There are some 230 companies working on PlayStation VR games, including the likes of From Software, 2K Games, Capcom and Konami.
Even EA is now on board with its Star Wars Battlefront VR experience. We speak to some of developers making games for the brand new tech to see if Sony’s headset is powerful enough to change the world.
This follows Sony announcing at GDC 2016 that its PlayStation VR headset will be coming out in October at a 349 price point in the UK.
Simon Harris,Executive Producer, Supermassive Games
The announcement of PlayStation VR at this price point is clearly a strong bid from Sony to establish an entry point for VR gaming experiences that are recognisable to established consumers.
In terms of delivering a proposition for their millions of existing PS4 consumers, it’s within reach for those interested in early adoption. With the reaction to the pre-order campaign, for all three devices, already showing that consumers are voracious about getting their hands on VR devices, it’s clear that Sony is keen to remain competitive against the other two PC-based devices. Having a defined consumer base that can all get a VR ready set-up without significant initial investment in upgrading hardware is an advantage.
As a developer with two announced titles for the launch, we can confirm that there is definitely enough power within the machine to create incredibly immersive and visually impressive VR experiences, which deliver to the HD fidelity that gamers expect.
Ben Tester, PR & Community Manager, Wales Interactive
The PSVR is a great addition to the quality VR market and whilst it may not be quite as powerful as the Rift or Vive, I do think it’s of a quality that will exceed expectations from consumers, especially when you compare the price difference to its competitors. The fact that it has the attachment to the PlayStation 4, which has sold around 36 million consoles worldwide, is hopefully a sure sign that virtual reality could finally become mass-market.
Sony has taken their first step to breaking out of the virtual barrier that is your TV. I now wonder how long it will be until the limitations of the PlayStation Camera will become the next barrier that needs breaking out of.
Frank Vitz, Creative Director, Cryengine
We have had Cryengine running with PlayStation VR for a while now and, with some optimisation and careful planning of assets, we’re reaching a solid 60 frames per second. That means effectively rendering 120 frames per second, one for each eye, at the usual high fidelity level that Cryengine can provide. Based on first-hand experience with our own projects, such as Robinson: The Journey, we know that the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR are very capable of running good VR.
Sony’s positioning, and the package of headset and console are very attractive. Many users own a PlayStation 4 already and only have to get the headset, which makes it much more accessible and it will definitely have an impact on the market.
Katie Goode, Triangular Pixels
I see PlayStation VR as the way to create a mainstream VR industry, and the device to allow VR to be socially accepted into the home.
It’s the only device to be targeting the living room, at a price which the public seems to find reasonable.
The announcement of the price and launch date was super exciting, and the feedback especially so – seeing those outside the industry praise the device, games, and price shows that there are more than just VR fans that’ll be getting the device.
The most exciting feature seems to be the social screen, allowing VR and screen players to join in and play together – no longer will players feel left out waiting someone play, nor will the player inside the device feel so alone. This feature is especially going to be key to making the device more acceptable.
Artur Janik, Technical Producer, Techland
When it comes to performance and concerns for the future of VR as a whole, a lot of this actually hinges on developers. Personally, we know that for a VR title to work on a specific piece of hardware, we have certain performance criteria in place, and so you have to work with that in mind and just push on. So many people want VR to be a success because it really adds something special, so as developers we need to help ensure VR doesn’t turn into another hardware fad like 3D TVs did to some extent.
At Techland, we’re still eagerly testing the waters on multiple fronts. We currently have a small team putting the finishing touches on a project with full VR integration, which we will be unveiling quite soon, and we’re continually letting multiple teams freely branch off and tinker around with ideas and VR hardware.
Sylvain Cornillon, CTO, Bossa Studios
The magic of VR is not only in hyperrealism as games like Job Simulator and Fantastic Contraption have proven. So the PS4 definitively has the power to run compelling VR experiences. The Sony VR demos like The London Heist also proved that graphical quality can be achieved in framerate with a bit more effort.
With a fixed hardware and an approval process, PSVR experiences are probably going to be the most consistent and reliable. It can be a great entry in the market, even though console development is still harder for small developers and there might be fewer risky experiments. In a way, PSVR stands in a market of its own at a remarkably low price point for the quality of the product that will be delivered.
Tim Woodley, SVP Global Brand and Marketing, 505 Games
Sony’s contribution to establishing VR as the next industry paradigm can’t be understated. It is always quicker for a new technology to be adopted if there are multiple manufacturers driving the market and Sony, as a trusted name in consumer electronics among the mainstream, have the production and marketing muscle to play a major role.
As Andrew House said at GDC, Sony has the wind of momentum in their sails with the PlayStation 4 approaching a global install base of 40m homes worldwide. Convincing these early adopters to fork out $400 to augment their existing PS4 experience is obviously an easier sell than the more expensive alternatives.
I trust Sony to take this responsibility seriously and ensure that PSVR is every bit as compelling and pleasurable an experience as the higher end solutions, even if the tech is towards the lower-end. I think if we learnt anything from the last paradigm – the Wii, Kinect and Move motion-control era – it is that quality of gaming experience isn’t necessarily predicated on the quality of the tech.
This could be another big moment for our industry, and the last thing we need is for the mass market – or at least the console early adopters – to have a less than optimal experience in this ‘greenshoots’ period and therefore reject this latest and most promising attempt at VR yet.
Jason Kingsley, CEO, Rebellion
We’ve already said that we want to make Battlezone for multiple VR platforms, but we’ve been lucky to work especially closely with Sony on PlayStation VR. We’ve got no issues with the power of the hardware at all – really the onus is on the developers to make comfortable and immersive VR games through their own tech and design.
In development terms you have to forget some conventional wisdom. With Battlezone, for example, we had hit a rock solid 120MHz reprojection right from the earliest builds. You can’t just optimise closer and closer to launch.
The GDC announcement was really exciting. I think we all felt that sub-400 was going to be the price point for early VR adopters on consoles, and knowing PlayStation will put its weight behind the platform this Christmas is really reassuring for independent studios like us.
Simon Gardner, CEO, Climax
PlayStation VR will be the most accessible and numerous tethered device, and its place in the living room will mean it will be accessible to a much wider audience even if just casually.
Provided the games and experiences are built for it and adhere to Sony’s strict guideline requirements, then there is no reason to worry about performance.
Darren Williams, VP Marketing, Harmonix Music Systems
I don’t think there’s ever been any question that VR will appeal to the enthusiast PC audience, and now with Sony making their move, it builds further confidence that VR can gain a foothold in the broader mainstream as well. We’re excited at the options both as VR developers and VR fans.