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Could the PS Vita be Sony’s secret weapon in pushing the PlayStation 4?

Sony is betting big on cloud gaming for this upcoming console generation. From Gaikai streaming to Internet-enabled remote play of PlayStation 4 games, Sony is primed to set the PS4 apart from the competition by utilising the PlayStation Vita. While the Tokyo company’s mobile gaming sales haven’t been setting the world on fire, a rumoured PS4 and Vita bundle could completely change the game.

Last year, Sony purchased David Perry’s Gaikai for $380 million (£240 million). When the PS4 was announced back in February, Perry actually came out on stage, and laid out the plans for Gaikai integration going forward. While it’s not going to completely revolutionise gaming as we know it, Gaikai has the potential to help make the generational transition a lot smoother this time around. Since the PS3 uses the screwball Cell architecture, it’s a real hassle to port PS3 games directly to the Vita or PS4. With Gaikai, Sony has the potential to keep the whole back catalogue in the cloud, and stream it to any Internet-connected device.

One of the most exciting features launching alongside the PS4 is universal remote play. While the PS3 dabbled lightly with PSP and Vita remote play for a handful of titles, all PS4 games will work out of the box on the Vita via local Wi-Fi or the Internet. The possibility of pausing a PS4 game, and then finishing your session on your Vita while you wait at the doctor’s clinic is something to actually get excited about.

In the past few years, Sony has done a respectable job of offering “cross buy” games for the Vita and PS3 (where you buy a game on the Vita, and you receive a copy of it on the PS3 as well). Even better, this comes with the ability to sync game saves. Provided that Sony keeps up the pace with this feature on the PS4, even customers with lacklustre Internet connections can take full advantage of both platforms without buying two versions of every game.

Even with all of these valuable additions, the PS Vita still starts at £170 – and that’s a tough sell to many consumers who already plan on dropping £350 on a PS4 this year. What if the Vita came with the PS4, though? A recent rumour has surfaced claiming that Sony plans on shipping a PS4 and PS Vita bundle before the end of the year for a surprising $500 asking price in the US – perhaps that would translate to £400 (or just over, more likely) in the UK.

If this rumour turns out to be true, this one-two punch from Japan could leave Microsoft’s standard £430 Xbox One looking like highway robbery. Oddly enough, the Vita might be just what Sony needs to give the PS4 that extra edge in the competition against the Xbox.

For more on the PS4, see Sony's PlayStation 4 is poised to take the next-gen console crown, and Xbox One and PlayStation 4 tech specs are "essentially the same" according to John Carmack.