PlayStation Remote Play Review From a Cloud Gamer

PS Remote Play Backbone One Controller

As an Editor here at Cloud Dosage, I’m obviously quite enamored with Cloud Gaming technology. But, unfortunately, not every game can be played in my favorite way at the moment. Final Fantasy XVI is one of those titles that has yet to hit the cloud.

In lieu of the cloud, I have been playing a lot of the game via PlayStation “Remote Play.” The experience is definitely more than passable with an Android Phone (Pixel 7). For reference, I’ve got a PS5 connected with ethernet and am using an Eero Pro 6e WiFi setup that my phone connects to. Here is how I breakdown the good and bad parts of the experience.

The Good:

The entire experience is definitely more than passable. I was able to play many hours of FFXVI on my phone in various parts of my house without any major incidents.

It’s a very nice high quality stream. I can’t tell the exact resolution I’m seeing, but the image looks sharp and smooth (even if FFXVI itself is playing in quality mode at 30FPS – don’t get me started about the logic of those who whine about needing 60FPS).

When you turn on Remote Play from your phone, your TV doesn’t turn on (like it would if you turned the PlayStation on for real). In addition, another person could be doing something else entirely on the TV while you are playing.

Having remote play conveniently available to launch on a whim requires keeping your PlayStation 5 in “Rest Mode.” The good news is that I did a power measurement and found the PlayStation 5 Rest Mode to be pretty efficient – using almost exactly 1.0 Watt. This is important because, unlike a server blade in the cloud which can be used by other gamers or for other purposes (training AI models etc.) when you are not gaming, any power used in Rest Mode is pretty much a total waste of energy. 1 Watt, though, is about the same power as a LED night light.

The Bad:

Here are the things that bugged me or didn’t quite meet my expectations as a cloud gamer.

The official PS Remote Play app doesn’t appear to support the Razer Kishi, the GameSir X2 Pro and most other mobile controllers. I found out (only after ordering a Backbone PS edition) that there is a third party Android community app (the name is PSPlay and it can be purchased for $5) that does allow you to use the above controllers and any other controller you like. The fact that the official app doesn’t support these popular mobile controllers feels pretty lame on Sony’s part.

With the Sony blessed Backbone PS edition controller, the experience is definitely more than passable but still isn’t great… There are no physical buttons for either the touchpad click or the PlayStation button. Both of which are kind of important (the touchpad click in particular brings up the map in FFXVI)! You end up pretty frequently having to let go of the controller to double tap your screen during gameplay. It can be a bit of a clunky experience.

To be able to “press” the PlayStation button, you need to turn on a persistent row of icons that basically make the bottom strip of the game non-viewable. You can collapse this row, but it means accessing the PS button next requires you to tap to expand the row and then tap again on another part of the screen (both after taking your hand off the controller).

Soft PS Button when Playing PlayStation Remote Play With Backbone One Controller

It doesn’t work great outside of my home. While I have Xfinity Gigabit home Internet, the connection is Xtremely asymmetrical. I get well over a gigabit per second down but just about 30 mbps up (which is actually more than many cable internet subscribers). That upload bandwidth is also shared with several Nest Cams and other activities on my network. So, connecting to my home PS5 from outside my network even in the same city yielded a less than stellar experience (even with my phone on a solid Wifi connection). It was significantly worse than within the house – it frequently dropped to what looked like 480P or 360P at best. If you have a symmetrical fiber connection, you are probably in better shape. But, either way, you can forget about connecting from the other side of the country on travel.

Will the PlayStation Portal Make Remote Play Better?

PlayStation Portal

The PlayStation Portal is an upcoming device that will be sold by PlayStation as a remote play companion for your console. It runs a heavily customized version of Android that is locked down to PlayStation content. While this is sure to be “jailbroken” almost immediately, you won’t be playing Android games, retro-games or using any cloud gaming apps on this device in stock mode.

We’ve known ever since the initial reveal that the device wouldn’t support cloud gaming at launch. While it certainly seems possible cloud gaming support could be added down the line, it’s a missed opportunity at the moment.

On the positive side, I have to say that the $199 price point is quite good! And, the device will rock the same advanced haptic feedback that the PS5 Dual Sense controllers have. As an aside, I personally really like the localized haptics but don’t particularly like the dynamic resistance on the triggers – which I find makes my fingers sore.

Another good thing is that the device does appear to have a physical PS button! This was one of my gripes with using the official Remote Play app with the Backbone controller. It doesn’t look like a physical touchpad button is included, however. That is a bit of a bummer.

The device also doesn’t support bluetooth headphones. That’s also a bit of a bummer, but I do understand the concerns about latency – which can be hit or miss depending on your device, your headset and your settings. Pro Tip: turn off HD Audio if you have Pixel Buds.

The main issue for me with the PlayStation Portal, though, is that I just don’t need or want another device to carry around and try to keep charged – especially one that does so little and is so bulky. While the device may make the PlayStation Remote Play experience a bit better, many of the issues brought up above still apply.

In conclusion, while PlayStation Remote Play is totally workable at home (and I’m grateful it exists!), what I still really want is PlayStation Cloud support on mobile devices and less controller gate keeping… I do suspect the delivery of cloud functionality is on the way. PlayStation is actively working on rolling out more cloud gaming features as we speak! But, it can’t come soon enough for this cloud gamer’s purposes.


Jack Deslippe

Jack Deslippe is an HPC professional with a PhD in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley. As a hobby, he is passionate about consumer technology and Cloud Gaming in particular. He volunteers as an editor for Cloud Dosage in his spare time. See the games Jack is Playing at ExoPhase. Like his content? You can follow Jack on Threads: @jackdeslippe and Buy Jack a Beer.

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