The Great VR Experiment Continues
PlayStation VR2 releases this week, and reviews are fantastic. Unsurprisingly, if you’re already sold on VR and have a PlayStation 5, you’re not going to be disappointed by VR on PlayStation 5.
But this is the latest VR device to hit stores, and it’s yet another test of just how this area of the industry is going to go. It’s one thing to have PCVR, it’s another entirely for it to hit the mainstream through consoles.
I say mainstream. That’s probably not true. The Horizon Call of the Mountain set is £569 right now. That’s on top of the £479 to buy the console – sans game. Add extra if you want to play anything that isn’t Horizon Call of the Mountain.
I have strong opinions on the entry price into VR. It’s too much. And while those who can happily afford it will see it as the price for quality, that price is keeping VR from truly getting out of its niche.
But that’s not what this article is about. Instead, I’m interested in what happens next. This is a major milestone for PlayStation, and potentially for VR as well. And while I expect it to be successful within the confines of what PlayStation are expecting, it won’t set the world on fire. How can it?
I suspect that there’s a point that companies are waiting for. This is the run-up to a time when technology gets to a point where it’s powerful and cheap enough. Crowds of people are waiting for that to happen, and businesses are likely waiting and hoping that happens too.
But what they didn’t expect was a chip shortage. And a general disinterest in VR. And all the things that happened with Meta. That’ll only get worse.
The Growth of VR
Yes, VR isn’t where it needs to be. But one day it will be. The hope – like with 3D before it – is that there ends up a crossroads of interest and capability at a time that’s viable. That means hopefully not in a decade.
If companies have to keep shipping “premium” devices that attract high demand from big VR fans but then aren’t really supported beyond the launch window… well, the fanbase just shrinks and shrinks.
PlayStation VR2 could spell a change in direction for Sony. I find it hard to believe – one way or another – that it isn’t the last device of its kind. It’ll either be successful and the next one – touch wood – will be more consumer friendly. It’ll help drive saturation. Maybe we’ll get more groundbreaking experiences, and we’ll get away from it feeling like a novelty in addition to PC/console.
Or it’ll underperform, and it’ll show Sony that VR isn’t the most viable addition to their console line-up. They’ll maybe do a PSVR3, but it’ll be another “premium” product that they create (and price) within the limited market. Those that get it rave about it, but nobody else really cares. And why would they?
One of these is good for the direction of VR. The other isn’t. It’ll be interesting to see how things play out.