Sony has finally revealed more details about its upcoming handheld, now called the PlayStation Portal, but this announcement has soured my opinion of the device rather than excited me. I enjoy cloud gaming and have used various services like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna, and Xbox Cloud Gaming – on my phone and even dedicated devices like the Logitech G Cloud Gaming Handheld. Therefore, I’m very excited to see what PlayStation can do when it enters the space. Unfortunately, some specific exclusions from the PlayStation Portal’s functionality that make it more of a remote play device than a cloud gaming handheld device show that Sony has a fundamental misunderstanding of what people want from a PlayStation game streaming handheld device.
Namely, the positioning of the device as a “remote gaming only device” and the exclusion of PlayStation Plus Premium cloud gaming compatibility drastically reduces the number of reasons people should use the device. Cloud gaming and the devices built into it have been around long enough to show that an inclusive approach to the number of services, games, and types of game streaming available is critical to success, and for a $200 handheld, the PlayStation Portal doesn’t seem like it would include too many.
Narrowing its appeal
Remote gaming differs from what is commonly referred to as cloud gaming in that players run games on their own consoles, rather than on third-party consoles or servers. However, this is a form of streaming games over a Wi-Fi connection, usually via an app on a phone or device like the Logitech G Cloud Gaming Handheld. That means you have to stay in your own home to use the PlayStation Portal, and its game library is limited to whatever the user owns on the console. That’s limiting (as Steam Deck only runs Steam Link) but has some use cases. However, this doesn’t necessarily require a dedicated $200 phone and a fancy mobile controller like the Razer Kishi V2 or Backbone One – PlayStation Edition; haptic feedback and adaptive triggers only go so far.