Skip to main content

The Steam Deck is a true successor to PlayStation Vita

It’s hard to imagine that Sony was a major player in the handheld console race less than 10 years ago. The console giant found success with the PSP in the 2000s and looked to push its advantage in 2012 with the PlayStation Vita. That didn’t quite go as planned.

The PlayStation Vita was a commercial failure for Sony, with the company pulling first-party support relatively early during its lifespan in 2014. The handheld had a dedicated fanbase and some great exclusive titles worth owning, but it was clear that Sony had lost faith in it.

Related Videos

As a result, Sony may never create another dedicated handheld gaming device ever again. However, it doesn’t need to: Valve’s handheld machine, the Steam Deck, acts like the successor to the Vita. This is all thanks to Sony’s newfound support for the PC platform. With past select PlayStation 4 and upcoming PlayStation 5 titles coming to PC, Steam Deck truly promises console-quality gaming on the go, fully realizing the goal Sony tried to achieve with the Vita.

Past ghosts

The Vita was home to a few blockbuster exclusives, especially Uncharted Golden Abyss and Killzone Mercenary. Uncharted was one of PlayStation’s premiere franchises at the time, so being able to play an Uncharted game on the go with stunning graphics was a major selling point for the handheld. Killzone Mercenary was an incredible first-person shooter experience that utilized a mission-based story structure to complement the system’s pick-up-and-go nature.

Sony stopped creating handheld experiences like that when it ended support for the Vita. Since then, it’s been solely focused on its console games, but PlayStation’s venture into the PC space has inadvertently brought the Vita’s handheld vision back to life.

The gorgeous graphics of Uncharted Golden Abyss

So far, PlayStation Studios has released three games onto Steam: God of War (2018), Days Gone, and Horizon Zero Dawn. Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered and Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection are slated to launch this year on Steam as well. Other non-first-party PlayStation console exclusive games, such as Death Stranding and Detroit: Become Human are on Steam too. And all of those games are now accidental portable experiences thanks to the Steam Deck.

With the Steam Deck, Sony now doesn’t need to provide its own proprietary technology to enable high-end console gaming on the go. Valve is taking care of that. While not every game works perfectly with Steam Deck yet, that number is increasing every day. PlayStation will also continue to add more games to PC too, as Returnal’s PC listing had previously leaked.

Cloud Save is the new cross-save

The PlayStation Vita supported cross-save between many of its games with PlayStation 3 and 4 versions. That means you could play the game on your home console, and then play them on your Vita when you’re on the go. Your save data would copy to the cloud, and then your Vita would pull from it.

However, not all games supported cross-save, including notable titles like Rogue Legacy and Hotline Miami. The process wasn’t frictionless either. Some cross-save supported games could sync automatically to the cloud, but others required you to manually sync them every time. All those issues left the Vita’s cross-play promise underutilized — but Valve has fully realized that idea with the Steam Deck.

As long as you have an internet connection, Steam automatically updates your cloud saves when you close out of a game, so transitioning from your PC to your Steam Deck is practically effortless. Additionally, almost all games on Steam support cloud saves. While not every single game on Steam has cloud save functionality, it completely snuffs out the Vita’s selection of cross-save compatible titles.

The digital era that we’ve become so accustomed to was still developing and so cross-save wasn’t the most seamless function out there. But it was a valiant effort to make the system stand out amongst its competitors, namely the Nintendo 3DS. Cross-saving was once a defining feature of the Vita, but Steam’s approach to cloud saving handles the concept much better and feels like a natural step forward.

The Japanese game machine

When Sony dropped first-party support for the Vita, it was up to Japanese developers to keep the system alive. The handheld had some cool Japanese exclusive games, like Freedom Wars, Tales of Hearts R, and Soul Sacrifice: Delta. Surprisingly, they haven’t been ported to any other system and remain exclusive to the system to this day, despite their online servers having been shut down late last year.

The critically acclaimed Persona 4 Golden was a Vita exclusive for eight years until it was ported to Steam in 2020. There are some other Japanese franchises that were released on Vita and PC, such as Hatsune Miku, which received a whopping three separate entries on Vita.

Persona 4 Golden was previously a Vita exclusive

Japanese publishers started embracing the PC platform more in the mid-2010s when the Vita was still receiving support. The latter half of the Vita’s life cycle was defined by Japanese developers still putting out games for the system, including XSeed with the Legend of Heroes franchise, and Square Enix with the Final Fantasy X and X-2 remaster. The handheld was known for its bevy of visual novel games by publishers like Aksys Games.

While these games were released on Vita, they were also released on PC. As such, almost every Japanese game nowadays sees a PC release, which means that they are also playable on Steam Deck. With big companies like Capcom and Bandai Namco now supporting PC games, the Steam Deck feels like it’s picking up where the Vita left off as a dream machine for Japanese games.

Streaming seals the deal

One of the cool abilities that the Vita had was that you could stream PS4 and PS3 games to the handheld via Remote Play while you were away from your consoles. I remember playing Persona 5 on my Vita at my parent’s house, hundreds of miles away from my apartment where my PS4 was. Sony has continued to iterate on this idea by adding iOS and Android devices as compatible platforms.

