The PlayStation VR price won’t be running into the unaffordable range, says Sony CEO Kaz Hirai, but the peripheral could use “a lot of improvement.” The affordability could be the biggest reason why Sony’s virtual reality headset has become their equivalent to the NES Classic Edition console.
This means that the item sells out almost the instant it hits retail shelves. It also means that a lot of consumers believe the peripheral could be more than just a gimmick to sell first-person games. Of course, the sales were incredible over the Holiday season, so it could have been that many well-meaning relatives looking to sate the appetites of the gamers in their family.
We will know in the next few months if Sony’s VR headset really has that much of a demand attached to it, or if the gaming pundits were right. Technically, there haven’t been a lot of must-buy titles made for the peripheral, with stand-outs being the likes of Batman: Arkham VR. The game was more of a simulator than it was a full video game, but the reviews have been kind enough to call it the virtual reality game of the year.
Kaz Hirai has stated, according to the Daily Star (no, not the tabloid), that the peripheral was never intended to make a big splash in home gaming. Of course, Midway had never intended Mortal Kombat to be the massive success it is today either. He claims that the best way to decide for yourself is to visit stores or a friend’s home and try it in person. Virtual reality is not something which can be fully experienced through a flat or curved screen sitting across from you.
While the PlayStation VR price hasn’t been enough to deter a boom in the market, Hirai admits there are still things which could be done better. He just wants to keep it affordable.
“I would say that generally speaking there’s probably a lot of improvement where it makes sense. PlayStation is a business [which] is known to iterate and to evolve hardware products. [Improvements] have to be balanced with cost considerations as well, because it is a consumer product for gamers so we don’t want to say it’s lighter, whiter, or whatever, but it’s going to cost triple. That’s not going to happen.”
With competition like the HTC Valve and the Oculus Rift, attempting to compete on a technological level severely limits what Sony can do to improve the PS VR headset. It probably won’t deliver an 8K resolution display or wireless connection, because the price would likely triple in so doing.
For consumers who want a 4K resolution experience, they might have to jump the proverbial Sony ship for Project Scorpio later this year. The PS4 Pro only upscales or uses HDR to improve visuals, but it doesn’t deliver full 4K resolution. Of course, if you demand a larger screen, you will probably want the higher resolution. If the screen is literally inches from your eyes, it isn’t really necessary to turn up the resolution.
Higher resolution visuals often cause stuttering and lag if the core hardware is being pushed to its limits. For examples of this, see Mad Max or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition. They look fantastic, but it puts a hefty demand on the hardware and sometimes makes the game unplayable.
Hirai also stated that upgrades to PlayStation VR may necessitate better hardware, which is where cost considerations come into play. It may require Sony deciding to upgrade the PS4 beyond its current Pro standard to compete with Project Scorpio.
The future is uncertain, especially for mostly untapped technology, and the PlayStation VR headset is no exception. The real challenge is making improvements without driving the price up too high.
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