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PSP2, Switch 2 and an Xbox handheld... a brighter portable future?

Perhaps its the silly season in gaming news, ignoring Xbox's self-inflicted recent strategic wounds, but we've got "sources" talking, gossipers going full-bore and all sorts of potential new hardware being talked about lurking in the roadmaps.

Whether none, one (okay, Switch 2 is happening) or all of them are true, it looks like the hardware makers have realised the high-risk strategy of pushing ever-greater specs in decreasing life-cycles, and are may try broadening the entertainment experience for gamers. 

Do I really want an 8K PlayStation 6 burning a hole in my entertainment centre, running off a roof of solar panels and leaking coolant over my Uncharted map rug? (Yes, but it'll be way down the list!) Also, apologies for the terrible AI renders, but I am not a designer and I like the quirks!

PlayStation Going Portable Again?

I've already chatted about the potential for a Vita/PSP2 beyond the PlayStation Portable and what it could deliver. I'd be pleasantly surprised if it happens, but a changing market could force Sony to revisit a proper portable, and that would be a delight.  

One sad part of that idea, there's no going back to the days of PSP/Vita indie developers, and niche off-shoots of big-name titles, the budget just isn't there as proven by the massive ongoing industry jobs massacre. Instead, it'll play games from current/past PlayStation eras, perhaps with innovative integrations with the mother ship console. 

playstation portable 2

Will Nintendo Switch Up or Smaller? 

More likely to happen, Nintendo needs to create some more leg room in a Switch 2 for future titles. And it has to do that while retaining backward compatibility for the hugely successful hybrid, and its monster collection of carts and indie downloads. All that seems so obvious, that it has to be true. 

But there's still room for innovation! Given I still hate the size and unwieldly nature of the Switch, how about a Switch 2 mini, riffing nostalgically back at the other Nintendo handheld variants? And I get the feeling that Nintendo will bow to the pressure of users wanting entertainment apps, a better social environment and other tweaks to make it an all-rounder device. 

nintendo switch 2 concept

An early 2025 launch, as the chatterers opine, would allow Nintendo to clear the current supply chain and stock of existing systems, with a strong sale effort to goose the 2024 holiday season. Then it can head into the second half of the decade with a more powerful Switch offering to drive NG Mario, Zelda et al (and fix the JoyCons!). 

Xbox Wants to Play Big

Which leaves Xbox struggling on where to head next with low hardware sales but a monster roster of developers across PC and other hardware. There's a modest chance of them coming out with a dedicated portable, even if its really just a rebranded Steam Deck with Surface stylings. 

One that gives them more ways to sell Game Pass subscriptions. That makes sense, given Microsoft's strong foray into powerful Surface devices, and they could go all-in on some future all-screen or  (apologies again for this terrible AI render but I do love the militaryian look!) 

xbox portable concept

In summary, 2025 and beyond could easily see a revival in portable gaming, as the big three try to position their console offering for maximum effect to attract new developers and broaden their base. 

  • Sony has the least to win as long as it dominates big-screen console sales, but won't want to be caught out by where Nintendo goes with Switch 2.
  • Nintendo is likely to stay in its happy mushroom-bordered lanes while broadening the appeal of any future device and expanding the platform roster ala 3DS/XL/2DS/minis/STB. 
  • And Microsoft has the budget and the developer power to do something expressive to shake up the market, if it has the aggressive will to outflank the corporate bean counters. 

All of this in a landscape packed with portable PC and Android gaming devices. Whatever happens, once we get past the gossip phase, it is going to fun, so stick around for the ride! Until then, I'm waiting for the PlayStation Portal to get back in stock and for MS and Nintendo to shock us with something amazing! 

Currently playing on my Vita/PS4/PS5