PS VR vs PC VR, And Why It All Depends On Sony

The bloom has slowly been coming off VR’s rose on PC, as expensive hardware, floor space requirements, image quality issues, cabling woes, the delay to Oculus Touch controllers and too many underwhelming, bite-size launch titles transformed this from beautiful dream to compromised reality. The show’s not over, of course: this is but generation one, from both a software and hardware perspective, but it needs a new fire lit under it.

Meanwhile, on PlayStation, the excitement is on the rise rather than the wane.

Clearly this can be at least partially attributed to PlayStation VR not being released until October, so prospective fans’ heads are currently as filled with fond imaginings of ultimate escapism as I know I was in the months leading up to the Vive’s release. Their optimism is aided and abetted by three big factors, however, and while I am both burned by PC VR hype and very conscious of the failures of PS Move and Kinect I do believe that PSVR has at least a shot at going big.

The first factor is that PSVR, while in most respects lesser hardware than Oculus Rift and Vive, looks set to be a slicker, easier, more straightforwardly compatible headset that removes both the need for a high-end graphics card and doesn’t involve quite so many cables and accessories. My work room is a maze of wires thanks to the Vive, it took half a day to setup and I’m already looking at replacing what is an only year-old £350 graphics card in order to be able to use Valve’s headset at anything like its full potential.

By contrast, in theory I can just plug a PSVR into my PS4 and it’ll be hot to trot – the console’s infuriating propensity to install a massive firmware update every other time I turn it on notwithstanding.

In theory, anyway; I must admit that I look at the contents of the PSVR box and feel tired at the thought of having to plug all that stuff in, then find somewhere to tuck it all away again when I’m not using it. The headset does, after all, have its own breakout box, which is primarily dedicated to enabling various dual-display trickery so that the HDTV can have a function to perform while you’re off in facebox land.

That aside, there’s simply no way that Sony will allow PSVR setup and usage to be even remotely as involved as Vive or Rift’s are – it needs to be something that parents can hurriedly configure for their kids on Christmas day, and it needs to be something that someone who doesn’t ever go into settings menus can use. If they can get this right, despite all those cables, PSVR could be something that Normals look upon and think “yeah, I can see that in my lounge” as opposed to either being scared of the complexity or put off by the ‘orrible mess it’ll make of their TV cabinet.

Factor two! It’s cost. Obviously it’s cost. Despite all the technocrati braying about how £600+ for a Vive or Rift was perfectly reasonable for bleeding-edge, high-end tech and that people happily spend that much on an only marginally changed new tellingbone from Cupertino, the fact remains that it’s a shitload of money, especially when it’s for a fairly speculative add-on to an existing system rather than a whole new device, and clearly that limits it to sub-set of monied early-adopters.

I mean, it’s two PlayStation 4s, and for many just that console is a major, multi-year investment. £350 for PSVR kicks down a great many doors that Vive and Rift could not, although even then it’s a long way North of suck it and see curiousity, or even Christmas wish-lists. I do think we need to see it sub-£300, and ideally £199, in order to have a realistic shot at mass adoption, but I appreciate entirely that there are costs to be met. Still, at least it’s not in ‘cancel the family holiday!’ territory.

Factor three is what we’re seeing at E3 this week – a slew of big-name brands and licenses announcing VR titles. If you want yer Key Demographic on board, you need Batman and Star Wars on there – and PSVR is getting Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham VR at launch along with an X-Wing VR mission for Star Wars: Battlefront. Ideally there’d Call of Duty or Battlefield too, and there are indeed rumours, but those guys are clearly biding their time for now. There’s Resident Evil 7 and Final Fantasy XV too, along with various first-party stuff, and all-told it’s a much stronger hand than the more imaginative but far less familiar fare we saw for the Vive and Rift launches. (Of course, some or even much of this may come to PC too – I do wonder if PC will end up getting a middleground headset, probably not from Oculus or Valve, that can do stuff like this at PSVR quality for a similar price.)

For a mass audience, the question of ‘OK, but what do I play on it?’ is handily answered by a bit of superheroing or X-Winging, though it remains to be seen if such things can become fully-fleshed experiences or suffer from the same short-lived mini-game woes which has characterised so much of PC VR. At least, it seems, the PS4’s DualShock pad will be the primary means of interaction, which means this thing would seem to be catering for the trad. gaming audience right out of the gate rather than trying to do a Wii.

These are strong factors that make PSVR a more commercially viable prospect than the higher-end but more niche offerings currently available on PC, and I’m not actually saying that in order to kick anyone when they’re down. If Sony get this right and PSVR does well, then VR becomes truly established and we’re definitely going to benefit from that over here, whether it’s with more games (and more ambitious games) for Vive and Oculus, a mid-range headset for the masses or the fast-tracked release of an even higher-end headset that resolves image quality gripes, as well as further investment in the wireless facebox of our dreams. I believe that PC VR needs PlayStation VR to succeed if it’s to find its feet any time soon.

Fingers crossed this can happen in tandem with sufficient adoption of the new-gen graphics cards from NVIDIA (and hopefully AMD in due course) that boast tech designed to cut down on the requirement for a PC’s GPU as it renders two different scenes simultaneously, which promises an enormous boost to frame rate and therefore scene complexity and even anti-aliasing. As well as being a boon to upcoming dedicated VR ports, such as Bethesda’s DOOM and Fallout VR side projects due next year, this would open the door to simply playing non-VR games on a giant virtual screen, which is something I’m very keen to do but is essentially impossible with my current hardware.

