Sony has made a lot of additions to its PlayStation line over the years, but the newest hardware for the family of consoles might be the most bewildering. Titled “Project Q,” the PlayStation 5 add-on isn’t quite what it appears to be, making many gamers scratch their heads in confusion. Perhaps the biggest reason for its less than stellar reception is how closely it resembles a notable Nintendo failure.
Project Q is definitely meant to emulate the success of the Nintendo Switch hybrid console and arguably even the Steam Deck. Unfortunately, it has more in common with the Nintendo Wii U, and may actually be even more unwieldy. Given that system’s failure and how much its successor has gone on to fix its issues, the Project Q could be doomed to failure by sticking so closely to it.
The Project Q Isn’t a Portable PlayStation – and That’s a Problem
Revealed at the 2023 PlayStation showcase, the Project Q essentially looks like a PlayStation 5 DualSense Controller with a screen in between it. This has the effect of making it seem like a new Sony handheld in the same vein as the Nintendo Switch. A more unflattering comparison would be a third-party or knockoff handheld device from a lesser company, which might automatically instill less confidence in the hardware. In reality, it’s not really a dedicated handheld comparable to the Switch or even the Sony PlayStation Portable or PlayStation Vita. Instead, it’s more of a convenient peripheral for those who have a PlayStaton 5, even if said convenience isn’t particularly strong.
Boasting an 8-inch screen and the aforementioned PlayStation 5 DualSense Controllers, the Project Q device uses remote play to stream games that have already been downloaded to a player’s PlayStation 5 console. It also requires Wi-Fi in order to work, meaning that it’s not quite as functional as it might immediately seem. This has caused many gamers to question and even scoff at the hardware, which is more of an add-on than anything. It simply doesn’t have the functionality needed to be a truly handheld or mobile system.
Given the failure of its actually relatively beloved predecessor the Vita, it might be on its way to an even bigger collapse in the market. The PlayStation Vita actually was a truly handheld system with a lot of potential, but its lack of support from game developers and Sony itself left many gamers cold. This not only recalls how the PlayStation Vita was received by consumers, but also the similar reception to a Nintendo video game system.
Sony’s Newest Hardware Is Too Much Like Nintendo’s Worst Console
As mentioned, the similarities between the Wii U and Sony’s Project Q are particularly damning given how things turned out for the former. The Nintendo Wii U was the follow-up console to the successful Wii, though it didn’t make nearly as much of a splash. The hardware was a home console with a screened controller, allowing gamers to cast gameplay footage either to the TV or on the screen itself. Thus, games could be played on the system’s screen while players watched TV at the same time.
Unfortunately, this functionality wasn’t exactly as useful as it might have seemed. The Wii U was still a home console, meaning that the GamePad had to be within some proximity of the system itself in order to broadcast games. It was a mere stepping stone to the truly portable Nintendo Switch, and was much less successful due to said growing pains. Outside of entries in stalwart Nintendo franchises such as The Legend of Zelda, it also lacked much in the way of good software. Project Q is much the same way, though with the added caveat of requiring Wi-Fi in order to function.
Sony’s Remote Play options are already available with compatible devices, the likes of which include ubiquitous smartphones and tablets. Given that those actually are truly mobile and can stream/cast PlayStation games with either Wi-Fi or a mobile data carrier, they’re a lot more functional than the half-baked Project Q. It’s no surprise that many gamers have been less than impressed with what’s been shown of the hardware thus far. If the price point isn’t competitive, it could instantly doom Sony’s “return” to the handheld market.