Sony’s Project Q is baffling: who on Earth is this for?

At the recent PlayStation Showcase 2023 event, Sony announced a device that no-one asked for: Project Q. According to the initial announcement, it’s essentially a DualSense controller with an 8-inch screen, designed seemingly exclusively for streaming your PS5 games over Wi-Fi to… somewhere else in your house, presumably.

Details are, for now, thin on the ground beyond those basics. We don’t know pricing, we don’t know the final name — presumably “Project Q” isn’t it — and we don’t know if Sony has any plans beyond the extremely basic-sounding capabilities that have so far been suggested to us.

Still, even with these limited details, it feels a bit like a kick in the teeth to the dedicated Vita community, who supported Sony’s wonderful little handheld long after Sony themselves pretty much washed their hands of it. It feels like the company is saying “we knew you wanted a new handheld, so here, here’s something that looks a bit like a new handheld” — and then, under their breath, “but with completely crippled functionality and no independent use case whatsoever”.

Probably the biggest question from the Project Q announcement is a very simple one: who is this for? Sony’s Remote Play facility on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 already works on a variety of devices, including a number of which that support DualSense-inspired controllers and controller grips. These days, you can remote play to a PC, your phone, your tablet — even existing handhelds like the Steam Deck and its imitators. So what, exactly, is the benefit of Project Q?

Sony will likely suggest that the unique selling point of Project Q is that the controller part of the device integrates all the same tech as the DualSense controller, which means the cool resistive triggers and the rather underwhelming “haptic feedback” — which, in practice, really doesn’t seem to have offered much beyond what previous generations of vibrating controller have done to date.

PlayStation 5 and Project Q

A big concern, then, given how much a new DualSense controller costs (RRP around the £60 at the time of writing) is that this tech will push the price of Project Q up beyond “affordable little gizmo that lets you play PS5 on the toilet” into “unnecessarily expensive and largely pointless luxury”. And, given how much the PS5 and PSVR2 cost, Sony’s certainly not averse to charging large amounts of money for things.

Something is definitely needed to sweeten the deal somewhat, because being reliant on the PS5 as a base station and being tied to Wi-Fi makes Project Q a restrictive prospect. If, perhaps, it were able to operate as a completely independent cloud streaming device — perhaps one that has access to all previous generations of PlayStation games — then there’s maybe a case for it. Whether or not that is part of the plan for Project Q remains to be seen at this time — and whether or not the gaming community really wants cloud streaming as much as the big tech companies seem to think we do is also still very much in doubt!

Project Q is a potentially interesting prospect, but right now it simply smacks of the arrogance Sony has been demonstrating over the latter half of the PS4 years and onwards into the PS5 era. This initial announcement feels very much like a case of them going “we know what you want better than you do”, and being wilfully blind to the things people have actually been saying they want — and the many criticisms that have been levelled at Sony’s PlayStation branch for the last few years.

Still, it’s early days as yet, and Project Q may well end up being the most essential electronic device that has ever been released. Somehow I doubt it — but stranger things have happened in this industry over the years, for sure.

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Pete Davison
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