At the risk of making it seem like I'm a bit fed up with the PS Vita, I have another gripe to share with the world. I understand that after last week's moan about the DRM it's going to look like I've done a complete 180 on the system since first playing it at PS Vita Rooms a couple of months back. Therefore, before I unload on Sony over something else, let me first just say that as a gaming machine the PS Vita is excellent, and I'll say as much when I do a full run down of it in the future. But for now, here's another example of a thus far missed opportunity that I hope Sony will improve on as the platform develops.
The feature in question is Remote Play, something that was originally brought to the PSP to bridge the gap between it and the Playstation 3 by having the two share functionality that lead to a more cohesive Playstation experience. Due to the PSP's modest hardware capabilities in comparison to it's larger brother, the functionality was pretty limited, but the potential in hooking up your portable gaming experience with your home console one was there for all to see.
When Sony demonstrated Killzone 3 being played on a PS Vita via a Playstation 3 at the Tokyo Game Show last year it appeared the gap had finally been closed. Wowing people with technological capability is something Sony prides itself on, and demonstrating a full Playstation 3 game running on a PS Vita, even if only streaming via a local network, made for a powerful statement. I should point out at this juncture that I share the TV in my living room with my wife in the evening and my daughter in the daytime, so the opportunity to fire up a console isn't always available. The idea of being able to happily surrender the television, knowing I can move my travails in Skyrim on to my PS Vita with a minimum of fuss is greatly appealing, and I thought when I watched that video from TGS that we were truly witnessing the future. Add to that the fact that the bond between the PS Vita and the PS3 would actually rival the biggest USP of the newly announced Wii U almost as an after thought, and it felt like this was a shining example of Sony at it's best.
I'm sad to say that the reality of Remote Play between the PS Vita and Playstation 3 is much more confining than many of us hoped. The games that can utilise the feature make for a weak showing, and remarkably, even Killzone 3 can't use it at the time of writing. The fact that most of the games that can use it are PSN titles or Sony exclusives suggests that it's the usual legal nonsense that's getting in the way again, but one does wonder why more effort wasn't put into growing the software list prior to launch if Sony are indeed serious about it (please dear God be serious about it). I can't see why major publishers would get in the way when they can have more time spent with their games, at zero cost to them, while they wouldn't even be charging people for new copies anyway. From a hardware perspective, hackers have already proved that it can run on a lot more games via using custom firmware on the PS3 (those pesky vagabonds), so there are no excuses that I'm prepared to accept.
Sony have a proud tradition of pushing the envelope with their hardware, and the PS Vita is a wonderful example of that. I just hope so badly that they establish the 'play' in the name Remote Play, in a true sense, sooner rather than later. The market the PS Vita is now competing in is as tougher than ever, and if Sony want people to put down thier iPhones and iPads and invest in a PS Vita then they need to demonstrate things it can do that others can't. Full quality Playstation 3 experiences in the sunshine of your garden is a showstopping example of that, so fingers crossed this is nothing but the typical teething problems of a new console launch.