Against all these potential positives for PSVR and what it might mean for virtual reality as a whole is the matter of specs – both of the headset itself and the looming discrepancy between launch PS4 and the upcoming ‘4K’ revision, the PS4 Neo. Which I’ll get to shortly, but the all-encompassing fact is that, on either hardware SKU, PSVR’s resolution is a whole lot lower than VR’s leading lights on PC.

PSVR has a per-eye res of 960 x 1,080 against Vive and Rift’s 1,080 x 1,200, which doesn’t immediately look like an enormous step-down, but do the multiplication and we’re talking about 1,296,000 pixels vs 1,036,800 – a quarter million pixels fewer. Given that Vive and Oculus already put out an image that has the disappointing appearance (if not numbers) of 720p, worsened by the immense magnification involved in pushing the thing right against your peepers, we can expect to notice this shortfall.

In fact, PSVR’s resolution matches that of the much older Oculus DK2, which I know from experience was fairly blocky and created huge legibility issues for in-game text. This may not be quite the problem it sounds, so long as every PSVR game is designed with this in mind, and finds ways to make big fat fonts not look too ridiculous. Fine for punchy old Batman, but more problematic for anything with dialogue trees or big inventories. Doesn’t mean that it can’t be overcome with smart UI thinking, but it’s definitely a major roadblock to getting any old thing going on PSVR, and that may complicate getting out sufficient full-fat, big name games to make PSVR a big commercial success.

Then there’s the matter of the PlayStation 4’s own specs, which are a long way South of the GTX 970 minimum required to not have an awful time with a Vive. Against that is that PS4 has single-spec, known quantity hardware which developers can optimise for to a degree they simply can’t for the wide spread of PC systems. Doesn’t mean there won’t be big compromises in prettiness, especially because PSVR boasts a 120 Hz refresh rate (against Vive and Rift’s 90, and the DK2’s 75).

If you’re unfortunate enough to follow the wars in consoleland, you’ll know that there’s no end of bellyaching about PS4 and Xbone games not even managing the magic 60 frames per second – so 120, or even 90, is a tall order for the hardware. Especially once you weave in the fact that Sony want to do all kinds of display mirroring onto an HDTV, and even interactive stuff for a second player.

Again, extreme optimisation for fixed spec is PSVR’s ace in the hole, but there’s no escaping that what we’ll see will be a step down in image quality from the best and brightest of PC VR. The key question is whether it’s good enough to make the hardware appealing to enough people.

A further spanner in the works is the matter of PS4 Neo, a third generation (the second had the same specs but is less nosiy) of PlayStation 4 hardware whose headline feature is to games at 4K. While uncharacteristically water-muddying for the console market, and also particularly aggravating for those of us who already have a PS4 (I bought one like four months ago, for Chrissakes), it’s an understandable move given how many people have recently picked up 4K TVs. Not that there’s much 4K stuff around to watch as yet, but having actual 4K games rather than upscaled 1080p will make them feel a whole lot better about their ultra-res purchase.

The lingering question, though, is whether PSVR is really made for PS Neo, and if anyone who picks up a headset to use with their first or second-gen PS4 is going to be horribly disappointed – either because games look like bum or because the most exciting stuff simply isn’t released for the older hardware. If this isn’t played right, it’d be a huge kick in the plums for VR. Unless, of course, Neo is a runaway success, but I suspect it’ll take a few years before anything like a majority of existing PS4 users pick one up, especially as there’ll now be suspicion that yet another hardware revision could be right around the corner.

To their credit, Sony are making the right noises so far, claiming that all the PSVR games shown at E3 were running on current-gen PS4s rather than the as-yet unseen Neo. “What we can say is that we have a fertile ground of 40m PS4s, all of which will run PlayStation VR,” global head of marketing and sales Jim Ryan told MCV recently. Hopefully that’s true, but I suppose PS4 Neo means they get a second crack at things if the first-gen PSVR experience is too much of a disappointment.

PS boss Andrew House has also claimed that plans are very much for the two PS4s to co-exist. “All games will support the standard PS4 and we anticipate all or a very large majority of games will also support the high-end PS4,” he told the Financial Times earlier this month. Most of all, with PSVR due in October and Neo neither seen or having had full specs revealed as yet, there’s a big chance that the facebox will be available far in advance of the new-gen PS4, and as such it’s unlikely that it’s been designed primarily for that.

If anything, I would guess at a more 4K-esque second gen of PSVR for PS4 Neo – either similar to the Vive and Rift specs or, ideally, even higher res, thus opening the doors to us getting second wave headsets on PC that escape the image quality disappointments of what’s currently available. I would guess at that being at least two years away, however.

But the biggest black mark against PSVR is that both Sony and Microsoft have repeatedly failed to turn their consoles into anything more than traditional gaming boxes. Cameras and motion controllers and PVR features and movie stores and social hubs: none of it has really worked, with the exception of most everyone installing Netflix, Spotify and iPlayer apps.

