Release Date: 13th October
VR in gaming is not a new thing but Sony are definitely market leaders when it comes to bringing this technology to the console market. Much has been made about PS VR over the past few months and much of the feedback has been nothing but positive. It is very easy to highlight that the hardware is not as powerful as the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift but PS VR does a great job of bringing this technology to the living rooms of the masses at a slightly more affordable price. It is surprising then that there is not more marketing around Playstation’s first venture into VR, especially considering there was a heck of a lot more marketing happening after the announcement. With many places overwhelmed with pre-order, it appears that Sony haven’t needed to market PS VR as it appears to be selling itself.
The Big Releases
As with any new hardware releases in the games industry, its success will be determined by what games are launching to compel customers to buy it, especially when the hardware is an entirely new experience. The big games that are supporting the release of PS VR are:
- Batman: Arkham VR
- Playstation VR Worlds
- Tumble VR
- Playstation VR
- Driveclub VR
- Until Dawn: Rush Of Blood
- EVE: Valkyrie
The list of games is intriguing but none of the games in the launch titles scream out to me ‘Spend £350 on a VR headset!’. However, with some exciting titles coming up I will be keeping an eye out on the first reviews for this technology to decide whether this becomes a new console aspiration. These initial games may not be enough for me to buy a headset just yet but feedback so far for some of these titles has been fantastic. You can dress up as Batman or shoot people in space. If you have pre-order PS VR then you can be sure that you will be able to have great fun with these first titles on launch day.
The Novelty Effect
With every new idea that is incorporated into gaming there has always been a novelty factor that ultimately leads to the death of that technology in the market. Look at the Wii U, Playstation Move, Kinect for Xbox. They are all examples of technology that has not made the grade. Will PS VR follow this pattern? It is honestly to early to say. The majority of the sales for PS VR is currently made up of pre-orders which cannot be counted as a final sale until the hardware has been shipped!
Of all the people who will take a headset home, will they spend any more time on Batman: Arkham VR for example than any other popular game release before the end of the year? My guess is that they won’t but I don’t think that will be the end of VR. The games released for this technology will only improve and as they do there is potential for VR to take gaming to another level. Maybe Playstation have jumped the gun, or have they got a headstart. Time will tell.
PS VR or PS4 Pro
For the few people who can afford a PS VR headset there is also the dilemma of whether to spend that money to go head first (quite literally) into VR or to use that money to get the new PS4 Pro console. Despite my reservations about both, it would seem a far more worthwhile investment to go for the PS4 Pro over the PS VR headset, providing Sony support their 4K gaming machine with a sleuth of top quality 4K games.
Judging by the marketing spend so far, it would appear the focus for Sony is on its new consoles rather than its VR technology. It may be worth considering waiting to buy the PS VR to assess whether Sony will truly support their VR functionality or whether they invest their interest into the 4K gaming side of their business. It would be disappointing to buy a VR headset to only see more indie developers taking advantage of the technology. As much as I like indie games, it would be amazing to see Call of Duty VR support every year and improve with each iteration. Only time will tell if VR can hold its own for long enough to make it an attractive proposition for game developers on a yearly basis.
PS VR is exciting and a bug part of me would like to buy a headset to try the experience. Unfortunately, £350 is too much money for an ‘experience’ and I am still unsure how dedicated Sony are to this technology. I believe the early adopters will enjoy their first VR experiences on Playstation 4 but it may take some time for the games to catch up with the technology. I may reconsider my stance when Resident Evil and Star Wars release for PS VR later this year but for the moment I’m sitting comfortably on the fence!