Playstation VR Is Virtual Reality's Trojan Horse

Playstation VR Is Virtual Reality's Trojan Horse

PlayStation VR has the power to make people give a shit.

At $549, it's not just cheaper than it's bigger competitors -- it also comes with a huge market of potential consumers who've all already invested in Playstation. Remember, a $US649 ($860) Rift is really more like $2000 if you count the burly PC that's capable of running it. More people own a PlayStation 4 than own a gaming computer with enough juice to handle a Rift or Vive. The current number of worldwide PS4 sales is a little under 38 million. The number of people with a graphics card capable of VR? Smaller.

Not only will it be cheaper for those millions upon millions of Playstation owners, the set up is going to be a lot easier, too. Because Sony is working with a known piece of computer hardware -- Playstation 4 -- it can make a very simple plug-and-play solution. (Yes, presumably Sony could still screw this up, but I want to give them the benefit of the doubt here.) One of the biggest problems with the glut of VR systems available is that they're enthusiast only. You need a degree or a few years of gadget blogging to set up a Vive or a Rift dev kit. PS VR, on the other hand, is built for the same mainstream consumer the PS4 and previous accessories were built for. Say what you will about Playstation content and quality, but my Luddite best friend can still figure out how to plug it in to watch a Blu-ray.

The PS VR will also have a lot of games at launch. More than 230 game developers are working on projects for the platform, including developers you've actually heard of. Like Ubisoft and 2k Games. The Rift and Vive will have some games when they launch later this year. They will also probably have better graphics than the PS VR, which is unlikely to produce the same eye candy that a Nvidia Titan graphics card can churn out.

But affordability and accessibility are just as, if not more, important than capability and specs. At least when it comes to the general public.

I know what you're thinking, you furious VR nut. You're pointing to Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard. "Those are affordable," you shout at your phone. "They're accessible!"

Yes. VR systems that work via an Android smartphone are affordable and accessible. They're also virtually impossible to enjoy for longer than ten minutes. The lenses and how they focus on the phones leads to serious eye fatigue and the content available leads to serious boredom.

The PS VR, despite a whole mess of potential failings, sits in that sweet spot. It is the Trojan Horse. It's sneaking through the public's defences and unloading a swath of angry Greeks in skirts and my analogy has gotten away from me. But seriously. PS VR has the power to make people care.

Curmudgeonly suggestions courtesy of Mario Aguilar.

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    Whenever they mention a rift that state someone would need a $2000 gaming PC, don't most people already have a PC so really they just need to update their GPU?

      Not necessarily. They may need to also upgrade the power supply in order to run certain graphic cards, ie the nvidia GTX 970 is the recommended GPU for Oculus,

      Which is roughly $300+
      Majority of "basic" PC owner would most likely need to upgrade their CPU's and RAM ($500 - $700+ ) as they will be the next bottle necks after upgrading GPU.

      It's like putting a powerful engine in a toyota corolla only to have $30 ling long tyres - you will crash :P.

      Last edited 17/03/16 5:51 pm

      As @poweredbyme mentioned it's not just the GPU that needs upgrading for a lot of these systems. If the requirement was, say, a 750 Ti or a 950 then it would be a pretty safe bet that you could throw the card into any machine and it'd work due to the low power requirements and lack of a need for auxiliary power connectors.

      This is also ignoring that a lot "PC" gamers are laptop gamers, no desktop or upgrade path for GPU at all. Anecdotally, I know way more people that have PS4's than any desktop.

      Even ignoring the computer tho, a Rift is about $900 and up depending on shipping and import duties, with the Vive nearing the cost of entry level MacBooks. I have nothing at all against these high prices, I think premium solutions are what will keep pushing the market forward. But what is really needed is a budget solution that can really bring it to mainstream gamers.

      I think the oft quoted 2k mark is a bit of an overstatement. I have an $1100 PC (granted I assembled it myself, with GTX 750ti, Core i7-4790 and 8 GB of RAM. So theoretically if I had gotten the GTX 970 when I built it the PC still would have been under $1500 (AUD) and would meet the specs easily. Even if I upgraded to 16GB of RAM which would probably be a good idea - I'd still be well under $2000.
      EDIT: I already owned a case I wanted to use so didn't have to pay for that.

      Last edited 17/03/16 7:54 pm

        Being that you built it yourself, you would been able to get the parts you wanted for the right price. there are alot of people out there that dont know where or how to do that

        No one in the PC community is satisfied with building their PC to the minimum requirement of the application. I, myself am planning to have look at what's out there after the dust settles. I just think upgrading PC hardware at the present situation is a bad idea.

      Well for the most part it's true. They recommend a GTX 970 to run it. Have you ever gone by the recommended specs for a game? Minimum requirements for most games mean that, on the lowest settings you might see more than 24 fps. Recommended, from my experience, means you can put it up to medium or high settings for the same end result. If you really want high or above settings for a game for the Rift or Vive to run at 60 fps or more, then yes, you will need to throw some dollars at your PC. Ideally you will want a fully ready 4K PC. A lot of the VR games will be new, meaning they were developed and tested on new hardware. So if you're not running at least Skylake with 16+ Gb RAM and a 980ti or better, I wouldn't bother if you like high fidelity gaming.

      In fact, for those who can't make a simple upgrade, and need more of an overhaul, I would wait for the Pascal GPU's from nVidia. It's rumoured that the flagship card will have 32 Gb of GDDR5 memory!

      Last edited 18/03/16 9:35 am

        It'll be interesting to see weather people will push to do ultra settings without the required hardware and just tolerate motion sickness. The quality of PCVR is going to be directly correlated with how much disposable income you have and how much motion sickness you can tolerate.

        Just a small thing to correct here. HTC Vive (and I assume Oculus as well) require you to run the game at 90 FPS with systems recommended to handle higher fps constantly (to compensate for dropped frames)

        In raw numbers VR Gaming requires slightly less power than 4k Gaming, however according to nVidia the worst case scenario in stereo rendering is that it can use up almost twice the graphic resources .

          Nice pick up! So that means more grunt then. Getting intensive games to run at 90+ fps @ 1080 is hard enough these days, let alone with a VR setup....

    I'm just trying to work out how being a blogger makes you more technically minded.

    I really don't get the analogy, so if the PS VR is a Trojan horse, a gift to Troy was it? Troy being the consumer, why would Sony want to invade us?

      It is a gift to us in the world of VR (provided it's good) in the sense it's not ridiculously priced. And they want to invade our living rooms/man caves with it.

      The trojan horse analogy is more about getting a foot in the door than an invasion. With this, they can become a big player in the VR game, by undercutting the competition quite significantly.

      Sony has the opportunity here to do similar to what they did with blu ray, and take a leader loss at the start, to make a profit later. If their tech becomes the default reference, its what people mimic, and what developers build for.

      i think people aren't getting your joke

    I think you misread the comment "Remember, a $US649 ($860) Rift is really more like $2000 if you count the burly PC that’s capable of running it". The 2k statement is meant to include the PC, so if you were to buy a Rift with your current setup it would be just over 2k.

      However, I don't think you'll be getting very good settings in VR games if the $2,000 price includes the Rift....

    When I read about this all i can think of is Kinect, Ps camera, ps wands and loads of other technology that sounds great but never has anything decent developed for it.
    Id be waiting a year or so before buying any VR stuff....

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