The Wii broke through the wall because it was a brand new paradigm that brought in brand new people, but virtual reality, in its current forms at least, is too complicated, uncomfortable and, to some people, flat-out weird or even scary, to possibly do that. Even drilling down, does the Call of Duty or Destiny audience really care about it? They certainly didn’t care about PS Move or Kinect. Perhaps Batman and Star Wars – and, if chatter is correct, even COD itself – will prove to be the deciders. The fact remains, though, that Sony are asking their audience to go out of their box + TV comfort zone and it remains to be seen if the promise of VR is enticing about to motivate that.

I hate to say it, because the PC’s flexibility and power makes it a superior test bed with the potential for far better experiences, but I think VR’s gaming future does depend heavily on PSVR: the best shot there is at easy, affordable, mass market hardware that’ll sell the concept to the wider world. If it takes off it’s good news for VR everywhere. If it doesn’t, well, I fear it’ll be quite some time before we see much from VR beyond watching porn on smartphones. Depending, of course, on what Apple might be up to.

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69 Comments

  1. Scelous says:

    I think you might be overstating any sort of disappointment regarding PC VR. John is the only person on the planet I have seen with a truly negative opinion on the new VR, but given that it’s John, that comes as no surprise. Everyone else is saying it’s going to transform gaming as we know it.

    • Xzi says:

      Yeah not sure where the claim that excitement over the Vive is waning comes from. It’s meeting everyone’s expectations and then some. Plus you can get it shipped within three days now. Tons of new Vive games will be out before the end of the summer, and there are lots of good 10+ hour ones available already too.

      Rift has been the only disappointing launch for VR so far, and that’s because it basically failed to launch.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        Is it maintaining that momentum though?

        Realisation is setting in for a lot of people and the cost and space requirements are huge dampeners. We are talking around a grand just for the Vive and a GPU to use it. That puts it firmly in the “let’s think about it first” category.

        • nasKo says:

          Since we’re in the Early Adopter stage, that’s the category it absolutely should be in. No new tech ever launched without a steep price.
          Cost and space requirement aren’t dampeners for those who already have it, so excitement for most of the owners I’ve talked to hasn’t gone down.
          Also, space isn’t as much of an issue as most people think. I’ve been at friends places and they all could easily make a 2×2 play area by moving a table or sofa, temporarily.

    • alw says:

      I think I’m in the John camp too. I look at all the technological advances we’ve had in the last decade or two and it seems like 99% of it is simply used to iterate a little on stuff we’ve already got. We’ve got massively powerful processors, graphics cards that can produce almost photorealistic scenes in real-time, and we’re still mostly just shooting stuff in the face with it.

      There are a lot of possibilities with VR, but I have doubts that, bar a few exceptions, it’ll be used for anything revolutionary. I think publishers are more likely to play safe and give us basically what we’ve already been buying.

      • MajorLag says:

        I too feel this way. Aside from the technology currently being priced in the “you’ve got to be kidding me” range, I just haven’t seen any good reason to care about VR yet, especially room-scale VR.

        Of course you hear a lot of hype, that’s what journalists, fanboys, and hypesters do. And early adopters have to believe in it to justify the expense.

        I was going to say I think it’ll get there eventually, but honestly I’m not sure it will. The technology will improve, the price will come down, but I’m having a hard time conceptualizing anything that will ever make the drawbacks over traditional displays worth it. Anything that does, I feel, will be much more like AR than VR.

        The big caveat there is if they ever get the whole “full dive” direct-mind-interface thing to work. Then the world as we know it will come to an end.

        • Xzi says:

          Aha! Here we have stumbled upon an interesting phenomenon, though, one specific to VR. People who have never experienced it justifying the fact that they don’t meet the requirements for it in one way or another, or simply don’t have the money. I’ve seen more irrational hatred of VR than any hardware product prior.

          Well I’m here to tell you gents, Vive delivers on everything the 80s vision of future tech would be. I cannot tell you exactly what it is like. Nobody can. But once you’ve tried one with proper adjustments and in a decent VR space, you’ll want to find the money for it. Just like CGI animated movies couldn’t work in the 80s/early 90s but work quite well in 2016, so too has the technology come all that way for VR. 77% of the time I wear my cynical prick hat, but in VR my inner child is alive, laughing and having more fun than the first time I played Morrowind.

          VR isn’t here to replace traditional gaming, it’s here to exist alongside it. And whether it appeals to you or not right now, there will be a point where you’ll see something that makes you want to buy in. It’s all just beginning.

          • monkeytommo says:

            I was going to post the exact same thing as you, but you worded it much better than I ever could, so let me tell you something.

            I bought a Vive, luckily I had a GTX 980 in my rig already, so I was half way there before ordering it. My wife was the big obstacle in all of this for me… She HATES videogames. She gets annoyed when I want to play videogames instead of watching telly with her, even when I try to explain that videogames are like TV and Movies where you control the action!!

            Anyway, long story short, I get the Vive, she’s pissed off with me, and then she tries it. I’ve never seen a smile so big. It took all of 3 minutes for her to get used to the Vive wands, starting her off slowly in Tilt Brush, then we moved on to Audio Shield, and that was that for the rest of the night… She wouldn’t even let me have a go.

            So yeah, this VR stuff is amazing. I’ve had mine since the 2nd week after launch and It’s just such a brilliant device. Top experiences so far are the Budget Cuts demo, Audio Shield, and Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (I hope they add motion controls to the last one).

          • MajorLag says:

            I’ve never driven and cannot afford a Lamborghini,but I can still understand why people want one. And there are plenty of things I can afford, like a home theater system or pool table, but just can’t see the value in. Vive and Occulus fall into that second category.

