The internet has been buzzing since Insider Gaming dropped some rumors on a third portable PlayStation called "Q-Lite" that is currently in development.
PlayStation has always followed trends set by competitors, like Nintendo and Sega, while also innovating in some ways. The origins of Sony selling portable gaming devices stemmed from the Japanese and European-exclusive Tomgatch-like memory card that had a built-in monochrome LCD display and a miniature controller. If you thought such a handheld device sounds more like the Dreamcast VMU, you'd be correct. The PocketStation debuted a few months after the Japanese release of the Dreamcast. After its debut, Japanese releases of various games like Crash Bandicoot: Warped, Spyro the Dragon, Street Fighter Zero 3, Ape Escape, and Metal Gear Solid: Integral had small games that could be played on the tiny portable. However, the PocketStation stayed away from North America.
This eventually led to Sony's first foray into portable gaming with the December 2004 Japanese release of the Sony PlayStation Portable, or "PSP" for short. Sony went all out to try to deliver a handheld that could outperform the PS1 but fell short of being a full-on portable PS2– not that there wasn't a significant effort to bring PS2 games to the PSP. But games weren't the only focus that Sony was looking to bring to PSP.
Sony wanted to make the PSP a portable media center. The PSP was the next evolution in many ways to Sony's Walkman by being a portable MP3 player– a market that had just recently been starting to garner mainstream attention thanks to Apple's iPod. In addition, the small discs used to hold games could also hold movies as well. Generally, the picture quality was less ideal than a DVD due to the PSP's 480x270 pixel screen, but these features let the PSP be many more things than your average portable game device, especially before the days of the iPhone and smartphones.
By 2011 though, the PSP was old news. It had a long run, but the PS3 had already been out for over five years on the market, and the PS4 would be two years away still. The PSP's lack of a second thumbstick and performance could at least match Nintendo's 3DS at the time, except in sales. PlayStation's answer to their again portable was to bring its handheld line new life with the PlayStation Vita. The Vita, like its predecessor, looked and performed better than a PS2 but was shy of a PS3 in terms of power. Some PS3 and even PS4 games attempted to launch on the Vita. The shift away from the proprietary UMD format and toward a proprietary traditional game card meant that the PS Vita was the first line of PlayStation devices to lack the ability to play any optical media. While Sony eventually launched the digital PlayStation Store on the PSP, the PS Vita was built with the intent to utilize the digital storefront from the very beginning. However, while the Vita was a significant improvement to the PSP in every way, portable gaming wasn't as financially viable for either Nintendo or Sony. Smartphones were on the rise. While Sony had a great launch window with major hits like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Gravity Rush, sales of the system weren't so great.
As years went by, Sony talked less and less about the Vita. Some attempts to push Vita's streaming capabilities to play PS4 games remotely were, unfortunately, becoming some of the last major pushes that Sony tried to bring in interest. Today, the PS Vita can still be used as a remote play device on the PS5, but the screen resolution of 960 x 544 isn't ideal these days.
This leads to the modern day– where remote streaming became available to more devices users already owned. Phones, tablets, and PC's can all stream PlayStation 4's and PlayStation 5's to various devices through the help of Sony's official methods, as well as some unofficial methods of playing PlayStation games on non-PlayStation devices. What's even better is Sony has been bringing their PS4 and PS5 titles to PC which allows games to not require a constant internet connection or proprietary hardware to be played. The results are typically great conversions to PC... generally. This combo of streaming and extra platforms means what you play your PlayStation 4 or 5 games on isn't restricted to just a PlayStation, and includes the question of where a PlayStation game can be played.
With the all-in-one device that is the Steam Deck, the possibilities of how PlayStation games can officially (and unofficially) can be played makes the Steam Deck and other handheld PCs better options than the older, restricted days. That however brings us to today's confusing announcement. Sony wants to bring a dedicated handheld for streaming your PlayStation 4 or 5. In a world where virtually everyone already has a device in their pocket that could stream a PlayStation, or pay $400 for a handheld PC that is fully capable of running God of War without relying on the internet, Sony is still trying to compete with the Switch.
At this point, Sony should be more focused on investing in PC software and making an official remote play app for Steam OS, rather than building a handheld that is already occupied by the Logitech G Cloud. The idea of a new handheld that is catered toward PlayStation users seems tone-deaf to the point where this rumor must be old news and must have been before the Steam Deck was announced. Yet here we are, about to see Sony's third handheld gaming device simply be built to stream the PlayStation 4 and 5. The PlayStation line of portables has gone from digital to discs, game cards, and now nothing but streaming just to keep the home console experience going where you are, with or without your PS5 nearby. Yet, almost everyone has the ability to do that presently with software Sony already has.
In addition to this new portable PlayStation "Q-Lite", Sony is also rumored to be making a revised PlayStation 5 that is digital only but can add the disc drive back through an external Blu-Ray player, sold separately. The PlayStation 5 Pro is also set to release after the rumored Q-Lite.
The likely scenario is Sony started development on this device years ago and has quietly been creating a handheld all while Valve announced their Steam Deck, and other manufacturers went towards Android and full-on handheld PCs. This seems to be a device that is too far along that will likely struggle to find an audience unless the price is right.
If you want to see how to stream your PlayStation through Chiaki to your Steam Deck today, check out our video.