Will PC Remote Play Be the Death of PS Vita?

The front of a PS Vita handheld gaming machine, set to the home screen.

PS Vita | Source: Sony

Gamers have been sounding the death knell for PS Vita for years now, but a recent move on Sony’s part may really, truly, finally mark the end of this under-appreciated handheld gaming system. One of the primary reasons anyone still uses a PS Vita today is for the Remote Play feature on PlayStation 4. Remote Play lets you stream any PS4 game to your PS Vita, effectively turning it into a portable PS4. But now that Sony has launched Remote Play on PC and Mac, does the Vita have any life left in it?

Probably not, which is really sad. Sony gave up on the PlayStation Vita long ago, cutting short a life that almost certainly could have lasted longer with some attention in the form of games from Sony-owned studios. Why Sony dropped the Vita is undoubtedly due to money, with hardware sales falling far behind its competition.

To put it in context, the Vita’s chief competitor is the Nintendo 3DS. Across all versions, the 3DS has sold roughly 60 million units since its 2011 launch. That’s pretty good, particularly in the age of smartphones, which have made portable gaming hardware less appealing to many people. By contrast, Sony has sold about 11 million PS Vitas during the same time period. That’s a far cry from the 3DS’s 60 million units, which makes Sony’s decision to cut its losses seem reasonable.

The thing is, the Vita is a fantastic piece of hardware. It has a big, gorgeous screen and enough power to run a wide array of games, including full PlayStation 2 titles like Persona 4 and Final Fantasy X. It can also run most of the PlayStation One and indie games that are available on Sony’s digital store. Being able to bring that catalog of great games with you on the go is no small feat.

But now that Sony has shifted all of its gaming focus to the PS4, many people just use the Vita as a Remote Play device. While it works better for some games than others, it provides a handy way to play games like Destiny or The Witness away from your PS4 console.

Then along came Remote Play on PC and Mac, which offers an even better experience than on the PS Vita. For one thing, you can use an actual PS4 controller when you stream games to a computer. That’s a huge improvement over the Vita’s controls, since its analog sticks are uncomfortably tiny for many PS4 games, and its lack of L2 and R2 buttons causes a whole heap of problems. Lastly, since PS4 games were designed to be played on TV screens, it can be impossible to read onscreen text when it’s displayed on the Vita’s relatively small 5-inch screen. That issue is much less of a problem, even on the smallest laptop screen. Really, you’re better off playing Remote Play games on a laptop or desktop computer.

So while I’ll continue using the Vita to play classic PS One games on the go, I’ve retired it from its Remote Play responsibilities. I suspect many other gamers have too. It’s unfortunate, but it looks like the PS Vita is finally, really, truly dead. At least it leaves a beautiful corpse.

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