Are Sony holding back Vita remote play streaming on purpose?

By Alan Ng - Jun 5, 2012

If you were specifically hoping to see some remote play action on the PS Vita at Sony’s E3 keynote speech, you are probably feeling a little disappointed. The company announced some new PS1 classics such as Final Fantasy 7, but we didn’t see any indication on when the company plans to have their promised PS3 remote play streaming feature working.

The good news is that the first batch of new PS1 classics will be available for purchase on the PS Vita sometime this month. Two games that have already confirmed to be coming are Final Fantasy 7 and Tomb Raider. At the moment though, there still appears to be a lot of question marks regarding PS1 classics for existing games that Vita owners have purchased and of course when the company will finally roll out their long awaited remote play feature.

At the moment though, Sony didn’t say whether PS1 games that have already been bought on the store will work with the Vita. After teasing Killzone 3 on remote play at the Tokyo Game Show last year, there is still no sign of these features either. It would have been nice to be able to pick up a brand new PS3 game and be able to play it on the Vita via streaming.

We would hate to think that Sony are holding this feature back, purely and simply because they feel that they’ll lose money on Vita software in the long run. For example, if Sony were to provide remote play Vita streaming for Assassin’s Creed 3 on PS3, then who would still be willing to pick up Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation that has just been announced? Although Vita owners expect to see this functionality in the future, perhaps Sony has had a major u-turn and decided that free PS3 streaming isn’t a good business move.

If they do feel this way, then perhaps they should make it a PlayStation Plus feature only, that way they would get more subscribers to balance out potential Vita software losses. Obviously Sony may not be thinking about this idea, but it is worth contemplating this as a reality if you are wondering why Sony didn’t show any notable remote play features at their E3 keynote.

Did they just throw Final Fantasy 7 and Tomb Raider out there to keep Vita users sweet? Everybody wants to know what the score is regarding their remote play features that everyone bought the system for – at the moment, Sony are keeping us waiting. Let us know your thoughts on this one.

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Also See: Final Fantasy 7 PS4 comes with amazing Aeris theme

  • Guest

    Aha, just in case anyone still believes the PS3 can do remote play by some voodoo magic without needing to consume extra CPU power, I’ve just found a leaked copy of Sony’s Remote Play dev document in the PS3 Dev Wiki.

    Basically, the game needs to run at 30fps for the capture to work properly without dropped frames, needs 14 spare processor threads for the conversion and 18MB spare memory. There is a diagram showing the Ps3 needs to perform normal graphics processing, then reprocesses the graphics / audio for remote play, which is why it needs the extra spare cpu / memory resources.

    Obviously any half-decent game developer is going to try and squeeze the best out of the hardware available, so these resources aren’t going to be free, unless the game is redeveloped for remote play. I can’t think of many developers who would be willing to recode their games to be not-quite-so-good to make remote play work properly, let alone do it for free…

    I wonder if it’d be possible to create cut-down PS3 firmware to free up enough resources to run remote play properly without needing to wait for the PS4, running ancient ps1 ports or waiting (probably in vain) for developers to hack about with their existing code…?

  • Nono

    Remote play was one of the deal makers for getting the vita. For that reason alone my wife gave me to ok to play. From day one I was upset about remote play not being there. I know the limitations of the systems, but in reality there is no need to “beef” up the ps3! The vita would act no different than a controller and tv screen. The same amount of imput and output are there. Do not get me wrong, I love my vita it is an excellent stand alone console. The current games and apps are amazing. The downside is that sony did indeed drop the ball on remote play. I have heard several people claim that sony never said this was available or that it was just to show what the system “could” do, but the fact is it was promised and advertised as a big selling point. I have downloaded all of the vita comercials and info from day one and kept them because of this. Now they have taken that feature off their ads and website. Why? Maybe they did change their mind, but I would be willing to pay for ps plus or a premium per game to have this feature. Even tho I like my ps vita I cant help but feel let down by sony. If I knew this was the case I would have waited to purchase it. Sony basicaly tricked thousands of people into buying thier new console.

    • Guest

      I wish it was true too – I was really lookng forward to using my Vita for remote play, especially as every other game I’ve tried on it (except for the excellent Uncharted) has been rather mediocre. But I’m sure Sony’s not doing it as some marketing ploy (unless they want to lose all their market share) – it simply doesn’t work that well.
      Judging from my findings (the ramblings below), if Sony made Remote Play available as-is, they would get universally slated by the media and customers, because modern games are so slow they’re almost unplayable though Remote Play. Just look at the panning the media gave The Orange Box on the PS3 for it’s slowdowns and freezing, even though it was still perfectly playable and very enjoyable. Imagine that 100x worse, and you get the idea of how bad Remote Play is, at least using custom firmware.
      I’ve now given it up as a bad idea, put Sony firmware back on my PS3, sold my Vita, and returned to using my lovely PSP. At least the Vita’s been good for one thing – it’s driven the cost of PSP stuff so low you can pick up half a dozen excellent games for the price of one mediocre Vita one 🙂

    • Guest

      Er, I hasten to add I only tried 3 games on the Vita – Uncharted, Ninja Gaiden and Resistance. The sports games didn’t really appeal and I played Wipeout to death on my N64 almost a decade ago so I didn’t fancy spending £35 on that either.
      Maybe you’ve found something excellent which I didn’t try, but I didn’t see anything which compared with the Metal Gear Solid / Final Fantasy / Monster Hunter series on the PSP in terms of playability, at least for the style of games I like.

