Sony has confirmed that the PlayStation Vita can indeed be used as a controller for the PlayStation 3. This had been rumored for a while but Sony has just responded with validation. The functionality drew immediate comparisons to Nintendo’s Wii U but it is currently unclear the extent of the functionality. What we know so far about the capability was explained by Sony Europe R&D manager Phil Rogers at the Develop Conference 2011.
“What could you do with all of this? Here’s a few boring technical ideas: you could drive a display from a PS3 game, for example.”
“PS3 can send data down to Vita and Vita can display it. You could use the unique features [of Vita] – gyroscope, touch front and back – as a control device for a PS3 game.”
“You can run software on both devices and use the network to sync the game states. And that’s pretty good, because you then have the processing power of PS3 doing that work, Vita [doing] fancy graphics – however you want to do it. You’re not sacrificing the PS3’s CPU to be able to have a rich experience on Vita.”
Rogers also encouraged developers to provide Sony with feedback on how they could further make this feature better. They also confirmed cross-platform between the PlayStation Vita and the PS3. They didn’t provide a lot of detail on this front but it will be interesting to see how this develops. The will also have Remote available at launch, Remote Play allows the Vita to receive encoded video output in real-time from PS3. As if that wasn’t cool enough he also talked about a very ambitious feature called Continuation Play. It is exactly what it sounds like, it allows a PS3 game to be played and then taken on the move on PS Vita. It uses a system called Title User Storage, which allows 1MB of data on their servers for games and that can be accessed on both platforms. So you can save your game on PS3, go over to Vita, pull that data back and swap it between them, so you can play a game at home and then get on the move and continue the game while you are away. The connection between PS Vita and PS3 will be handled via Wi-Fi and through the PlayStation Network.
Right now there is only one game called Ruin that uses this that they would mention, but this seems like a feature that will catch on. Further down the line, Rogers said developers will be able to retroactively patch-in support for Vita in existing PS3 games. He mentioned that they “did” support USB but then said Wi-Fi was good enough. I hope they just said that meaning that they assume most people will use a wireless connection but the USB option is still there. There are a lot of places in this country where connectivity is still suspect and while in my home it may work just fine if I go somewhere and take everything with it and the connection isn’t so great I might want to use the cable for quick transfer.
Skip to about 0:45 to see the game
In any case, Sony is doing and saying all the right things when it comes to Vita, we will see if they can deliver.