With the Virtual Reality industry estimated to be worth over $5 billion in 2016, companies are beginning to bring their models to the mainstream. With Oculus sending its first shipments of the Rift device on the 28th, Sony’s announcement of a VR press event on Tuesday March 15th wasn’t that much of a bombshell a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, the event looks like it will set a few things straight about PlayStation VR, and given that it neatly coincides with the announcement of the device last year, we can expect some major developments culminating nicely in a price and release date.
Mass Market Device
With the Rift and Vive looking to run exclusively on PCs worth well into the $1000 range, PlayStation VR will work with any PS4 console. It seems then, that Sony are aiming their device at the mass market, rather than going down the specialised route of the more focused companies. Using the PS4 to run VR creates a base and set of codes that all developers and players are well accustomed to and might just be a winning method in terms of both sales and success.
Oculus Will Be Higher Quality
Senior VP of Sony Computer Entertainment, Masayasu Ito recently told Polygon that “if you talk about the high-end quality, yes, I would admit that Oculus may have better VR”. But what he’s emphasising here is that you pay for this. If you are one of the millions of consumers who own a PS4 and not a high-end, bank breaking super computer – the PlayStation VR will be your option. In other words the Oculus is better, but it won’t work for a lot of consumers.
The Glove Patent
We might receive some information regarding the controls on the device on Tuesday, if they use this to properly expo their product. We’ve heard a lot about the controls so far – from the primary use of the DualShock 4 controller, to the patents filed by Sony themselves. So hopefully we will get some confirmation on their glove patent (covered here for further reference). Though it might be a bit early for a glimpse at a prototype, the glove may be available further down the line after the device’s release and will hopefully be detailed at the press event.
Games and Launch Titles
If the release date is under our nose, it’s likely that Sony will use this opportunity to alert players to games that are either VR ready on the PS4, or are currently being developed as launch titles. The fact that the invite sent out to various correspondents highlights a demo session after the keynote is fairly standard, however the games played on the device during this demo may be more important than we first considered. We will hopefully then see how far developers have come in their developments of VR games such as Q.U.B.E and Eve: Valkyrie.
What’s In The Box
So the device should be running on a PS4, but Sony has been silent on whether or not consumers will receive the necessary gear to make the headset work straight out of the box. Other companies have shirked this, only providing the headset itself with the shipments, however if Sony is aiming to bring this device to the mass market, it’s easy to suggest it’ll be boxed as a ready product.
With competitors Oculus releasing on the 28th, Sony is going to want to get a move on, especially if their main selling points are their mass market appeal, and cheaper price point. They need to get their product out there before people start splashing the cash on the higher-tech models. There’s been a load of speculation flying around since as early as November 2015. VRSE, for example, a VR production company, listed the release date for PlayStation VR as April 2016, whereas GameStop CEO announced its arrival in the fall. With no official release date these are very little to go by – though with the big competitors leading the race, it’s difficult to see Sony waiting around.
With estimates and rumours invading the web, it seems high time Sony released a price point for their VR baby. It’s highly likely that we’ll receive this information on Tuesday, and other expectations lead us to believe that it will sit around the $350 mark – or around the same as a next-gen console. The device is mass market – so it will have to have a price tag that represents this. One of Ito’s main goals for the device was its affordability, so this bodes well.
Sony’s press event will take place Tuesday March 15th, at 2pm PT (5pm ET) until demos begin at 6pm PT.