PSVR 2 – Stuck in Neutral?
Is the PSVR 2 stuck in neutral just six months after its launch? In those six months, gamers greeted the VR headset with mixed reactions. Long suffering, and long waiting, PSVR 1 fans embraced it with open arms. Mainstream gamers treated it with the same indifference or downright disdain as any other VR headset.
VR is expensive, which skewed the expectations and reality of the cost of the PSVR 2 headset. An accessory that costs more than the base console? The PSVR 2 price appears outrageous because Meta sold the Quest 2 at a price cheaper than the PSVR 2. This is because Meta sold the Quest 2 below cost. Plus, the PSVR 2 needs a PS5 to function. Oh yeah, and it has a wire too.
Cost factor aside, the strengths of the PSVR 2 tech shone right away. The gorgeous OLED screens with their deep blacks and vibrant colors are unmatched by any other similarly priced VR headset. Foveated rendering allows for graphics on par with AAA flat games. The haptics of not only the controller but the headset haptics add a new level of immersion to VR gaming.
The feather in the PSVR 2 cap is the plug-and-play aspect of the experience. There is no fumbling with display settings, drivers, software utilities, or VR drivers that are de rigueur for PCVR gaming. Tech-wise, the PSVR 2 gives a strong VR experience on par with a high-end gaming PC. It has a few shortcomings such as a small sweet spot and mura – a gauze-like filter that is most noticeable in dark scenes.
Large Game Library
Games-wise, the platform launched with a stronger lineup of games than either its parent platform or the Xbox. Gran Turismo 7, Horizon Zero Dawn – Call of the Mountain, and Resident Evil 8 gave AAA First Party virtual experiences of flat games. The rest of the lineup came from indie and third-party developers. Many of the games were previously released on other platforms, such as Quest 2, but PSVR 2 gave the best versions.
So the initial excitement and rush of the launch came and went. More game releases came in the following months, including some prominent notables like Beat Saber, but the buzz for PSVR 2 stopped. Even worse, negative talk started. Is the PSVR 2 dead?, became a reoccurring point of discussion, social media, and articles.
Sony has not helped matters. There has been an overall lack of public engagement for this console generation from the company. Not only are PSVR 2 gamers frustrated, but so are the core console gamers. Beyond Spider-Man 2, Sony has not let the public know what their roadmap for the next few years looks like.
This lack of communication hurts the PSVR 2 because VR Gaming is in a rut. It has been this way since standalone VR headsets. While standalone VR headsets offer an untethered experience, they currently cannot offer AAA-level games. Their popularity stopped all AAA PCVR game development, as it was no longer financially feasible to make them.
The Need for AAA VR Games
The announcement of the PSVR 2 gave VR gamers hope that AAA Gaming would be revived. A hope bolstered by Gran Turismo 7 and Resident Evil 8 being available to play in VR at launch. It’s no secret that software drives sales and mainstream gamers prefer to buy and play AAA titles. Something the PSVR 2 seemed designed to deliver.
The occasional announcement of a big AAA title coming to PSVR 2 like Resident Evil 4 Remake is not enough to entice new players alone. Many gamers don’t like horror games even on flat screens, never mind in virtual reality. No, what the PSVR 2 needs to push sales is a steady stream of AAA-level games.
Imagine Sony tackling their back catalog of AAA games and adding a VR Mode to them. Games like Uncharted, The Last of Us, Killzone, and Resistance, to name a few, would be awesome in VR. And they don’t need to be redone in a first-person mode, playing in third-person, over-the-shoulder mode works fine in VR too.
To date, the PSVR 2 library is already large and has some grand games. But they are unknown to mainstream gamers. And this is the crux of where PSVR 2 sits today. Without AAA bangers, the peripheral remains a too expensive fancy. It won’t break VR Gaming out of the current canyon it exists in.
Hybrid Games = Next Level of VR Games
Until, and if, Sony implements hybrid gaming, the PSVR 2 will be a niche accessory. The potential of the unit is undeniable – take a gander at the recent upgrade to No Man’s Sky that finally took advantage of foveated rendering! The results are astonishing and gorgeous. This is the type of top-level VR gaming experience PSVR 2 gamers have been dreaming of and expecting.
Sony has never proclaimed they will support hybrid gaming – flat and VR modes – for their first-party AAA games. Yet, hope springs eternal in the PSVR 2 gamer’s heart. Why develop a VR headset capable of doing so and then not using it? And why create a VR headset with haptics and not use it for a Spider-Man game?
Spidey Sense, anyone?
Imagine the buzz Sony would create if they announced Spider-Man 2 shipping with an included VR Mode!
Thank you for keeping it locked on COGconnected.