Sony Should Consider Saving PlayStation VR for the Next Generation

Sony needs to wait until the PlayStation 5 to release the PlayStation VR Headset. While Oculus VR, HTC, and some no-name, irrelevant, companies are putting out their headsets, Sony should just sit back and watch them duke it out. I understand that Sony doesn’t want to be beaten to the punch and they want to be able to make a splash in the market while Virtual Reality is popular. But I don’t believe that now is the time and Sony should realize that too.

There are and have been heavy implications that Sony is working on the development of a new, more powerful, PlayStation 4. Industry experts have all but confirmed that the code-named PS4 Neo, is real and will be officially revealed in the coming months; most likely at E3 this year. While I don’t have problem with the concept of the Neo as a platform, I have a big one when it comes to Virtual Reality; PlayStation VR specifically. This week an industry CTO spoke to Edge Magazine and it has fueled my suspicion regarding PlayStation VR performance on the standard PS4 compared to Neo:

“PSVR was going to be terrible on a [launch] PS4. It was going to be truly awful. Something a bit more powerful starts to bring VR into range. If you want to deal with crazy requirements for performance in VR, you absolutely have to do this.”

While this guy isn’t named and may have been exaggerating, it isn’t hard to believe in what he is saying. While almost everyone thought that PS4 would eventually get a 4K model, Neo takes that a step further and wasn’t speculated seriously, until PlayStation VR was officially named. If the original PlayStation 4 is not strong enough to handle it and they are planning to bring out the Neo to meet the demands of PlayStation VR, they are making a foolish mistake. Not only would they be risking the success of PlayStation VR, they would be angering their massive PlayStation 4 install base. This could damage the potential of Virtual Reality as a whole, which could set the entire industry back for years.

That last sentence probably sounds extreme, I know. But ever since the beginning of gaming, companies have been looking to innovate. While Virtual Reality has been around for awhile, the technology is vastly superior and much more affordable than ever before. Technology behind games has been getting more and more advanced, which has led towards immersive, life-like, experiences, thanks in part, to beautiful high definition graphics. Games have gotten so realistic that the graphics have more or less, hit a wall, and the next logical step is to begin to move to something that has a ton of potential and can be improved upon for future generations to come; Virtual Reality fits that requirement.  If Virtual Reality fails, it means that Virtual Reality will never be able to mature and meet its full potential. The game industry will be stuck trying to push the wall it hit but even if it moves, the lack of major advancements will lead to staleness, followed closely by mediocrity.

While I understand that Sony isn’t the only company making a VR headset and that Oculus VR could be successful. The Oculus Rift has major things going against it though. For one, they are way too expensive especially considering how strong the computer needs to be, in order to run it; the target audience is too narrow to be majorly successful. Second, Oculus VR is owned by Facebook, and neither one of them has made a considerable mark in the gaming industry. Sony has the biggest resume of all the companies in the VR race, they have the best ability to produce the easiest, most affordable, way for gamers to get into Virtual Reality. If Sony views Virtual Reality as the future of the industry, they would be wise to wait and release it the right way. What happens with the other companies is irrelevant for Sony; Sony has a bigger name, their success and failure will be heavily documented. They can hold on and make it packaged in with the PlayStation 5. That way everyone will be able to experience PlayStation VR out of the box with the next generation, and experience it as a necessity rather than an expensive novelty; all without dividing the PS4 install base. This will prevent original PS4 gamers souring on Virtual Reality due to a “truly awful” experience on their outdated platform, which could preserve the reputation of Virtual Reality until PS5.

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