Once again we stand before a new technological landmark in the video game market with the newly released ”Playstation Virtual Reality” (PSVR), a gaming device that lets you enter into the game. The interest and hype for the new unit has been big among consumers around the world. Although it is not the first device with this technology, it is seen as the most affordable one for common people. New devices from the bigger game companies are often met with much initial interest and good sales. After that start though, it can begin to be seen as gimmicky and left alone, collecting dust in the back of a wardrobe. The question amongst many is if VR is here to stay, or if its only temporarily visiting?
The video game industry has always been keen on developing new technologies and ways for people to interact and play video games. Since the start with games like ”Pong” and ”Asteroids” – consisting of only a few pixels and simple game mechanics – the industry has gone from 2D pixelated games to 3D modeled games whit more realistic graphics for each new generation. Over the years different companies have tried new kinds of technologies in order to stand out in the competitive market. Virtual reality was first tried by Nintendo with their ”Virtual boy” in 1995 which was meant to be a portable device in which you should put your head into the goggles-like unit and see two screens that showed the games. They were all depicted in red pixels with a pitch black background, and thanks to the technology the games seemed to stand out from the screen, creating the illusion of being in the game. When you first tried it, you had to admit that it was pretty cool, but after a while the downsides started to show, consisting of headache and noxiousness, as well as itching eyes and gritty graphics. Needless to say it was a major flop with few games and units released and sold before the console was canceled. The VR technology wasn’t good enough at the time and consumers weren’t interested.
Now we stand before a second try with virtual technology, but from other companies. The one that has been most talked about is the one made by Sony – PSVR which just recently started to be sold in retail store around the world. The device is like a helmet that you put on that have a screen in front of you that – like the virtual boy – shuts out the surroundings and makes it possible for you to feel like you are inside the game. Compared to the two colored 2D games for virtual boy, the games for PSVR can be rendered in whatever color scheme that the developer want it to be and with 3D modeling, creating a smoother and deeper experience, not to mention a less noxious one. To deepen the experience you can use the playstation move controls rather than the normal ones. The move controls can make the game read how you move your arms and thusly make you able to see that movement within the game, which helps to make the experience of being in the game even more real. The technology has been improved over the years and will without a doubt continue to do so in the future.
The PSVR is as mentioned not the only VR unit at the market though. Another one is the HTC Vive which is the most advanced one – and therefore also a far more expensive one – that can give a better graphical capability compared to PSVR. Oculust rift is the third major unit at the market that fits in between HTC Vive and PSVR both technologically and costly. For the everyday consumer, the PSVR will become the more interesting one with a price at around 4.700kr rather than HTC Vive witch will be priced around almost 10.000kr and Ocolust rift at around 6.500kr. While the PSVR only works for the PS4, the other two alternative works with computers, and will need a quite powerful one in order to render the games in good quality, but can also offer a better experience than the PSVR does. Although, in order for the PSVR to work you will need a PS Camera, and for the ”full” experience also some move-controllers (if you don’t already have these), which brings the price to around 5.700kr. If you also – maybe to begin with – don’t have a PS4 it will probably end at around a total of 8.500kr. The PSVR is considered as the budget model of VR, but as you can see, the price is still quit hefty for the everyday person. This has still not stopped it to be sought after by consumers. In the US and UK all of the pre-ordered units were quickly swiped from stores, so fast in fact that the initial first wave were sold out and many people will now have to wait for the next waive to come. It should be noticed that the number of units in the first waive hasn’t been announced, which makes it hard to tell how big the interest truly are, but from a PR standpoint it gives much coverage and good publicity for Sony. What’s good for the PSVR is the fact that the PS4 is this generations most sold gaming console with over 40 million units sold, and with a new model that soon will be released, it is expected to continue to increase in sale and broadening the user base and possible buyers of the PSVR.
It is in many ways interesting to follow and see how the consumers will react to the PSVR as it is seen as the most affordable unit for this new technology. Will the initial hype and consumption of the new technology continue for a while and then just as quickly fall into obscurity, or is it truly here to stay? As with most new technology, there is a initial interest amongst people, but the important question is how big it will be after a few month when most have been acquainted to it. Will units and games keep on selling, or will it decrease and fade away? The most important thing for keeping the interest up is in the end the games that are released. Without fun and good games, the interest will fade quickly, which often has been seen with other devices in the gaming market (yes, I’m looking at you Kinect). So far, most of the games for the PSVR have been met with mixed results, often viewed as mostly gimmicky and fun because of the initial first experience with the technology, which usually is a bad first sign. I’m sure the sales will be good now in the beginning, and it will probably be on top of many christmas lists which will continue to boost the sales, but after that, there must come good games to keep up the sales. If it doesn’t come any games in the near future that truly shows the greatness off this technology, it will most likely fall into the shadows of a fun but fleeting memory.