Spending a huge among on the very best or a bit less on something that may be good enough – that appears to be the choice that will face VR buyers this year.
Sony has in an extensive interview with Polygon said that the Oculus Rift (and presumably HTC Vive) will offer a higher quality VR experience than PlayStation VR. The thing to remember, of course, is that is because they will cost significantly more.
"If you just talk about the high-end quality, yes, I would admit that Oculus may have better VR," PlayStation executive vice president Masayasu Ito said. "However, it requires a very expensive and very fast PC.
“The biggest advantage for Sony is our headset works with PS4. It’s more for everyday use, so it has to be easy to use and it has to be affordable. This is not for the person who uses a high-end PC. It’s for the mass market."
Ito added that affordability was ordered as a priority from the very top of Sony, along with the need for the headset to be easy to get on and off.
Compared to Oculus and Vive, PlayStation VR offers a lower screen resolution and smaller field of view (although it also has a higher refresh rate – 120Hz). However, it does not require a £800+ PC to operate. And while we don’t yet know how much PlayStation VR will cost, even it does come in at close to Oculus Rift’s £500 or the HTC Vive £689 (and it looks like it won’t), the fact that it only needs a £300 PS4 to work will give it a financial advantage.
Elsewhere in the interview it is also revealed that at one stage the possibility of using a Vita as the VR headset’s screen was raised. This is the design used by the Samsung Gear VR, which uses a Galaxy smartphone for its screen. However, with a resolution of 960x540 the Vita was simply not beefy enough.
Sony Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida also explained that while Sony doesn’t have any triple-A VR projects on the way right now, this is something that will “naturally” happen in the fullness of time.
"At this point, VR is about creating new experiences, and we don’t need as much content — asset creation. That’s where it takes the largest number of resources,” he said.
"It’s just the relative progression of any new media. When the content side starts investing, you usually start small. And with VR, small games can have a very significant impact, and that’s more preferable. I’ve been saying that [to developers]: ‘Don’t start to write big design documents. If you do that while you’re working on something long-term, the whole industry will learn a lot and you’ll discover half of what you set out to do will become obsolete. So focus on finding great experiences, and packaging it to deliver, and keep doing that.’"