PlayStation VR Is Virtual Reality's Best Chance At Success

In my house right this very second, next to my PC, is a brand new consumer Oculus Rift. An Oculus Rift I don't use very much.

Friends come round, I show them the Rift. I show them virtual reality. The 'future'. They lose their minds. Then they leave, go back to their homes.

I turn off the Rift. I go back to playing Overwatch. I go back to Dark Souls 3. I go back to whatever video game I was playing before they arrived.

It's not that I don't enjoy virtual reality because I absolutely do. I'm in love with the idea of virtual reality. Immersion is a dead word in video game land, but virtual reality is a medium that represents a new, truer immersion. An immersion that sucks you out of the real world into a virtual space. This sounds like hyperbole. It sounds like marketing drivel but anyone who's used an Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive understands there's a truth there.

Modern day virtual reality is incredible.

But on the Oculus Rift particularly the dearth of content is a serious problem. Unless friends are over, unless I have someone new to dazzle, the Rift largely sits unused. It has nothing to do with the quality of the hardware and everything to do with a serious lack of content. I have nothing to play. Nothing to watch. Nothing compelling at least.

Okay, let's talk about PlayStation VR

Very few people are talking about it, but post-E3 I've become more convinced than ever that PlayStation VR represents Virtual Reality's best chance of mainstream success.

With the PlayStation 4, Sony has a device that currently sits in over 40 million homes. Lifetime sales are projected to hit around 100 million. This generation the PlayStation 4 has dominated. It has become the default current generation console for a mainstream audience ala the Wii and PlayStation 2 before it.

The PlayStation 4 is a consistent piece of hardware. There will be no anxiety, no questions. You will not need to upgrade your hardware. When PlayStation VR is launched consumers will be able to buy a VR headset, plug it into a PS4 with limited set-up and consume VR content with ease.

PlayStation VR will cost anything between $550 and $640. About the same as a new phone or a new console. It will be available in-stores. It will not be something you need to order online. It will not be a device you need to pay over $1000 for. There might be limited stock in the early going, but Sony will catch up. Sony will make enough headsets to meet demand. A month or two after launch you will be able to walk into a JB Hi-Fi and buy PlayStation VR for $550. You will not need to wait, you will not need to watch your tracking ID like a hawk, wondering when the Oculus Rift unit you pre-ordered months ago will arrive at your doorstep.

The reality: both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive are niche items aimed at early-adopters with money to burn. It could be years before these products are mainstream ready. PlayStation VR will be mainstream ready at an accessible price point at launch.

But perhaps more importantly, PlayStation VR will launch with content.

It will launch with video games worth playing. After that launch it will be supported with a steady stream of compelling VR experiences.

You will be able to play Gran Turismo Sport with PlayStation VR. This year.

You will be able to play Star Wars Battlefront: X-Wing VR with PlayStation VR. This year.

You will be able to play Rocksteady's new Batman: Arkham VR game using PlayStation VR. This year.

Until Dawn: Rush Of Blood. This year.

Final Fantasy XV. This year.

Resident Evil 7. January of next year.

These are all virtual reality experiences exclusive to PlayStation VR and there's plenty more where that came from.

The potential of all VR is stratospheric. We all know that. But there's been a sense that VR, up until this point, has been dead on arrival. It's expensive, inaccessible and difficult to use for the majority of people. Worst of all, it's actually difficult to buy. Even today, months after release my Oculus Rift is a novelty experienced by very few. I'm the only person in my friend group who has one. One of the few in my professional tech circle that has one.

That will almost certainly not be the case with PlayStation VR. People will buy PlayStation VR. They will buy it because they are being given the opportunity to buy it. That is not the case with the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive, at least here in Australia.

The PlayStation VR is different. This is a consumer product for the mainstream consumer. It is a device that will have interesting content on launch with more to come in the very near future. The quality of the VR compared to the Rift and the Vive is almost irrelevant at this point, because most people haven't even used a VR headset and even if they have the differences will be negligible to the point where quality won't necessarily matter.

At the moment, it feels as though PlayStation VR is virtual reality's best hope for success.


Comments

    At the very least, it'll push Rift/Vive to be more accessible and maybe cheaper.

    Good opinion piece. Thanks.

    Great write-up, Mark.

