PlayStation VR is an amazing piece of technology, maybe the most impressive in the company’s history. I’ve demoed mine to non-gaming friends and they’ve been floored. Heck, one poor pal probably suffered minor cardiac shock. (Hey, blame PlayStation VR Worlds’ Shark Attack demo, not me.)
Yet despite the strength of the core hardware, it’s hard to shake the feeling this amazing reality-altering headgear isn’t quite living up to its monumental potential. Clearly we’re not dealing with a PocketStation-shaped disaster (PS VR is only just coming back into stock after selling out almost everywhere), but neither has it captured the collective imagination quite like the sales-smashing console you connect it to.
Is it because Calvin Casual Gamer is sceptical about the tech? Are all those wires too much of a barrier for entry? Are folk just worried it will mess up their barnets? For me, the answer lies firmly in one factor: software.
The great consoles of PlayStation’s past only caught fire when they had a killer app to team up with. PS1 became a mid-’90s phenomenon when Resident Evil and Final Fantasy 7 debuted. PS2 turned into an unstoppable sales juggernaut with the release of Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec and GTA 3. And PS3 blossomed when the first Uncharted graced its disc tray.
PS VR is an incredible piece of kit, but it needs a killer app to truly thrive. As immersive as Batman Arkham VR is, and no matter how much of a wonderful trip Rez Infinite can be, they’re not system-sellers. And make no mistake: PS VR is its own system, not a high-end PS4 peripheral. Being able to play all of Resident Evil 7 in VR is a step forward, but it’s still not quite enough.
Perhaps Farpoint can be its killer app. It already looks like the most sophisticated lightgun game ever – count my face in, PS VR. Cheaper bundles and even non-gaming apps could help, too; imagine a 3D paint studio where you brush with PS Move controllers. For now, let’s just hope Sony can quickly produce a hardware-defining VR experience that will do its splendid headset justice.