            The collective sum of all the accounts of VR I’ve read have come to this: It is pretty neat, but it has a lot of problems and there’s no killer app. To me, that says it isn’t going to take off any time soon. I’d be happy to be proved wrong, it’s success or failure will not have any significant impact on my life.

            Someone expresses an unfavorable opinion on the current state of VR and you attack them, they’re too poor, they’ve never tried it, they lack “vision”, typical defensive fanboy fair. It delivers on everything the 80s promised? Seriously? It’s an experience you can’t describe in words? Difficult to take seriously.

          • Punk0 says:

            You talk like you’ve thought this through, but have you? Are you truly saying that you can’t see how being able to turn your head and look around and environment with an actual feeling of depth can add to a gaming experience? Are you saying that, for you, the height of immersion is staring straight ahead at a flat rectangle with two dimensional images on it?

            The fact that you don’t have any stake in whether VR succeeds or fails doesn’t mean you don’t care. I don’t believe that you’d be happy to be proved wrong. I think there is a mindset that loves to predict the failure of things, and gets some sort of validation when they end up being right. 3DTV, which some have wrongly compared VR to, was all but killed before it even began by negative word of mouth. It would be just another feature built into all televisions by now, but it’s instead a niche market that could die at any moment. VR is doing better because it actually works, and people who try it are generally blown away. The exceptions being many in game journalism, shockingly enough. The jaded tone of some of these people isn’t just directed at VR. The way they talk about games in general makes me wonder if they even enjoy gaming that much anymore.

          • GHudston says:

            “I’ve never driven and cannot afford a Lamborghini,but I can still understand why people want one. And there are plenty of things I can afford, like a home theater system or pool table, but just can’t see the value in. Vive and Occulus fall into that second category.”

            The thing you’re missing is that you have no frame of reference for VR until you try it. You can estimate what it’d be like to drive a Lamborghini because you, presumably, have driven or ridden in a car. You’ve seen a TV screen, you’ve probably played a game or two on a pool table, but you haven’t experienced anything even remotely close to room scale VR until you actually put that headset on and see it for yourself. VR is so different to anything else you’ve ever tried and no words or videos can convey what it’s like.

            I just got my vive a couple of days ago and I’ve shown it to everyone I know, most of them were skeptics until the moment I put it on them and then they were totally blown away. It’s not just hype. Not even close.

      • yhancik says:

        There’s at least four of us ;) Devices like the Wiimote and Kinect were already supposed to change gaming as we know it, and in the end we’re still playing the same old games. We have incredibly faster CPUs and GPUs, more storage and bandwidth than 15 years ago, but we’re still mostly playing the same old games. We have bigger screens, more pixels and mhz, even screens you can glue to your face, but we’re still playing the same bloody games. Actually, looking at the VR games announcements from this year’s E3, it looks like we’re mostly stepping back in terms of gameplay.

        Cinema (and I hate comparing videogames to cinema, but.. cinema) manages to create amazing – even immersive – experiences on a stupid 2D screen. It’s in the content that there’s the most potential to explore, and if something did change the face of gaming in the recent years, it’s the indie scene.

        VR is a fantasy, and it’s perfectly understandable one can get a kick from approaching it. But even if it ends up being a commercial success, VR still won’t be this Messiah of Videogames some are expecting, pulling us out of this gaming prehistory into The Really Real Virtual Reality.

        • Runty McTall says:

          Just curious, have any of you 4 tried the Vive or Oculus consumer release? I have a Vive and I show everyone the whale bit of The Blu first and they’ve pretty much all just been stunned by it.

          It’s certainly expensive and the space requirements are a pain for the room scale stuff (that said, Elite with an X52 and Voice Attack is a real “I’m living in the future!” moment) but the tech is frickin impressive.

          • yhancik says:

            I have (only) tried a DK2, several times.

            I’d argue that impressive and meaningful are two different (but not exclusive) things. A rollercoaster is impressive, but it doesn’t move me (well, except in all directions at ludicrous speed until I get sick :p).

            I’m sure that the Vive’s room scale thing makes things more impressive, but what do you do with it? In a related field, I’ve seen too many *impressive* digital art installations using cutting edge technology for immersive and reactive experiences, that fell flat pretty quickly because the artist’s techno-fetishism took over content, meaning, personality. So I’m very wary of “impressive” technologies and the fantasy that they will somehow “fix” the content.

          • skittles says:

            Does it need to “move” someone though? Or be meaningful? Games are and will largely remain the same. The huge gains for VR I think will not be in gaming but in the fields of visualisation, medical, and simulation. People keep trying to keep VR oddly in a gaming box, but it means a lot more than that. Are games meaningful? No. They are entertainment that we enjoy. VR has the potential to make gaming more impressive, but that is it. I don’t know why people keep making out that it should be doing more than that.

          • yhancik says:

            We at least definitely agree on one point, it’s only going to make things more impressive ;) I might be wrong, of course, but anything beyond that feels to me like preposterous exaggeration.

            Are games meaningful? No. They are entertainment that we enjoy.

            …and I think that’s exactly why these-things-we-call-games stagnate, and even sometimes violently resist to change. I think games can be entertaining, but also meaningful, or even both. They can be all this in many different ways.

