Sony's New Patent Proves That A 'Sony Switch' May Be Inevitable
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And it just so happens that Sony loves to flatter Nintendo.
With the Nintendo Switch appearing to be a runaway success, one has to wonder whether or not Sony will take another deep dive into the portable space.
Personally, the idea is outlandish to me. The Playstation 4 is currently the king of the console generation. Copying Nintendo seems below them. Although, it wouldn't shock me. Sony has been known to "borrow" before.
(To clear the air, I own a PS4. It's a fantastic system. It just so happens that Sony has been known to "borrow" ideas from time to time/all the time.)
Introducing yet another piece of hardware on to shelves sends mixed messages in my opinion. Sony has the Playstation 4, Playstation 4 Slim, Playstation 4 Pro, and for the moment, Playstation VR. Sony has a console that could be on pace to reach Playstation 2 numbers. Why would they take such an unnecessary gamble now?
And despite everything I've just said, it's rumored that Sony might be working on a new handheld that people are referring to as the PSP3. Sony owns a patent for device that looks an awful lot like the Nintendo Switch. Maybe it reveals their true intentions or maybe they are future-proofing themselves in case hybrids become a new standard.
After the Playstation Vita, it is hard to fathom that Sony would re-enter the competitive handheld market which Nintendo has dominated for decades. Sony dropped the Vita at the first sign of trouble and burned many consumers in the process. It might be difficult to re-earn their trust.
But on the other hand, the Switch might be a transformative force in console gaming. It's still early to say, but it has been nearly a Wii level phenomenon, breaking all kinds of sales records. It's completely plausible that the idea of gamers being tethered to their TVs becomes a relic of the past. And in that regard, it would behoove Sony to jump on the portable bandwagon early.
They certainly have the funds and library of games to make it happen. The idea of being able to take games like Uncharted 4, Horizon: Zero Dawn, or Persona 5 on-the-go is an incredibly enticing offer.
But I have to wonder if the PS4 is too powerful for it's own good? When it comes to portables there is a holy trinity of affordability, power and battery life. You can only have two out of three.
The Playstation Fusion, or whatever they're going to call it faces a lot of questions. Sony has the luxury of being able to sell their consoles at a loss which would keep the price down. But for it to possess comparable power to PS4 would require a massive unit with a limited battery life which would defeat the purpose of portability.
Not to mention, juggling their home console business with their portable business could prove difficult. Modern game development is too costly and time-consuming to maintain support for two devices. This caused Sony to drop the Vita and forced Nintendo to merge their divisions. Unless Sony can manage something similar to Remote Play between PSP3 and PS4 I find it a dubious proposition at best.
Nintendo's one-generation-behind graphical capability coupled with their proclivity to lean into cartoonish art style made the Switch a natural fit. Nintendo surveyed the landscape and saw a shift away from their home console business and decided to go all-in on the portable market. It was a massive risk, but one they desperately needed to take.
Sony however is in no such position. They can rest on their laurels with the best selling console of the generation until they are ready to announce the Playstation 5. But with E3 less than a month away, we shall see.