PSVR Expensive Fad or Worth the Price

first_imgStay on target Over the weekend, I got to spend some extensive time with Sony’s virtual reality peripheral, the PlayStation VR. I’ve tried virtual reality devices in the past (including PSVR) but was still on the fence about VR gaming in general. No longer limited to short press demos, I could finally sink my teeth into VR gaming and play it at home as most consumers would. I was now ready to answer the all-important question: is virtual reality gaming a revolution or is it just another fad fated to go the way of the Virtual Boy?The PSVR unit comes with an oversized instruction manual that explains how to hook the device up to the PlayStation 4 in easy to follow steps. Plugging in all of the necessary wires isn’t something that should give most folks out there any problems. However, calibrating one’s camera and then calibrating the VR headset can be a pain, especially if you’re disabled. Calibration issues aside, the PSVR is a breeze to install.I haven’t gotten to try the HTC Vive, but I have used the Oculus Rift on several occasions. While comfortable to wear, it is relatively heavy. In comparison, the PSVR headset is light. When you strap it onto your head, you barely notice it. There are buttons on the front visor and on the head strap that you can press to adjust the device to better fit your head. The headset itself does feel like a cheap plastic toy because of its weight. But it won’t strain your neck while playing, so this aspect is forgivable.Aside from the fact that you’re using a headset, playing games in VR isn’t wildly different than playing normally because you’re still using a controller. Some games did require the Move controllers, but most let you use a regular DualShock 4. Playing games like DriveClub, RIGS, or EVE Valkyrie is the same as playing anything else, only with the added field of view that comes from being able to move your head independently.The main thing you’ll notice when playing PSVR is how unimpressive the graphics look. If you’re used to gaming at 1080p or higher, the low resolution and lack of anti-aliasing will stand out. Games look this way because the machine has to run at 60-90 frames per second to lessen the effects of motion sickness in players. Also, the dual screens within the headset only output at 720p resolution. If you were looking for PSVR games to visually be on par with most current-gen games, then you’re going to be disappointed.There has been a lot of talk about the side effects of VR gaming. People have reported feeling light-headed, dizzy, or even nauseous. I experienced a side effect too: drowsiness. I was unable to play for more than an hour at a time before feeling extremely sleepy. This may sound like an odd side effect to have, but there is actually a good reason for it: eye strain.Anyone who reads books knows that it is common to feel drowsy during prolonged reading sessions. This is an effect of focusing one’s eyes on something for extended periods of time. There is also the fact that when reading or playing in VR, one doesn’t tend to blink as much. All things considered, I feel fortunate that the only adverse effect of virtual reality gaming was wanting to take a long nap.VR gaming isn’t a new thing but the technology has advanced to a point where it can be delivered in a credible and enjoyable way. No gaming experience out there will be as immersive as virtual reality gaming. Titles like RIGS and EVE Valkyrie let me live out fantasies of piloting a spaceship and a mech robot. I’ve done these things in other games before, but this time, I felt like I was actually inside the machine. Any qualms with the PSVR’s graphics are balanced out by the sense of immersion you’ll feel when playing any given game. Technologically speaking, this is no cheap gimmick.On the flip side, it is hard to say if the future of virtual reality gaming is assured. Look at the sales of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Despite their high price points ($600 and $800, respectively) they sold out rather quickly. After that? Sales have all but flatlined. At $400, the PSVR is selling very well. Not only is the price right, but one only needs a PS4, not an expensive PC, to run it. Despite all of this success, the PSVR could still flounder after the holidays are over.The biggest issue facing the PSVR is a shortage of compelling games. Right now, there is a distinct lack of any big titles for the peripheral. Aside from RIGS and a handful of others, most PSVR games are glorified tech demos. They may be very fun tech demos, but they don’t provide more than a few hours of amusement at most. We know that Robinson: The Journey and Resident Evil 7 are on the horizon, but what happens after that? The PSVR needs complete gaming experiences to thrive beyond 2017.Something that few are talking about is how long the PSVR will be in production. We have to assume the current iteration of the device will get a more powerful replacement in the next couple of years. The graphical limitations of the peripheral are evident, and an upgrade should help give it better resolution and fidelity. If PSVR is successful, what is to stop Sony from releasing a PSVR Pro when the inevitable PlayStation 5 is released? Some may decide to skip the current PSVR and wait for its successor. This machine will no doubt have a strong library of games from developers who have a solid grasp of what does and doesn’t work for VR gaming.PSVR is certainly not a waste of money for those who want to try out genuine virtual reality gaming at a decent price. Despite its subpar graphics and lack of substantive games, it is still a fun and unique experience. However, everyone else might be better off waiting until after Summer 2017 to see if the device is still being supported and if more robust gaming experiences are available. It is still too early to say what the fate of the PSVR and virtual reality gaming is, but we should have a clearer understanding of the situation by the middle of next year. Sony Patents New PSVR Motion ControllerHands-On: Firewall: Zero Hour is the Best VR Game I’ve Ever Played last_img read more