            I’m not against entertainment, but I’m a bit put off by the implicit obligation “games” have to be entertaining in very specific ways. This digital interactive medium can reach more people thanks to the impressive nature of VR, but it also can by opening up the kind of experiences it proposes, the themes it tackles, the stories it tells, the things it expects (or not) from its players. One is an expensive technological solution, the other is a creative one. And I just have more interest in the latter.

    • Shuck says:

      The problem is not that people who have bought into VR aren’t excited by it – the problem is that almost no one has bought into it. At least, not enough people have bought into it to actually support the development of games that are designed around VR. Oculus doing exclusives doesn’t help, but the sales numbers so far have been pitiful. Without compelling experiences, very few people were going to join the early adopters, leaving VR dead in the water without PSVR. Now some publishers are betting that PSVR will be big enough to support VR development, so they’re also targeting PC VR – but make no mistake, they wouldn’t have done VR games if PSVR didn’t exist. If PSVR fails to sell, or provides an underwhelming experience, that will very likely be the end of VR (yet again) for the next decade or two simply because it couldn’t get a large enough user base in a short enough time.

      • Fiatil says:

        Both of the headsets were heavily backordered until very recently. The Vive was until about two weeks ago, but you can now receive it within 3 days, and the Rift still has a delay. How does that constitute pitiful sales numbers? It does seem to fit a narrative pretty well at least.

        • Shuck says:

          The numbers are pitiful because they’re an insignificant fraction of the number needed to create a user base that can support actual game development. If the numbers were ten times higher, they’d still be bad from that perspective – no one can spend any real resources developing a PC VR game right now with the expectation of breaking even. Without compelling experiences, you’re not going to grow the user base enough to support the development of compelling experiences, etc.

      • Dave L. says:

        The sales numbers have actually been really good considering the requirements and niche that VR is. Vive has moved somewhere around 35,000 units since launch? And that’s for an $800 product that requires an ~$1000 product to use.

        Nobody actually involved with making Vive or the Rift was expecting them to sell like iPhones.

        • Fiatil says:

          This. If either company were actually banking on selling “console” numbers this generation then you may actually be right. It would also make Valve, HTC, and Oculus incredibly dumb, because they also realize less people can afford a $1000 gaming PC and a $600-800 headset than can afford a Playstation 4.

        • Shuck says:

          “The sales numbers have actually been really good considering
          Well, sure – “considering” – but that’s still not remotely good enough to support the development of games designed around VR. For that purpose, 35k is absolutely pitiful. The expectation, I suppose, was that the user base would slowly grow, propelled forward by sufficient hype. The problem is, outside of early adopters, who take a leap of faith that someday there will be something that justified the purchase of the headset, both buyers and developers will take the “wait and see” approach – buyers waiting for the “killer apps,” developers waiting for a significant number of users before they risk any real money developing those killer apps. So you risk ending up with another Kinect. Publishers are more willing to take the bet, because of the price-point, that PSVR will have the necessary mass adoption to support actual game development (with PC VR benefitting from that bet). We’ll see if that turns out to be the case. (I hope it does.)

          • Fiatil says:

            You’re ignoring the fact that both Oculus and Valve understand they are going to take a loss on gen 1, and are both actively funding VR-specific game development for indie game studios.

            They’re subsidizing the cost of the VR experience for their future profits, and spending lots of money to do so. Valve is giving multi hundred thousand dollar interest free loans to indie developers to develop VR games, and have said they are comfortable if the game fails. If the game fails, the indie developer is in absolutely no debt, and is allowed to move on with their life. If it succeeds, they pay back the loan and anything beyond that is your standard 70% steam revenue. There are a lot of complaints about Oculus and their exclusives, but if you agree to support their feature set and be an exclusive on their store, they pay for the entire game development without even having to pay the loan back.

            E-mail from Gaben with a bit more info:

            link to i.imgur.com

    • McBANE says:

      Library or not the Vive has some serious issues that absolutely need to get resolved- to the point that even after drilling holes in my wall to install the damn thing I’m going to return it.

      1. The install and price, obviously.
      2. Lens focus. As I understand it earlier versions had options to move the lenses back and forth but the retail version has only a width control, which makes it a major headache for anyone who needs a different fit.
      3. More sit-down games and a regular controller. A number of games require a room scale experience. You simply don’t have a very big library unless you have the room to install the sensors and a lot of people can’t do that. Renters, for instance.
      4.Weight- and this is really the killer for me after trying the Oculus and PSVR- the Vive is just too damn heavy. It’s so heavy that if you look at your feet the weight of the box stretches the elastic and pulls away from your face, causing the view to blur and boom- vomit town. This could be fixed with a nice, adjustable plastic attachment like the PSVR has, Moving circuitry out of the face box and putting it on top of your head, again, like PSVR has done, would also help. That needs to ship with the damn thing though, and I mean like, now, not later. If Vive is going to make it they ought to be sending people recall notices to get the things back in the shop and get them fitted with a better head straps before PSVR launches. Otherwise, there’s no way. Price, setup, titles, comfort-they’re fighting an uphill battle all the way. The Vive looks great on paper but after trying the others at E3 my Vive at home feels more like the Oculus DK1 than anything.

      Until they fix that th

  2. Bforceny says:

    PSVR and PC VR are not competing in my opinion. I have a GearVR, I’d like to get a Vive or Rift but don’t have the funds for both the device and the computer. I am actually excited to try and connect PSVR to my PC and figure out a way to make it work with my game library. I thinkI could be happy with that setup while saving to get a real grown up VR system…

  3. wodin says:

    I think the tech needs another 5 maybe even 10 years before it really WOWs us. At the moment it’s notsomething I’m interested in, not until then anyway.

