Remote Play, Sony's biggest area of opportunity in its Xperia line

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.

I haven’t been using the Sony Xperia Z5 for all that long, honestly, but in the short time I’ve had in my possession, one thing dawned upon me. No, I’m not talking about some of the missed opportunities that would’ve made it stand equally with some of its distinguished contemporaries, like the Galaxy S6, LG G4, iPhone 6s, Nexus 6P, and much more. Rather, I’m more shocked by the lack of how one of its exclusive features isn’t being capitalized to its fullest extent.

Sony’s track record hasn’t been all that great here in the US, evident in how it seems we’re the last major market to ever see the light of day regarding the latest and greatest Xperia smartphones. Just last summer is evidence enough in that, in how the then Verizon-bound Xperia Z4v, a smartphone that blended the Z3+ and Z4 together, was mentioned to launch by the end of summer 2015 – only to be canceled suddenly, and without any sort of reasonable justification. This is the reality with Sony’s Xperia smartphones here in the US, which might be the same for whatever might come next.

The advent of capacitive touch redefined mobile gaming

I’m not sure how some of you folks game nowadays, but for me, I still have a knack for the usual console experience. Mobile gaming has seen a radical change with the introduction of capacitive touchscreen on smartphones, however, if you really think about how they’re carried out, the majority of them still heavily rely on simple touches, taps, and swipes – the kind of games often seen as guilty pleasures with today’s smartphone users.

These touch friendly games cover the gamut, from puzzle games such as Bejeweled and Angry Birds, rail games like Temple Run and Sonic Dash, and even ‘freemium’ strategy games such as Clash of Clans and Empire, these are the typical kinds of games specifically made for today’s smartphones. For me, though, they’re all short-lived, due to how the novelty of the games eventually wear off, which brings me back to why I prefer console gaming so much more.

And then there are handheld consoles

Sony is no stranger to handheld consoles, having made the first-generation Sony PlayStation Portable, the PSP for short, back as far as 2004. Through the years since then, the PSP has undergone several changes and designs, eventually being discontinued as the current-generation of consoles were released – the PlayStation 4 to be exact. With the arrival of that console, Sony delivered an intriguing prospect with the PlayStation Vita, a mobile handheld console that blends the gameplay typically found in consoles with today’s touch-friendly titles rampant amongst smartphones.

Actually, I own and continue to use the PlayStation Vita, mainly because of the vast catalog of games at its disposal. I’m not just talking about the digital ones specifically made for it, but rather, all the other titles from Sony’s previous consoles. Quite frankly, it culminates in being one versatile machine for mobile gaming, thanks primarily to its console-like controller layout and OLED touchscreen – the latter of which is the first in Sony’s history.

To tell you the truth, I rarely play the exclusive titles for it, but rather, I mainly use it for its most intriguing prospect…

Remote Play, it’s not something new

Always the one to be enthralled by console games, I’ve always dreamed about the day when console-grade games would be able to run flawlessly on a smartphone. Sure, there are mobile games developed to fully utilize the hardware in today’s top-shelf smartphones, but there are still more developers opting to go with the console route first before anything else. There’s just no comparing the quality between the two, whether it’s the production value or graphics, console games still reign supreme.

Sony, however, developed a way to do just that with the introduction of Remote Play – a feature in which certain PlayStation games can be streamed to a mobile device. This became a reality first with the Xperia Z3 line, subsequently being expanded to other devices, including the just recently made available Sony Xperia Z5. With the aid of the optional game control mount, along with a DualShock 4 controller, it transforms the Xperia Z5 into a powerful gaming console.

I’ve been enjoying the Remote Play feature, allowing me to stream some of my PlayStation 4 games to the Xperia Z5 – such as Last of Us, Grand Theft Auto 5, and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Sure, the graphics are scaled and toned down, due to streaming limitations, but games are largely playable. Latency will always be a concern, but seeing that I play mostly single player games, it doesn’t adversely affect my experience. Although, I can see how it can with multi-player titles.

However, it’s not being fully capitalized, but there’s potential

One of my biggest qualms about Sony here in the US, is that they’re not as aggressive in selling its smartphones. You’d think that they’d be more aggressive as others, especially when they have such a profound presence in almost every consumer electronics category out there, but they’ve been rather subdued.

Remote Play, in my opinion, is the hidden gem in the Xperia line’s arsenal – no other smartphones can claim to offering PlayStation 4 titles on the go. Yes, the PlayStation Vita offers the same functionality, but the actual experience isn’t quite as practical, mainly due to the inconveniences brought on by its adaptation of “R2” and “L2” triggers. Those two buttons are accessed via the touchpad on its back side, which can’t act similar to the analog shoulder triggers of the DualShock 4 controller.

The unfortunate part about it all, is that Remote Play is being undermined because it’s not being talked about as much, nor is it being capitalized in selling the phone. In order to use Remote Play, you have to first own a PlayStation console and DualShock 4 controller, and then purchase the Game Control Mount ($40 cost).

Sadly, there’s no incentive being offered by anyone to entice prospective buyers – leaving consumers to look past the Xperia line, and opt for something else entirely different. If Sony were to at least offer some sort of discount, or even a bundle, there would be more people inclined to buy an Xperia smartphone just because it features Remote Play. How about a bundle that would give a significant discount to the Xperia Z5 with the purchase of a PlayStation 4 console? Or maybe buy the Game Control Mount and receive 3 or 6 months of PlayStaion Now for free?

These are all viable suggestions that would undeniably bring the focus to Sony’s Xperia smartphones here in the US. Looking at what history has shown us, Sony still has an uphill battle ahead of itself, but if they’re able to carefully plot out and fully commit to having a meaningful campaign around the Remote Play feature, it’s quite possible for them to easily become a top 5 player once again – even from a global level.

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