Due to the flexible nature of Steam Deck, you can easily replicate that Vita function with virtually any PlayStation game. PlayStation recently streamlined its PS Now and PS Plus services into one, called New PlayStation Plus, where players can stream a catalog of games to their PS4 and PS5 consoles, as well as their PCs. Steam Deck users have found ways to stream the service to the device, turning it into a true PlayStation handheld.

Sony’s entire available catalog of games on the streaming service can be played on the Steam Deck, even ones that don’t have native PC releases yet. This includes first-party games like inFamous, Ghost of Tsushima, and Gravity Rush, as well as PS5 exclusives like Demon’s Souls and Returnal.

With the Steam Deck, there are no walled gardens. Along with being able to run new PlayStation Plus games, the handheld can also install Xbox Game Pass, as well as play games from the Epic Game Store launcher, its direct competitor.

New PlayStation Plus lineup includes AAA games

The technology, with its cloud saves, provides a much smoother experience than the Vita’s cross-save function. Even the most graphically intensive and huge AAA games like Elden Ring and Halo Infinite can be played on Steam Deck.

Theoretically, almost every game you could ever want to play can be on Steam Deck, considering the universal support for PC gaming. Valve has leveraged this aspect in a way that Sony never could fully realize with the Vita, which relied mainly on PlayStation’s own support.

Sony never needed to follow up on the PlayStation Vita. It just needed a company like Valve to finish what it started.

Editors' Recommendations

PlayStation Plus just set a new first-party precedent with Horizon Forbidden West
Horizon: Forbidden West

Sony revealed the games coming to PlayStation Plus Premium and PlayStation Plus Extra this month on February 21, and it's the best month that the service has had since it launched in the summer of 2022. Not only are some great PS1 classics like The Legend of Dragoon and Wild Arms 2 coming to the service, but Horizon Forbbiden West is getting added as well.
Horizon Forbidden West coming to the service one year after launch is a big deal because Sony has been resistant to putting recent first-party PS5 games on its subscription service. While it's still not adding first-party titles on day one like Xbox Game Pass does, this is possibly our first indication of how Sony will handle adding its own games to the subscription. It's not the only PS4 and PS5 title coming to the service this month either, as the following strong lineup of games was also confirmed to be coming on February 21.

The Quarry (PS4, PS5)
Resident Evil VII Biohazard (PS4)
Outriders (PS4, PS5)
Scarlet Nexus (PS4, PS5)
Borderlands 3 (PS4, PS5) 
Tekken 7 (PS4, PS5)
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown (PS4)
Earth Defense Force 5 (PS4)
Oninaki (PS4)
Lost Sphear (PS4)
I Am Setsuna (PS4) 
The Forgotten City (PS4, PS5) 
Destroy All Humans! (PS4)

Read more
Over 100 PlayStation VR2 games are in development, Sony says
Playstation VR2 headset on a PlayStation-themed wallpaper.

Sony has released a massive FAQ about the PlayStation VR2 on the PlayStation Blog ahead of the headset's February 22 launch. It reveals some key new details about games for the platform, namely that over 100 PS VR2 titles are in development, and that Sony doesn't plan on giving its games physical releases for now. 
For the most part, the FAQ is full of basic information about the PlayStation VR2's specs, how to set it up, and what's required to use it. But the Games section of this FAQ reveals quite a few illuminating details about the future of the system. It reiterates that there will be around 30 launch titles for the system, but also reveals just how much is in the works for the headset. In response to the question, "How many games are in development for PS VR 2?" Sony writes, "There are currently more than 100 titles in development for PS VR2."

That's a good sign, as a new, expensive VR headset like this lives or dies on its game lineup. PSVR2's early days might be a bit odd as Horizon Call of the Mountain is one of its only true exclusives -- and it's not backward compatible with PlayStation VR titles (something this FAQ reiterates. However, those picking one up can still know that lots of games are in the works for it.
Another FAQ question asks, "Will PS VR2 games be digital only or will there be physical disc releases?" -- which is sensible to clarify as this headset's predecessor had physical games. "Initially at launch, PS VR2 games will be digital," Sony says. "Physical disc releases for select titles may be available at a future date." So don't hold on to the idea of picking up a physical copy of Horizon Call of the Mountain; you'll be getting PS VR2 games through the PlayStation Store for the time being.
Check out the full FAQ if you have any technical questions about PS VR2's setup and which games it supports. PlayStation VR will be released on February 22. 

Read more
PlayStation VR2’s launch lineup features more than just Horizon Call of the Mountain
Horizon Call of the Mountain key art.

At CES 2023, Sony confirmed that there would be over 30 launch titles for PlayStation VR2. Today, we learned specifics on what exactly 37 of those PlayStation VR2 launch window games are on PlayStation Blog.
This announcement also contains 13 new titles that we didn't know were coming to PlayStation VR before. Particular new highlights include Before Your Eyes, an emotionally moving game where blinking is the main form of interaction, Tetris Effect: Connected, a multiplayer-enhanced version of one the original PlayStation VR's best games, and What the Bat?, a comedy game where the player's arms are bats. Of course, the crown jewel of PlayStation VR2's launch is still Horizon Call of the Mountain, a VR spin-off of one of PlayStation's most successful recent franchises.

Check out the full list of confirmed launch titles: 

Read more