    • Mokinokaro says:

      That’s pretty much how I feel about it too. It’ll also be time enough for the pricing to get reasonable for the mass market.

      Right now it’s strictly for enthusiasts due to the pricing. IF it can grow out of that phase it’ll really be something.

      I just fear it might be another kinect in the making.

    • Asurmen says:

      I think you overestimate the amount of time required.

      • Slazia says:

        Five years is probably reasonable. If I’m going to use VR, it has to be wireless. There’s no way I’m dealing with cables hanging off the back of my head. It has to be light. I expect 120Hz refresh at 4k resolution (considering the fact that my eyes are so close to the screen).

        I love flight sims, I have TrackIR for DCS. But I have absolutely no interest in using the current generation of VR headsets for it, even for free.

        • Hedgeclipper says:

          Is wireless 120Hz 4k even possible? I thought streaming HD over wireless was already running up against the limits.

    • Runty McTall says:

      Have you actually tried it? I have a Vice and I think all but one of the people I’ve shown it to has literally said “wow!” while using it (one friend was just “meh”).

      Don’t get me wrong, the price is steep at the moment but the tech is genuinely impressive and will iterate relatively rapidly – twice the res for half the price will come in only a few years (graphics cards will need to keep up!) and then bye bye the last of the screen door effect and, well, I can hardly wait.

      • Runty McTall says:

        Heh, I do have a vice but it’s spending too much money on my Vive :)

        Thanks autocorrect…

      • Fiatil says:

        My gamer friends have loved it, my technologically illiterate parents love it to the point where they ask me what new VR stuff I’ve tried during our phone calls, and I recently had my boss and 7 other coworkers over to my house for an afternoon of drinking and Viving.

        The headets and PC requirements right now are too high for “mass market” success. But, the experience as it exists right now is fantastic; the Rift and the Vive are both advanced enough to trick your brain into believing you are in another place, and that’s what matters. The new gen of GPUs is already making VR much more affordable, and the trend will continue as several multi-billion dollar companies are now heavily invested in the concept.

  4. Matt_W says:

    it needs to be something that parents can hurriedly configure for their kids on Christmas day, and it needs to be something that someone who doesn’t ever go into settings menus can use

    Hah! I’ve nearly chewed my arm off in frustration trying to get something as simple as multiplayer with chat audio with friends set up for my kids to play Minecraft with their cousins, which is nothing like straightforward. And dear god, the parental settings are an absolute nightmare of byzantium. The PS4 XMB itself is the worst user interface to be released for any device in the last five years: unintuitive and uncustomizable. (I spent several minutes yesterday trying to remember how to eject a damn disc from the system without using the unreadable front panel button.) Managing multiple user accounts on the same console is ridiculously complicated.

    Sony does not care how difficult this will be to use.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      They care how difficult it looks. As long as not too many people bring it back to the store, it’s all about getting the cash out of customers hands. And the bog poster with “BUY ME NOW” is the way they try for it…

  5. rommel102 says:

    Conversely Sony could also set VR back farther than Oculus or HTC could ever do. I paid very close attention to the PSVR stuff they showed off at E3 and all it seemed to be was short tech demo after short tech demo. Having marquee franchises on board will help with the hype but after playing the 1 hour of Arkham or the 30 minutes of Star Wars people will very quickly be saying “wait, that’s it?”

    Plus, the concerns around the standard PS4 being able to properly handle PSVR versus the Neo are real and troubling.

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      Sony claims that there will be no games exclusive to the Neo, VR or otherwise. Whether this will change over time as they inevitability phase out the older PS4 models remains to be seen.

      The Neo for the most part seems like it will get you higher frame rates, higher resolutions and better anti-alias settings.

      • rommel102 says:

        The implication is that the basic performance on the PS4 may provide an inferior experience that will provide a negative overall impression of VR.

    • Dave L. says:

      There’s a definite ‘poisoning the well’ fear with PSVR. Word out of E3 was that a lot of the PSVR demos were ignoring VR best practices, resulting in severe motion sickness on a lot of them.

      And it still has some latency problems. Despite its higher refresh rate, they have something like 45ms tracking latency, which is Not Good for VR.

  6. Red_Fox says:

    The tech is in its infancy. I’ll give it a few more years.

    • Scurra says:

      Yeah, I said that 25 years ago. It was impressive then, it’s impressive now, and it still has no purpose. It’s like the smartwatch revolution – an admittedly really cool solution in search of a problem.

      (And yes, I accept that it has some industrial uses – and I include things like healthcare in that. It’s just not a consumer technology and I remain to be convinced that it ever will be. But then again, I’m usually wrong about these things.)

  7. Carra says:

    Microsofts course with the X-Box seems to be a weird one. The only reason I’d buy one is for X-Box exclusive games. But if they’re going to release every game on PC too I see no reason to get one. I’ll get to play the game on a higher resolution, with better graphics and a lot cheaper.

    • GWOP says:

      … on GFWL 2.0.

      • Mokinokaro says:

        UWP isn’t GFWL 2.0 UWP actually isn’t a DRM scheme at all.

