There’s no question that a brand new piece of gaming hardware can make headlines these days, especially when it’s coming from one of the industry’s top companies. But a piece of hardware is only as impressive as the functionality it provides, not how powerful the inner components really are. So while the PS Vita turned plenty of heads coming out of this year’s E3, we’ve been scratching our heads as to how exactly the handheld device would interface with the company’s home console. Thanks to Sony, we now know that the Vita won’t just be useful to gamers on the go, but could also function as a controller for the PlayStation 3.

It’s not as if we needed to be sold on the device, since the visuals and technology at work more than impressed us at E3 2011. But Sony hasn’t just been pitching the Vita as a mobile gaming platform, but one that would work in unison with the PS3, delivering a much richer and multi-faceted gameplay experience than we’ve been used to.

At Sony’s Press Conference, the developers of Ruin demonstrated what the company is calling ‘Continuation Play.’ The game was played on the Vita, saved via PSN, then continued on the PS3 right where it left off. The idea was obviously an inspired one, but we’ve been hoping that the cross-platform functionality would mean more than just access to to saved game files.

At the Develop Conference this week, Sony Europe Research & Development manager Phil Rogers revealed that the possibilities for the Vita were far greater than console-level gaming. According to Eurogamer, Rogers began brainstorming on ways that developers could use the Vita and the PS3 together, starting things off with a bit of a bombshell:

“What could you do with all of this? Here’s a few boring technical ideas: you could drive a display from a PS3 game, for example…PS3 can send data down to Vita and Vita can display it. You could use the unique features [of Vita] – gyroscope, touch front and back – as a control device for a PS3 game.

“You can run software on both devices and use the network to sync the game states. And that’s pretty good, because you then have the processing power of PS3 doing that work, Vita [doing] fancy graphics – however you want to do it. You’re not sacrificing the PS3’s CPU to be able to have a rich experience on Vita.”

We’ve been speculating that the announcement of Nintendo’s Wii U would force Sony to start thinking along the same lines, but it seems that the two companies have strikingly similar intentions with their new platforms. The range of touch and motion controls given to the Vita could offer a seriously intriguing experience when used as an input device for a PS3 game, but exactly how that would look in a finished product is anyone’s guess. Rogers did stress that this was a newer idea, but the company was encouraging developers to start considering the function for their won properties.

Some of you may have seen this move from Sony coming, but it’s somewhat shocking to think so much potential is seen in what many expected would be little more than a PSP2. We’ve already heard Ken Levine talk about bringing BioShock to the Vita, and now Sony seems to have a console experience that, at least on the surface, is comparable to that of the Wii U.

What’s your take on the possibility of using the Vita as a controller for a PS3 title? The motion controls aren’t too dissimilar from the current six-axis, but how would the handheld’s touchpads be used to interact with a television display?

We don’t know of any developers who are currently planning on using the Vita’s new feature, but once we do, we’ll bring you the details.

Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: Eurogamer

tags: PS3, Sony, Vita, Wii U