screen gimmicks and camera features and tilt mechanics. Of course I don't care a lick about that.

If remote play is totally seamless, then I honestly don't care what happens with Vita development. And honestly I'd probably be disappointed if a game was ever released just on the Vita shop, instead of on the ps4 shop where I could pay once and play it both ways.

NAZA1999

#39

NAZA1999 said:

**** everybody here with crossplay **** can happen the vita doesnt have enough buttons impossible what sony can do now is invent a clip on onto vita itself with L2 R2 on it an leave space for TP an watch how sales grow an if they do invent it i want my share in it cause it was my idea

Cloud7794

#41

Cloud7794 said:

This is a take I haven't seen before, but I don't see it as too much of a problem. The thing is, if more people get a Vita, even just to complement the PS4, that's more vita's out in the market. Now, companies like money, and if they see the Vita selling well enough, I can't imagine them thinking "Yes! Now more people will buy the PS4 game and play on Vita!" I see more like people may be able to play the PS4 version on Vita, but they don't make any more money off that. They may make the Vita games as well and, at the very least, get some double sales from it (like what is happening with Rayman Legends). You have good points nonetheless and I would hate for the Vita to fall to an even lower point than it already is.

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