    • rommel102 says:

      If you are a PC gamer than a console isn’t for you.

      If not, merging some PC functionality with an XBox is a great thing.

  8. Ichi_1 says:

    Neo isn’t for 4k gaming. It is only for 4k streaming. They haven’t said anything about 4k gaming support because it just isn’t possible with the hardware.

    I’ve been saying for a while that it is console VR and mobile VR that will create mainstream acceptance of the tech.

    Don’t go forgetting Google Daydream which will launch before Xmas and with its huge audience potential because of the variety of Android devices it will support.

    Also, there are some seriously good games coming to PSVR at launch, Rigs being the standout as it will appeal to the crowds that love COD and Rocket League.

    • Premium User Badge

      AutonomyLost says:

      Ah, I was wading through the comments to find out if someone had mentioned this. So, I’ll just echo!

      Playstation 4K (such a ludicrously-misnomered product/codename) is absolutely not meant to be able to run anything such as games at a native 4K resolution in real-time. Like the poster above stated, it’s only streaming capabilities that will be available. The plans for the hardware upgrades in the guts of the console will still yield mediocre results when compared to anything a, let’s say, single 980-equipped PC can produce.

    • ooshp says:

      Aha, thank you! I was incredibly dubious that any revision of the existing PS4 hardware could possibly push 4k with any halfway decent graphics from this decade. You’ve saved me a valuable half a minute of Googling.

  9. SaintAn says:

    Wish PSVR was usable on the PC too. Like an Xbox controller. It would justify the price and be a day 1 buy for me, but if I have to rely on a corporation with a strong record of releasing things and not supporting them it makes me wary of spending $400 on a new gadget from them that has a good chance of being useless in a year or two. Plus a ton of PC games have mods to give them VR, so even if there are a bunch of bad games with VR support right now on PC I can always have a lot of good games with VR, and the PSVR doesn’t have that.

    Though I absolutely hate Facebook and Valve, they’re two of the worst corporations, so I really don’t want to buy pricey VR from them on principal.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Vandelay says:

    One thing missing here on the performance side is that Sony have said they will reject any VR games that do not hit 60fps. We can only presume that they are referring to the PS4 rather than the Neo here, but that is a pretty big statement considering the performance of most games on the system. I can only assume that the extra box helps with this, but Sony have said that that is purely for processing an output to the TV.

    I agree with the article though, the success of VR really depends on the PSVR. If it fails, it could set back the possibility of VR being a mainstream thing for a very long time. I don’t see this being an overnight thing, but if it is a success, we could well be seeing a big push in the tech much sooner.

  11. Moonracer says:

    I watched the Wii grow to be a big deal when it seemed overly simplistic and dumb to me. I think if the software is designed for the right audience it could take off.

    I think the more options for people to experience VR in general, the better.

  12. Creeping Death says:

    “the console’s infuriating propensity to install a massive firmware update every other time I turn it on notwithstanding. ”

    …Sounds like you dont turn it on much? I cant remember the last time I had to download a firmware update for my PS4. Certainly not one that was long enough to infuriate me.

    • Premium User Badge

      AutonomyLost says:

      You are definitely right.

      However, I entirely sympathize with Alec on this point. I so seldomly turn my PS4 on that it also seems to me that firmware updates are nearly part of the booting process for the machine. I laughed when I read his description, as my experience is the same.

  13. Assirra says:

    Considering that VR is already planned to be used in the medical sector for things like therapy and to help people with lazy eyes i think we are way past the “watching porn on smartphones”

    Even if it doesn’t take off in gaming from the start, VR will always be there in other sectors.

  14. thesisko says:

    Since when did mainstream adoption and console focus do good things for PC gaming?

  15. AlexStoic says:

    Here’s a quick summary of VR since launch:

    People who have used it: Wow, it’s amazing, even if it is expensive! I’m anxiously awaiting more content and hardware improvements.

    People who haven’t used it: II don’t really care about VR, and I’m sure I’d have the same opinion if I actually tried it. I’ll wait for the next iteration or two.

    Game bloggers: VR IS DOOMED/THE FUTURE OF GAMING (click here!)

  16. Kowie says:

    5 years for pcs sure but no way is it going to take 10 years.

    In 5 years cpus, gfxs cards and displays will surely be able to do double in VR what they can do right now, the 1070-80 is already showing signs of being promising then there’s DX12 and all that in the near future as well.

  17. Soapeh says:

    I was really tempted by the notion of PC VR until I realised that there is a compatibility gap between the two main providers, Oculus and HTC/Valve. Why on earth are HTC users locked out of the Oculus ecosystem when it offers arguably the same experience with the benefits of room-scale VR? On the other hand, why are some game only built for room-scale VR when essentially the same experience can be had from a seared position?

    Only when PC VR systems are allowed to perform on common ground will I bother to reconsider the technology. At least with PSVR it will “just work” with all the titles on the system.

  18. UncleLou says:

    I don’t trust Sony one bit with SonyVR, and I am saying this as PS2, 3, 4 and Vita owner.

    First of all, I expect that a PS4 Neo/4k whatever will be more or less mandatory sooner rather than later. Secondly, Sony doesn’t hesitate to drop support for their own hardware quicker than I drop a hot potato if it doesn’t make the numbers they expected. And thirdly, the console manufacturers just love to arbitrarily kill off peripheral support when a new generation comes out

    You might end up with a few tech demos this gen, a few better games that don’t work properly unless you upgrade to a PS4k, and an incompatible piece of outdated tech when the PS5 comes around and you need the Sony VR2.

