With PSVR 2, Sony ignores the metaverse - and that's a shame
Something is sorely missing from the Playstation VR 2 launch lineup: the Metaverse building blocks that made Meta Quest 2 a success.
Looking at the list of VR games announced so far, something stands out: Most are single-player titles.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule: I'm thinking of Demeo and Walkabout Mini Golf, which offer small and intimate platforms for virtual encounters, so-called tinyverses. Or the VR MMORPG Zenith: The Last City.
But the big social VR apps that are commonly associated with the VR Metaverse and are among the top ten apps for Meta Quest 2, like Gorilla Tag, Rec Room, and VRChat, are sadly missing from the Playstation VR 2 lineup.
This is surprising and raises the question of why Sony didn't put more effort into social VR at launch.
Social VR is popular on Meta Quest
On Meta Quest, social experiences and multiplayer games now account for more than half of usage time, suggesting that virtual reality is readily and frequently used as a social technology. Apps that allow users to meet and express themselves virtually are correspondingly popular.
Speaking of expression: Avatars and a virtual home that you can customize and invite friends to visit are also missing from Playstation VR 2, and a new version of Playstation Home specifically for virtual reality isn't on the horizon.
World building is another frequently mentioned aspect of the Metaverse. Roblox, Rec Room, and VRChat would not be what they are without the ability to create rooms and worlds. With Dreams, Sony has a powerful creation app in its portfolio, but is not yet using it for Playstation VR 2. A missed opportunity.
Playstation VR 2 skips the Metaverse for now
It is possible that Sony will announce some kind of social VR app, but right now it looks like the Metaverse is not part of Sony's VR strategy.
We can only speculate as to why. The company might be wary of allowing VR applications that resemble public places in its official store. Sony could run into hate speech and content moderation issues that have plagued social networks for years.
The same issue arises with apps that allow users to create their own worlds: again, without the necessary oversight, content could be created that is problematic and even dangerous, especially for younger users.
Sony's decision not to use social VR means that these problems will not arise in the first place - although the positive aspects of the Metaverse mentioned above (social VR, avatars, world-building kits) could at the same time hold great potential for virtual reality.
In the past, Sony has also partnered with Epic Games, whose CEO Tim Sweeney is a Metaverse enthusiast. Both companies have said they see great potential in social 3D and VR content.