May 29, 2013 at 4:07 PM ET
Continuing its valiant effort to convince PlayStation fans and mobile gamers to actually get around to buying its PlayStation Vita mobile gaming console, Sony said Wednesday that it is requiring almost all next-generation PlayStation 4 games to be compatible with its mobile counterpart via the company's "Remote Play" feature.
In other words, Sony is mandating that pretty much every PlayStation 4 game can also be played on the PlayStation Vita when the mobile console is in streaming distance of its living room counterpart.
While Sony's mandate to developers was first reported by the gaming site Eurogamer, Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida confirmed the news on Twitter shortly afterwards.
Yoshida said that all PlayStation 4 games will be able to run on the PS Vita "unless the game requires specific hardware like the camera," referring to the new PlayStation Eye motion-controlled hardware.
"It will be great to play PS4 games on PS Vita," Yoshida added.
Much like Nintendo's Wii U console, the promise of Sony's "Remote Play" feature is that it will allow console owners to access their games without being tethered to one specific screen. If a friend or family member is insisting that you let them complete their binge of the new season of "Arrested Development," say, you can take the Wii U GamePad and continue playing a console game on the smaller screen.
Thing is, the "remote" part of "Remote Play" only goes so far. Again like the Wii U GamePad, Sony has said that the Vita will only be able to run PS4 games when it's within striking distance of the console on the same Wi-Fi network. It's not the same thing as "Cross Play," which right allows Vita and PS3 owners to swap between playing the same game on both of the consoles. But while there have been a handful of excellent indie games such as the recent platformer "Guacamelee!" that transport all gaming content seamlessly between the two, both of Sony's features have remained more attractive in theory than in practice.
The timing of the PlayStation Vita's release may be promising in this regard, however. The mobile gaming device was first released in December 2011 — well into the PlayStation 3's life-cycle, but also at a point when Sony was already hard at work developing the PlayStation 4. Even Sony's acquisition of cloud computing company Gaikai in July 2012 seemed to be done with these kind of remote gameplay features in mind — though Gaikai's technology will support more than just the PS4's Vita-compatible features. And last March, many gaming sites such as IGN reported that the Vita's sales skyrocketed in Japan once the company dropped its price by roughly $50.
Could the company be waiting until the PlayStation 4 launch window to make a similar price cut for gamers in the U.S. and Europe? Gamers may not be able to stop playing "Call of Duty: Ghosts" on their TV and pick up the game moments later on their Vita during a morning commute, but giving Vita owners access to the PS4's entire library could finally compel more PlayStation fans to pick up the underperforming device.