    Ironic that after chasing the multiplayer/always online and socialising gaming holy grail since the internet became mainstream, we are now being sold the promise of the lone, deliberate, focused and tactile single-player experience once again. That is brilliant marketing, it really is.

      I dunno, the social aspect is a big part of VR. You only need to look at how hard people coming out of Oculus' toybox demo were gushing about the sense of play with a person who was totally there with you despite not being in the same physical space, or all the people who like to go and hang out together in apps like AltSpace or VRChat, or team up to play something like Hover Junkers.

    Yeah, hit the nail on all points I think.

      Have to admit before seeing Sony's VR lineup this year I had 0 interest in anything VR related especially at the price points advertised. With the price for Sony's VR and the games line up even if they're 1 hour chunks of solid fun definitely more interested.

    Can you not watch content on Occulus? Is it just not comfortable enough?

      Comfort's ok, though I think it might currently still be a bit fiddly to do so. Oculus' video app needs you to name the files a particular way and have them in a particular location, there's a few cinema type viewers around I think but they can be a bit annoying too. Plus there's the resolution issue, you'll get a much better picture on a physical screen than on the virtual one.

        Righto. I have a cousin with Gear VR and he watches video in it quite a bit. I gave it a go with some pretty expensive headphones and could totally see myself lying back and watching that way for awhile.

    I already own an Oculus Rift. The point about content is true. I am still waiting for PSVR, because at the moment there's little in it except for the refreshing first experience.
    It's like Wii U, the idea is great and everything works as advertised, but the content commitment is far from strong.
    When PSVR launches I hope to see more multiplats take advantage of the larger install base and stretch their vision to full fledged AAA titles.
    I think the developers are aware of what experiences we'd love to have in VR, but the expected return on those projects probably gets in their way.

      A very good point. Hopefully PSVR will increase the install base to the point where investment in better VR games is viable.

      (Damn wish I'd explored that in the article now!)

        Was a good read so feel free to do a more indepth/explored part 2.

        Last edited 16/06/16 3:45 pm

      Content seems out of this world at if you ask me. Just google 91 confirmed psvr games. Theres alot dude

    Man, I just feel poor now. I don't have a spare $600. :-/

      I feel your pain... I don't even have a playstation 4 and he brings up great points about it having the content at launch :(

    I'm excited about the PSVR but not because of games. It's the fact that it can use the virtual space to let you watch movies and play other games on a simulated screen that's my main reason for wanting one. Hopefully there will be PC support for it at some point because I only ever want to have to buy one headset at any time.

    Me after I saw that price point compared to the Rift/Vive:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2i3zrzyLOCw

      Hah I just realised after posting this that my avatar is me wearing a Rift.

    I won't be getting PSVR until some time after launch, maybe Christmas. I want to see how the software stacks up in terms of being gimmicky or not (I bought PS Move and Wonderbook...lol) and I also want to try it for myself to make sure I won't get sick (although the EB no-questions return policy might take care of that).

    i really cant wait to get mine, rigs looks awesome, valkeryie looks awesome and gt to top it off. robinson is another fantastic looking game

    I was thinking this and then was reminded of what Sony did for DVD and Bluray when they brought out the PS2 and PS3. Sony basically made those 2 platforms the industry leaders at those times. I wouldn't be surprised if PSVR turns out the same way, albeit at a slower rate than DVD and Bluray for obvious reasons

      Oh yes, I remember the good old HD-DVD. "Who needs 25GB storage on optical media?"

      Good thing Sony crushed them under the weight of all those money bags

    A very poorly written article. This year. THIS YEAR.
    Also, screw them for making X-Wing Playstation only, do they want people to play it or not?

    It's extremely obvious you haven't tried the vive. Room scale VR via the vive is most definitely not "dead on arrival" its an amazing experience that the PS VR unit just cannot replicate. No matter what supposed titles are coming it won't even go close. It's most definitely NOT VRs best chance.

      Actually I agree with Mark, you need lower level VR to make it a reality. It's like with Tesla and electric cars - their first models were brilliant, but it's the later cheaper models with less features that will be bought by the masses and make electric cars mainstream. You want your Oculus or Rift to be successful? Then hope that PSVR sells in the millions.

