[PlayStation VR2] is about propelling virtual reality gaming as a more mainstream option as well as enhancing how people interact with those games
Taylor: PlayStation’s seeming focus on power is not just about graphical fidelity or making things look as photorealistic as possible in virtual reality, though. It is about propelling virtual reality gaming as a more mainstream option as well as enhancing how people interact with those games.
When you think about the PSVR2’s unique features, it sets up the potential to push VR gaming to new heights. The PSVR2 will have eye-tracking, and its Sense Controllers will feature haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. These features have the potential to offer more immersive experiences that bring gamers closer to the games they play. Even just looking at the Sense Controllers’ design alone shows Sony learned a lot from its first VR hardware outing. We won’t be relying on Move controllers from the PS3 era any longer!
It has a chance to not only further immerse you in genres and worlds you know well, but also breathe new life into those that have languished in the traditional console and PC marketplaces, like on-rail shooters and sports sims.
Also, I’m afraid I have to disagree with calling PSVR a “modestly successful device.” While selling more than 5 million units does not sound like a lot, you have to keep in mind VR is still a niche category, particularly when the PSVR first released and amassed most of its sales. As the first console-exclusive headset, a strong case can be made that the PSVR helped project VR gaming more into the mainstream. Meta’s Quest has certainly reached more players, but when looking at the VR market as it was when the PSVR initially launched – filled as it was with unwieldy headsets like the HTC Vive – it was quite successful in getting more people to try VR gaming.
Kate: I think you’re right about VR being able to showcase compelling virtual worlds. Half-Life: Alyx has certainly shown the potential for VR to be really special in that regard. That said, the ongoing success of Job Simulator and Beat Saber has shown that a game doesn’t really need to be a VR powerhouse showcase to succeed. I would even argue those are the dominant VR experiences at the moment, and they are perfect Meta Quest 2.
You also mentioned that the PSVR sold more than 5 million units, which to me still seems pretty small in light of the PS4’s install base of more than 115 million units, its comparatively attractive price point, and the heavy marketing push it received at launch. I’m wondering if you think it can compare to the Quest 2’s sales, or if the PSVR 2 can match or exceed the PSVR’s original total given the more mature market and what is currently a much smaller install base for the PlayStation 5, which still appears to be hamstrung by supply chain issues. And if it doesn’t, is there some other way that the PSVR 2 can be a success?
Meta Quest 2 remains polarizing
Taylor: I believe the PSVR2’s success will not be measured against whether it outsells the Meta Quest 2. Because I don’t think it will, and I don’t think it needs to, either.
The measurement of its success will be how it takes advantage of the technology introduced with the PS5. Developers need to make games that will take full advantage of the new tech coming out of the PSVR2 and the Sense Controllers, which are a logical next step from the DualSense. They don’t necessarily need to convince Quest 2 owners to buy a PS5 and a PSVR2; they just need to convince the limited base that owns a PS5 to invest in the headset.
More first-party developed and published games will also help with its success. Horizon Call of the Mountain is a good start, and sequels to PSVR exclusives Astro Bot: Rescue Mission and Firewall: Zero Hour would go a long way as well. Even better is if it can secure some major VR games that never came to PSVR, like, say, Half-Life: Alyx, a game you can technically play on the Meta Quest 2.
And while the PSVR2 is still debuting at a disadvantage to the Quest 2 because it is tethered to a console, Meta is still a polarizing company right now. If you look at Meta in recent years and the controversies its subsidiary Facebook has encountered, there are many people distrustful of Meta as a company. Some are refusing to buy a Quest 2 because it still requires a Facebook account despite Meta’s promises to the contrary
Is the Facebook account thing grasping at straws? I suppose if you have a Facebook account, which I do. But let’s say I got banned or just wanted to delete my Facebook account, oh well I just burned through $299+ because I cannot access my Quest 2 or any of the games I own on it.
Kate: I think my concerns over its chances at success are less about the Meta Quest 2 itself and more about the direction of PSVR 2’s actual design. I’m convinced standalone headsets are the future for VR, and even if the PSVR 2 is more powerful and includes superior features like haptic controllers, it still feels like a bit of a regression in that respect. But you’re right, how much PlayStation decides to support the PSVR 2 will be a major piece of the puzzle. If it has a true killer app you can’t play anywhere else, it will find an audience, and being the one and only console-exclusive headset remains a strong selling point (no, I don’t count the Nintendo Switch VR headset, sorry).
We’ll know soon enough whether Sony’s first-party developers are willing to invest major resources into a platform that’s bound to have a comparatively small install base to the console, at least to start. Either way, if we do actually get a sequel to Astro Bot Rescue Mission, I’ll call the PSVR2 a win.
The PlayStation VR 2 does not yet have a release date. For more information, check out how the PSVR2 stacks up against the original PlayStation VR, Quest 2, and Valve Indexas well as our list of the best PSVR games.
Kat Bailey is a Senior News Editor at IGN as well as co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Have a tip? Send her a DM at @the_katbot.
Taylor is the Associate Tech Editor at IGN. You can follow her on Twitter @TayNixster.