  • Guest

    I hate to say it, but remote play is disabled because the PS3 isn’t up to the job of streaming the files. I went to all the bother of setting my PS3 up with 3.55 cfw and altering the games’ param.sfo to work, only to find most either creashed during cut scenes (e.g. the Uncharted series) or were so laggy they were completely unplayable (e.g. Red Dead Redemption).

    I thought maybe it was my wi-fi connection, so I set up a modified version of Vaio remote play on my high(ish)-end PC and direct connected to the PS3 via a gig ethernet connection. Result – very little difference. Red Dead redemption sound was better, but the lag was so bad the game was still virtually unplayable. I tried other games just in case there was a problem with RDR, but got the same results – I couldn’t get past the 1st level of Bioshock or Wolfenstein, and they’re the pathetically easy ‘learn your controls’ stages! Since my computer’s cpu usage was about 10% and network usage 2%, the bottleneck must be the ps3 itself.

    I started digging through various ps3 vs pc / xbox reviews, and realised quite a few games have to be graphically downgraded to work on the PS3 even without remote play enabled, so I guess it’s not surprising everything moves very slowly indeed when you add remote play to the equation…

    So basically, though it was a great acheivement getting remote play to work via cfw, it’s of little value unless you want to post ‘look at meeeee!’ videos about it on youtube. Sony are right unfortunately – remote play on the vita won’t be a reality (except with suitably low-tech ps1 games) until they release a beefed-up ps3 that’s capable of handling the extra processing load.

    • MartinB105

      You seem to have no understanding of how Remote Play works.

      Remote Play simply outputs video from the PS3 over a network connection instead of the TV.  It is not dependent upon the size, CPU and graphical intensity of the game, with perhaps the exception that certain sequences of images might compress better than others (i.e. a fast-paced action sequence might lag more).

      To put it shortly, if it can be done for one PS3 game (and it can), then it can be done for ALL PS3 games.

      • Guest

        Well, I’ve tried it every way I can, and since it’s not a problem with network bandwidth or client processing, it can only be a problem at the server end (i.e. the ps3).

         If you don’t believe me, try running 3.55 cfw on your PS3 and do the experiment for yourself. I tried using a Vita / 802.11n wireless, and then using Vaio remote play (modified) with a 1 gig wired connection and fixed IPs so no dhcp traffic interrupted data flow. Packet capture using Wireshark confirmed no lost packets, by the way.

        As far as I know remote play hasn’t been done for even one PS3 game (except for that infamous Sony demo, and who knows what sort of souped-up PS3 dev system they could have been using for that). From what I’ve seen Sony only supports Remote Play on PS1 re-releases which are bound to be much less cpu-intensive.

        Since the PS3 is acting as a streaming server as opposed to simply acting as a fileserver, it has to do normal processing of the game (which will include rendering the bitmaps, calculating the game background / lighting, anti-aliasing, etc) prior to compressing and streaming it, so there will be very little difference in CPU / GPU load between sending the output to the screen or streaming it.

        Imagine the PS3 is acting like a Windows Terminal server; the Windows TS has to do all the processing of the client’s apps prior as well as ‘streaming’ the video out and responding to keyboard / mouse inputs. If the windows TS is over-stressed, the clients have a very laggy connection, no matter how good their client PC / network connection is. That’s exactly the same as the PS3 has to do in remote play mode – it’s not simply streaming ‘dumb’ video content, it actually has to create the content prior to streaming, and also has to respond to / process incoming stimulus from the joystick or whatever. If it’s over-stressed, it will introduce unavoidable lag because it doesn’t have enough resources to respond to all interrupts whether external or internal in a timely fashion.

        I guess the one way to prove for sure what’s creating the bottleneck would be if someone released a cpu / memory / process load meter (something like Linux Top would be ideal) which could be left running in the background whilst a game was being streamed, but I do know there’s so much lag when there’s a lot going on in the background that it’s almost impossible to play even the “hacker’s flagship” Red Dead Redemption properly.

        I’d be intrigued to get my hands on the official Vita SDK for the PS3 to see if there are any special workarounds which the CFW route doesn’t use, but my guess is game developers have to remove some of the more complex graphics processing (which probably wouldn’t show up on the Vita’s tiny screen anyway) to free up enough resources to operate remote play properly.

