When I went to look at the luminous version of the recent Playstation Showcase, what caught my eye most was the Project Q — a handheld that, at first glance, looked like the obvious heir to Sony’s vastly underrated Vita and PSP consoles. It made perfect sense, given the successes Nintendo and even Valve have had in the portable console space, so imagine my disappointment when Project Q became just a peripheral for the PS5. This device will come with all the bells and whistles of a regular Dualsense controller along with an 8-inch screen, allowing you to stream games from your PS5 to your handheld device over your home Wi-Fi connection. Crucially, it won’t run any games locally.
Since this isn’t a new console and I don’t own a PS5, my interest in owning one of these devices instantly evaporated. While we’ll have to reserve judgment on when Project Q hits shelves, there are some signs that it might not be well suited for its intended purposes (like resting or using the PS5 while taking up the home screen).
Sony hasn’t come out with a portable console since the Vita fiasco in 2011. However, Nintendo’s gamble to make the Switch its flagship console for the eighth generation has completely changed the game for mobile devices — a graphics trade-off for maximum convenience worked out. The PSP showed how such a concept could be hugely successful for Sony, while devices like the Switch and Steam Deck have opened up the market even further in recent years. With Sony’s strong first-party lineup, launching a handheld console with new games and backwards compatibility is likely to lead to teamwork.
Project Q also loses out on the key portable advantage of portability. The handheld console allows the user to take their device outside – while dull idle on the morning commute or when they’re stuck indoors on vacation. Since you’ll be streaming from your PS5 to this doohickey, you probably won’t make it that far. We don’t know how good the range is, but even if you can somehow play Project Q on the street from your PS5, it will never equal a decent portable device. Moreover, if it comes to streaming games, offline play is already out of the question. Having games on a portable system that can be played regardless of connectivity is tough, but for Project Q it’s just another missed opportunity to add to the heap.
Even if we treat this tool on its own terms, the information we have now points to some issues. A recent internal report claims that Project Q will have 3-4 hours of battery life. I want to stress that this is a rumor, but if it’s true, it’ll be lower than the Switch or Steam Deck, which is worth emphasizing In fact they run their own games. If that wasn’t enough to show a failure in its aims, the fact that you can actually stream PS5 games to a phone and play with a controller puts the nail in the coffin. You’re paying what I’d bet a penny on (current estimates range between $200 and $300) for a glorious Wii U gamepad – at a cost that might be a bit worse and a gimmick already available on the market.
Remote Play has its fans (hell, I’m one of them), but that’s nothing new, while full portability will allow Sony to release great spin-offs for first-party games as it once did. With the Vita and PSP (seriously, the PSP had some cool classics). Of course, it will require more investment, but I simply cannot see the conversion units of this device with its limited capabilities.
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