    And obviously, don’t trust the list of announced games. They’ve already shut down the studio that was supposed to develop pretty much the flagship VR game, and Sony have a history of announcing games a couple of generations too early.

  19. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    Just to cover another price point for PC: OSVT’s HDK2 will be $400 and will have the same display res and refresh rate as the Vive and Rift, plus Rift-style camera based tracking, and an optional Leap Motion upgrade for full hand tracking. Of course, it’s yet to be seen how good/poor this will all be, as far as I know, but I think it’s worth keeping in mind. (I was not impressed by the standalone LM, for example, but it’s supposedly vastly improved via software updates since I last used it.) OSVR stuff is also upgradeable and generally more open than Oculus’s or HTC’s/Valve’s kit, which is nice for those of us who care about that sort of thing.

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      OSVR and HDK stand for “open source virtual reality” and “hacker development kit”, I meant to point out, which clearly places it outside of consumer territory for now. I keep forgetting that part. I’ve read it’s popular with academics because of its openness, and that opens some doors for decently-funded edutainment (as opposed to just VR psych experiments), but I can’t be bothered to find a reference for that right now.

  20. Morcane says:

    Don’t really get where the comments on VR setup difficulties come from. I have a Vive myself and was up and running in about 15 minutes. Hook up to PC, place light houses, calibrate, enjoy.
    You’ll need to do pretty much the same for PSVR.

    I do agree that the success of PSVR will tell if this has the potential to be a mass market, so there’s a lot riding on Sony’sr entry. Sony clearly understands the importance of good VR content which is very hopeful.

    Plus the fact that the PSVR seems to be so much more comfortable for people with glasses, due to the weight of the HMD being carried differently (the ‘halo’ on top). I wear glasses myself (not too much strength, so I can put them off when using the Vive), but with glasses it’s really uncomfortable.

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      I think the setup complaints are kinda valid for the masses, mostly since Valve is far from being Apple on the software grace front, but the hardware setup is essentially foolproof unless your graphics card (meeting the Vive min specs) doesn’t have enough ports, for some weird reason.

      My glasses have given me no pains with either the Vive or the consumer Rift, but the Vive tends to mash my large-ish nose after a while. The Rift avoids this by being better balanced and having an interior made of stretchy cloth with space behind it, rather than hard plastic with a bit of soft, floppy plastic near the nose. There’s clearly work to be done on those head harnesses, in both cases — I can’t look at things upside-down or even do flips while wearing them. >:(

    • Fiatil says:

      I could definitely see the Vive setup being difficult for “the masses”, but not “the PC Gaming masses”. If you’ve ever hooked up your PC to a keyboard, monitor, and electrical outlet, you know how to do 90% of the Vive setup. They’re just USB cables, HDMI cables, and AC adapters, with standard micro-USB chargers for the controllers.

      Mounting the lighthouses is scary in theory, but the wisdom of the internet is vital. Go buy the 5 kilo / 12 pound velcro-ey Command Strips. They’re double sided sticky pads that make it incredibly easy to stick the lighthouse assembly on your ceiling, with no tools required. You can get 5x as much as you need for about $15; just follow the intructions exactly and you are set.

      • Premium User Badge

        particlese says:

        I won’t argue on the hardware front, though if we’re getting specific here, I’d go with “the PC gaming masses who aren’t afraid to experiment or look things up on the Internet”. A bit more correct while still avoiding the “real PC gaming masses” sentiment. That’s the gist of the mini-rant I had before an accidental refresh ate the first version of my previous post, anyway. Lousy telephones…

        The software side I’d call occasionally annoying and not robust, but yeah, still something that type of PC gamer should be able to handle without enthusiastic complaint, though we should still ask for better things. (e.g. Easier, cleaner, more robust, but always without options being removed.)

  21. Premium User Badge

    melnificent says:

    Oculus Exclusives are setting the PC side back too. Cost is the highest factor, but not far behind are Oculus practices… Throwing money at devs until they quit Vive development of a product, the complete about faces that seem to happen every month (Buying Exclusive, cost, openness of platform, controls, etc), delays.

    People are seeing that vive offers everything in one go (plus 3 day delivery), but Oculus is buying games up as quick as they can to try and stop the vives momentum. Added to that is that Oculus quickly drops support for older headsets, whereas SteamVR supports every PC headset at present.

  22. Coops07 says:

    Everyone is just waiting for that ‘one’ game that will make VR ‘actually’ worth it. Once that happens, then the ball will really start rolling.

    Who knows, maybe Star Citizen..? One can always hope..

  23. ps2devil says:

    You are missing some pixel math. Yes Oculus and Vive have 1080×1200 pixel per eye (= 1,296.000), but they are using pentile displays which screw up the subpixels (Red = 648.000, Green = 1,296.000, Blue = 648.000, Total = 2,592.000). So PSVR makes 960×1080 pixels per eye (= 1,036.000) for Red, Green and Blue (Total = 3,110.400). So on the subpixel level the PSVR actually has the higher pixel density.

    How much of a factor this will turn out to be, needs to be seen but I feel it needs to be said because it always gets overlooked in the discussions.

    and also +1 for PSVR on PC … really hope the community is finding a hack to make that work. *holdingboththumbs*