  • Danfrw

    In regards to why we really want remote play – if for example you have a young child in the house and share your main tv with your partner and children, being able to switch from the big screen to the vita when the tv is being captured by your loved ones for a spot of dora the explorer or get me the hell out the jungle and the like, its a great prospect being able to swap over to the small screen of the vita to continue your gaming fun. Some of you may not have kids and have full uninterrupted access to a tv 24 hours a day but some of us only have a small window of time to get a blast of gaming pleasure. Which is why the vita remote play is such a great idea and as many of you have said it’s one of the main reasons why I purchased a unit……

    • MartinB105

      Personally, I’d just buy a second TV dedicated to the PS3 if an occupied family TV is the biggest barrier to PS3 gaming.  I’d bet that most people already have a second TV anyway.  My house had two or three TV’s for most of the time I was growing up through the 90’s and my parents are certainly not rich.

      If you really need to get a second TV, you could probably get a reasonable HD TV for the same price as a Vita and you get to keep your HD resolution, bigger screen and 5.1 surround.

      • Guest

        Most people probably do have a second TV, but very few I suspect have a second TV in their living room. Danfrw, like me, probably likes the idea of being able to utilise the PS3 whilst the TV is in use, but remain in the living room with the family. Yes, a second TV in the living room specifically for the PS3 is an option, but I suspect for most of us it’s unfeasible.

        I’m sure Sony are looking at all aspects and will announce something eventually. Yes, there is a risk that allowing remote play will hurt Vita title sales, but it will also boost hardware sales and mean that people get through PS3 titles quicker. I have a backlog of games and until they’re finished I’m not buying new PS3 titles, and when I finally do finish them there’ll be more old titles to pick up cheap instead of buying the newest titles. The Vita would allow me 1-2 hours play a night without affecting family life and that time would translate to more, not less, game sales.

  • PSfanboy

    I could see a few situations were remote play could be useful. On the can, someone wants to watch TV when you want to play, someone is asleep in the room your PS3 is in. I’m sure some could come up with more examples. As far as using remote play over 3G I’m pretty sure they didn’t mention anything about that. I might be wrong though. I do hope they implement it soon. Remote play is on top of the list of reasons I bought mine.

  • jspillen

    I absolutely love my Vita and I’m excited for the features to continue to get updated.  I did expect to be able to stream my PS3 games… and I have re-purchased Killzone 2 and Killzone 3 in anticipation. 

    However, whatever Sony has to do to make this machine work is pretty much OK with me.  There isn’t another experience for Portable gaming that comes close in my opinion.  I have a 3DS but I normally end up feeling like the games aren’t mature enough for my tastes.  The Vita has the potential to give me the type of games I’m shopping for.

    Keep bringing me better and better games and keeping bringing more services.  But just do whatever it takes to make it profitable enought to makes sure it keeps on moving forward. 

  • Mcdonaldsm925

    well i think to make it a ps plus suggestion is perfect or make a new pitch and sell two games for one price then give us the feature then we will have to buy the ps vita software in the bundle 

  • MartinB105

    Remote Play would be nice to have, but it’s usefulness is severely limited and would not be the killer app that a lot of people seem to believe it would be.

    Even if you have the 3G Vita, you won’t be able to stream game video to it because the bandwidth requirement is way too high and most 3G providers have very low caps.

    If you’re at home, then what’s the point in playing on a 540p 5″ screen in stereo when you could just as easily be playing on a 720p/1080p big TV with 5.1 surround?

    The only times you’re left with is those situations where you’re visiting a friends or relatives, or staying in a hotel with wi-fi.  And if you’re doing either of those, then you’ve probably got better things to be doing than playing games anyway.

    And even when it does work, the lag can make a lot of games unplayable anyway (I know, I’ve tried playing some PSOne games with it).

  • Ghislai Comeau

    Wii u will force sony hand on remote play. garantee

  • QoreFromMay2009

    “For example, if Sony were to provide remote play Vita streaming for Assassin’s Creed 3 on PS3, then who would still be willing to pick up Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation that has just been announced?”
    Kind of a bad example, seeing as these are two COMPLETELY different games. But I see your point, would have been better illutrated with something like Sly Thieves in Time or Allstars: Battle Royale

  • as we saw in the past they made bid advertise about linux-ability of the ps3.. which was suddenly removed via firmware update. it is a common move by sony to do so.. which costs them more and more customers in the long run. i do not see myself as a sole sony-console-owner anymore in the next gen. do the math 😉

  • well i’m not buying it until they give me that feature

  • Slymonkeyboy

    I hate to say it, but sometimes it feels as if Sony makes promises to get you to buy a product and then does not deliver.

    I bought a Vita with the hope that I could sometimes use it to play in the same room when my family is using the TV for other purposes.

    I really hope they follow through in making at least some games work with it 

    • Wouldn’t it have been cheaper to buy a larger TV and put it in another room?