Sunday, April 28, 2019

Remote Play

By: Patrick Morris

Hey everybody welcome back to LegalSpeak a ColdNorth Production. I'm TheLawMorris and this is the video essay series where I get to talk about the games I have been playing and what I think of the medium as a whole. You can see everything we do all in one spot over at This week we are going to be talking about Sony's Remote Play endeavor so lets get right to it!

Remote Play is actually quite the technological feat even by todays standards. For the uninitiated: when a PlayStation user plays using a remote play capable device their PlayStation is doing all the heavy lifting somewhere else and simply streaming a feed of what it's outputting to the players screen over the internet. Then as the player inputs controls through that device whether it be a dualshock 4, the god awful on screen controls on the iOS and android apps, or even the almost entirely useless rear touch pad on the PlayStation vita the device then streams those inputs back to the PlayStation. What makes this so incredibly impressive is the round trip that all this data is taking can be done quickly enough for some less twitchy games to even be playable.

Remote play is a seriously intense technology but it hasn’t been able to really gather any meaningful momentum in the years since it's inception because not only is the tech extremely situational but the use cases haven't been really well defined or at least they haven't been advertised to the end user effectively. What we have seen of remote play in advertising has been college students playing giant adventures like The Witcher 3 in between class on their PS vita's or gathered together on their lunch hour playing online multiplayer games on their vita's. Come on Sony we all know that there hasn’t been two PlayStation vita's in the same room since they left the factory, that’s about as laughable as people gathering to watch a Killzone Shadowfall match. Now I understand the point of showing off these idealistic use cases is to make the consumer believe that if they buy into the product this is what their life will be, its simple advertising but those arent use cases that I would want.

After watching several ads for the PS4, PS vita, and PSTV I was only able to find one ad that portrayed the exact message Sony should be trying to send with remote play: use this shit like a Wii U. When you want to have something else on in the background, when someone else wants to use the TV, or when you cant decide between spending your entire Saturday in bed or playing PS4 that’s when you should be using remote play! Frankly remote play is an incredible concept that was introduced before the technology was ready for it but now the tech is catching up and we can only hope that Sony doesn’t abandon such a good idea as they prepare to move onto the PlayStation 5.

It's funny that technology is finally catching up to concept as we close out the PS4 generation because remote play was introduced in early 2010 on the PSP and PS3. At the time it was seen as a pie in the sky idea that nobody really wanted but over the last nine years Sony has continued to stick with it developing hardware and software to cater to what they see as a major feature in the future of gaming. The PS vita was released shortly after the announcement of remote play and what was a cool idea on PSP was suddenly starting to seem more realistic on PS vita.  While remote play between the PSP or PS vita and PS3 was only ever really a proof of concept Sony backed the idea hard as they moved into the PS4 streamlining the development process then requiring every single game on the platform to support the feature. In the build up to the release of the eighth generation of consoles both Sony and Microsoft were positioning themselves behind one killer accessory, Microsoft the Kinect and Sony the Vita. Remote play was used as a major selling point in a ton of the advertising for the PS4 and they were trying to use the feature to sell PS vita's.

After a few failed years of their attempt to pivot the vita from being it's own robust platform the way the PSP had been to being a way to take your PS4 with you the cracks in the dam were starting to show. In 2015 Sony released the remote play app on Windows and macOS allowing users to connect a dualshock 4 to their mac or PC then remote into their PS4 from anywhere in the world. Once this was released I personally started using remote play more often and the image Sony had sold me was starting to become a reality. Suddenly a two hour break between classes wasn’t spent browsing reddit on my phone or working on homework I was sitting down in the library and playing my PS4. The picture was starting to come together for the vision Sony had used to sell me a PS4, a PS vita TV, and two PS vita's. and actually just recently another big push was made towards making the remote play dream a reality.

On March 7th Sony quietly released the remote play app for iOS allowing iPhone users the world over to log into their PS4 and play with some of the worst touch controls the world has ever seen. Overall the app works really well, connection is great, the functionality is limited but simple to use, and if you're really dying to use a controller the app is compatible with all MFI controllers. Sony has finally stopped trying to use the PS4 to sell remote play capable hardware and made most hardware remote play capable to sell the PS4 which is the direction that relationship should have been going this entire time. Now if they could just get off their asses and make a MFI certified dualshock 4 with a first party phone clip they would actually be able to sell me that hardware.

Since its release on iOS remote play has breathed new life into my day one PS4. When I upgraded to a PS4pro my original PS4 became the living room's PS4, used once in a blue moon when my girlfriend wants to play overcooked or gang beasts. But since the remote play app was released that PS4 gets played every single day. As I mentioned a few weeks ago my girlfriend is obsessed with the Sims and she loves to play her Sims on PS4. So I wanted her to be able to play her Sims in bed or on the couch while I watch TV or in my home office while I play something more interesting but once again the on screen controls became a problem. I looked into it and found a remarkably effective workaround that lets you play the PS4 with a dualshock 4 on your phone through remote play the same way you would enjoy the Wii U.

To make the explanation quick: download the remote play app on your iPhone or iPad. Don’t log into your PSN account. Create an alternate account and log into that account on both your PS4 and your app. Boot up your PS4 by connecting to it through your phone, youll automatically be logged into your alt account. Now as long as you're within Bluetooth range press the PlayStation button on your dualshock 4 and select your main account to login. Press the PlayStation button one more time to be taken to that profile and feel free to wander your house and play your PS4 like it's a Wii U. I keep saying that and it's only just occurring to me how sad it is for Nintendo that Sony was able to implement the main selling point of the Wii U into their console after release.

It's really easy to say that the video game industry hasn’t changed or innovated in years but looking back over even just the PS4's lifespan Sony has brought an ass load of innovation to market. Remote play, PlayStation VR, and PS vue all spring to mind. These are all truly game changing innovations that while they havent been able to find a ton of success this generation I really hope are maintained moving forward. With as much as remote play has improved since 2010 I want to see it continue, they are so close to what was originally envisioned. If anyone from Sony is watching this please PLEASE have a remote play app ready on launch day with the PS5, please get that MFI certification so I can connect my controller to my phone wirelessly, and please build a more portable folding version of the dualshock 5 with a built in phone mount. The age of the Sony handheld is regrettably over but that doesn’t mean that they cant pull a Sega and utilize other manufacturers hardware to keep the dream alive.

Is anyone here as big a believer in remote play as I am? What have your experiences with remote play been like? Let me know in the comments down below. If you're new here don’t forget to hit that subscribe button for a new video and two new podcasts every week. You can find everything we do at I will be back next time talking about my thoughts on the current state of virtual reality. Until then just go play some games.

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