2019 was a good year for VR headsets as many companies like Oculus, Valve and Vive came up with their new hardware.
However, until now we did not hear anything about any upgraded version of Sony’s PlayStation VR (PSVR).
At a conference in Toronto the Global Head of R&D for PlayStation, Dominic Mallinson shared what we might expect from their future releases. Although PSVR has sold-through more than 4.2 million units worldwide Mallinson is recognizing that PSVR “does need to evolve. It’s not quite there yet as a mass market proposition.” He added that they “do want it to be lighter weight, and easier to put on, less cables, less mess.”
Mallinson admitted that: “Wireless suffers from the issue of being expensive,” and “if you don’t care about cables, then it’s a lot cheaper than to have a wireless system. But at the same time, having wireless just makes you so much more free.”
However, Sony’s PSVR headset is showing signs of future success. There is a patent that appeared over the weekend detailing a headset communicating wirelessly from PS4 to an external hardware. The assumption is that this is the headset that will run on next PS5.
For the time being no VR headsets is using eye tracking and this is why Mallinson is considering it a very important aspect: “That’s the one that excites me the most… I think there will come a point in time in the not too distant future when you cannot launch a VR headset without eye tracking.” Eye tracking will reduce graphics load making games on console perform like a high-end PC through foveated rendering.
New controllers devices
Current PlayStation Move is using PS controllers rather than VR specific ones so that more users can afford purchasing them. Nevertheless, Mallinson acknowledges that change has to come to this department by saying: We do recognize that does need to be evolved, and in the future we will obviously replace it.”
There is a chance that pass-through mixed reality using VR headset cameras could be something Sony would consider. Mallinson is thinking of assimilating objects from real-world into VR headset, similarly to Oculus Quest is drawing boundaries while seeing the room through their camera. “If you are more interested in mixed reality for gaming applications, then I actually think video see through is more compelling and a lot less complicated.”
PS5 launch versus PSVR release
Mallinson prefers focusing on releasing PS5 for now and leave the debut of the new headset for later. They will be compatible so there is no need to launch them both in the same time: “There’s no reason for us to coincide it with a new console. From the point of view of the consumer, to be bombarded with many many things — oh, you have to buy this, you have to buy that — is a message that we don’t want to send. In some ways, it’s good to have a little breathing space between those things.”
No mobile VR standalone system
Although is regarding with respect Oculus Quest’s console-free VR system, Mallinson doesn’t think that Sony will go on the same path: “I do applaud them for doing something that is mobile, but it’s something you would more likely do in a private living room space. I don’t think you’d go out on the road and do this stuff. But I think having no wires, making it light and unencumbered, it is great. So I think going mobile for both reasons is important.”
Mallinson is being realistic about VR future and remarks that for the time being the VR platform doesn’t have a big audience, however is confident that in the future will become a better commercial title.