Will Playstation VR 2 save high-end VR gaming?
The Playstation VR 2 from Sony is like a new start for VR gaming. But how exactly?
Meta Quest 2 dominates the VR industry. In 2021, Meta's VR headset accounted for about 80 percent of hardware sales, and on the leading PC VR platform SteamVR, nearly one in two devices in use is a Meta Quest 2.
The VR market desperately needs more diversity and competition. Because Valve has left the PC VR niche to itself for the time being and Playstation VR has reached the end of its life cycle, hopes now rest on its successor.
With Meta Quest 2's quasi-monopoly, the mobile device has become the VR target platform for most studios. As a result, the majority of new VR games are on the graphical level of the PS2 era.
More markets, more opportunities
Graphics and performance aren't everything. Ease of use and full freedom of movement are more crucial to the long-term success of virtual reality.
But with Playstation VR 2, the pendulum could swing more strongly in the other direction again and remind us what virtual reality is actually capable of. Those who are constantly stuck in Quest 2 will forget that.
Playstation VR 2 will also benefit the PC VR market, in more ways than one. PC VR is another potential market for studios developing VR games for Sony's next VR headset.
Steam has between two and three million users, which could make a difference for studios. That means many high-quality PSVR 2 titles could also be released for PC, breathing new life into the platform.
Dual-track development "in" again
Another positive effect of Playstation VR 2 on PC VR and VR gaming in general is that studios will once again more often develop two versions of VR games: one for high-end VR (PSVR 2, PC VR) and one for mobile virtual reality (Quest 2). Studios starting a new VR project will have Sony's VR platform in mind during development, even if they are primarily targeting Quest 2.
To take one example: The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners is one of the best and most successful VR games and is getting a full-fledged sequel this year. It's only been announced for Quest 2 so far, but I'm sure a version for Playstation VR 2 and PC VR is in development. Anything else would be a shame, as the original was already a real eye-catcher.
PSVR 2: A new chapter for VR gaming
For high-end VR to grow eventually, Playstation VR 2 needs to be a success that makes it worthwhile to develop for the platform. That remains to be seen.
Sony's new VR headset is likely to have a harder time than its predecessor for several reasons: First, the PS5's install base will be much smaller than it was with the PS4, and second, Playstation VR 2 will likely be more expensive than the original because it is offering more high-end technology.
In any case, the studios should be excited about the new possibilities. VR will probably be raised to a new level with PS5 and foveated rendering. For developers, it must be a relief and a joy to no longer be subjected to the strict optimization constraints of Quest 2. They can finally flex their muscles again.