Playstation VR Review – Live the Game
Live the Game
Virtual reality devices have been under development for decades. However, only lately has the technology advanced to the point that it has become afffordable for consumers. The current prices are still geared towards gamers, and high-end customized users, and this is where the Playstation VR comes in.
The Playstation VR is the first VR gear developed specifically for a game console. Prior VR devices like the Occulus Rift and the HTC Vive were developed for use with the PC. Sony brings a lot of things to the table with the PS VR. For one, it has first-party developers, as well as a large base of third-party developers. For another, Sony is a bigger company with a long history of innovation in electronic devices. The entrance of Sony is a welcome development in the VR market, giving it a push and the gravitas it sorely lacks.
The Playstation VR has long been in development, and the introduction to the market brings with it a lower price of acquisition, as well as an ecosystem. In any new technology, the talk always goes back to the ecosystem.
With a large and ready ecosystem in place, there is a bigger chance of continuous development. This is seen in the camera market, specifically when speaking of Canon and Nikon DSLRs, as well as in micro four third mirrorless camera systems. An ecosystem creates a need for compatible supporting devices and accessories. It also ensures that the initial investment can be used with other devices. This being the case, there is a higher resale value for devices with an ecosystem, compared to those without.
The Playstation 4 is the first VR system which connects to a console. For Playstation 4 owners, this means that they can scale up without any need to buy a new and more powerful PC. For another, this gives users another reason to buy the Playstation 4 instead of other gaming consoles. For another, there are already a lot of developers for the Playstation 4, including Sony which has its own stable of developers. Sony promises hundreds of titles supporting the Playstation VR by the end of the year.
• Uses the Playstation 4 console
• Cheaper than Occulus Rift and HTC Vive
• Easier to wear, setup and remove, compared to Occulus Rift and HTC Vive
• Comfortable to wear
• Sharp white on black onscreen text
• Requires Playstation Camera and Playstation Move Controllers
• Games are forced to use less polygons to maintain seamless VR graphics
Playstation VR Specification
The Playstation VR plugs into the Playstation 4, and it is expected that Sony will make succeeding Playstations compatible with it as well. In its current state, the Playstation VR headset requires the Playstation 4 console, Playstation Camera and Playstation Move Controllers.
The Playstation Camera is used to read the motions of the VR headset. The VR can be used while seated or standing, and it only uses a small footprint where the user can mode, unlike the HTC Vive which is designed for a room-sized VR experience. On the Playstation VR, the unit will send a warning when the user moves out of range. Due to the limited range that a single camera provides, the warning will go off quite often.
There are pros and cons between standing up and sitting down while playing on the Playstation VR. In any VR system, there is a greater chance of nausea when playing standing up. For another, you need to vacate enough space to move around. However, there are games which are better played standing up.
Sony had to compromise on the video due to the less powerful console engine. VR needs to be seamless otherwise the user would feel more nauseated from playing. To maintain the quality of the experience, Sony scales down on the number of polygons rendered, to make sure that the 3D rendering is faster.
Besides the cables, there is also the option to use a headset. Playstation VR games can make use of wired headphones for 3D sound. When using wireless headsets, you would only hear stereo sound.
One inconvenience VR users note is that the headsets are hard to wear, as well as being uncomfortable. Although the Playstation VR is heavier than the Occulus Rift and the HTC Vive, it is still more comfortable than. Sony balanced the weight by putting some of the internal electronics inside the head strap. In comparison, the Rift and Vive placed all their electronics in the front head unit. The materials used for the Playstation VR is also more comfortable. You can also easily wipe the sweat off of the head strap. Another big difference between the PS VR and others, is the use of buttons to adjust, and remove the head set. This also makes the PS VR more comfortable as it fits the head better. This is a big advantage for players who use the PS VR for long stretches of time.
With most of the system in place, and readily available, Sony can sell at a cheaper price point, compared to existing VR systems. In addition, the Playstation is cheaper than gaming PCs needed by the Occulus Rift and HTC Vive.
The way that Playstation VR is being marketed as part of the Sony Playstation gaming experience, it is not too far off to expect multiplayer games soon. This is one marketing approach which will work well with the Playstation. Other distinct advantages going for Sony is that the developers already exist. The rest of the hardware has been in place well before the Playstation VR was introduced.
All in all, Sony set a high bar for both VR sets, as well as laying down a challenge for console games. It brings its developers to the VR playground which has been a big hurdle for VR hardware developers. Approaching user adoption from multiple viewpoints, it comes close to a simplified solution. It has a ready market with Playstation 4 owners, it has software developers, and it is a cheap solution.
In terms of innovation, the Playstation 4 is not too far off of the current technology. Sony has introduced a lot of technology innovations where they were the only ones supporting the product. In those attempts, they were successful because the rest of the industry tried to follow suit. Their failures were due to lack of support and licensing. In the Playstation VR, Sony can go alone as they depend on an ecosystem built around the Playstation 4.