        Firstly have you actually tried a vive? Considering you think the occulus and the rift are the same thing, again I'm betting you haven't. VR is impossible to explain and until you try roomscale VR I honestly do not believe you have experienced true VR. The sit down experience is not even close. This PS VR will fail like all PS peripherals before them. What the vive has achieved is a revolutionary jump forward in VR. It's most definitely ahead of its time and will only get better as devs continue to use these systems and build compelling experiences with them.

        This Sony offering feels heavily half baked and a "me too" gimmick. If anything it will put VR back because it will be poorly received. It won't drag VR fwd.

        The biggest threat to VR is Facebook using a chequebook to try and get exclusive titles or timed releases, VR needs to be an open std so it can grow organically, last thing we need is more walled gardens and an extension of the console wars in a market that has just begun.

          I agree on this. Exclusivity and DRM might ultimately kill VR before it has even had a chance to take off properly. You might get a clear winner on which headset is the best, but if you can't do or play half the things and games promised then what is the point of all that money pumped into bringing VR back into our lives only to bring you a padlocked experience.

            You mean like how exclusivity and DRM killed consoles, right?

            The only people who care about either of those things at all are the PC master race zealots, the average consumer really doesn't give a shit.

            Last edited 17/06/16 12:37 pm

          until you try roomscale VR I honestly do not believe you have experienced true VR. The sit down experience is not even close.Please. That's as inane as saying unless you've played a 3D platformer you haven't truly played a 3D game. The only "true VR" is using a proper headset like what we have now instead of a Virtual Boy. Cockpit-based VR like playing Project Cars with a force feedback wheel or Elite Dangerous with a HOTAS is just as legitimate and amazing a VR experience as your precious "roomscale". And yes I have actually tried a Vive, it was neat enough but nowhere near as mindblowing as I've ever found Elite to be.

          As for Facebook being a threat, I recommend reading through this. And VR needs time to develop before any standards can be agreed upon, it's far too early in the game to be locking down a feature set.

    I don't agree there is comparable content on the rift a like new counce.chronos edge of nowhere elite damgerous and other great games. If mark really loved vr he would be enjoying the rift including a constant stream of demos & films etc. As u finish games more will come out. I think that rift was wasted on mark. He should sell it.

    The rift is similar to a new gaming console the content starts out being less but will become mor. There is enough content now that by the time you play the games and 360 videos and other VR activities there will be more games. There's no way that Mark can be a VR lover. With the lack of Rifts what a waste it is for Mark to own one. He should sell it to somebody that can appreciate it.

    The PlayStation 4 is a consistent piece of hardware. There will be no anxiety, no questions. You will not need to upgrade your hardware. When PlayStation VR is launched consumers will be able to buy a VR headset, plug it into a PS4 with limited set-up and consume VR content with ease.

    I'm sorry what? What is the months of rumours we've been hearing that they're bring out the PS4K specifically to provide a better VR experience!!

    Granted you can use it on the default model but how long is that going to be the case?

    Last edited 17/06/16 3:47 pm

    I turn off the Rift. I go back to playing Overwatch. I go back to Dark Souls 3. I go back to whatever video game I was playing before they arrived.

    And this is why I'm not interested in the slightest in VR at this stage.

    Come back to me when you have games of this calibre in VR, not these shitty tech demos.

    I see where you are coming from with this article and I agree with the last point you make regarding the differences being negligible between hardware.

    I have had the privilege if trying the PSVR at the 2015 EB Games Expo and trying the Rift headset DEV kit 2 on a true free roam VR experience at Zero Latency in Melbourne.

    The biggest difference was how the experiences played out. The PSVR experience was a 10minute tech demo of The Deep (incredible) I couldn't help myself and tried to reach out and touch what was in front of me.

    The Zero Latencey experience on the other hand was walking around in a warehouse wearing a computer on my back moving through a virtual environment... shooting zombies... in a multiplayer environment... and it went for an hour. My mind was officially blown... pieces of it scattered on the floor.

    If you are comparing picture quality and response, the headsets are much of a muchness. As for comfort, the PSVR was marginally better but I wasn't walking around. What it will come down to is buy-in-price (budget) as well as space. I know I will not be able to replicate the Zero Latency experience at home. It helps that there is a good catalogue of games and experiences for it

    This will be VR for the mainstream, released in a large scale, for everyday consumers.

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