Sony Computer Entertainment said this week that it would release its virtual reality headset called project Morpheus in the first half of 2016, but said nothing about the price. According to Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony’s Worldwide Studios, developing an affordable device was not the goal that Sony’s engineers had. They were told to make the right product so that people could enjoy it.
“The first time people try VR is the most dangerous time,” said Mr. Yoshida in an interview with Polygon web-site. “People get used to it after a while, but the first is the most susceptible to motion sickness. So we want to get the hardware right.”
Technology-wise, Morpheus, which is equipped with a 5.7” OLED panel with 1920*1080 (960*1080 per eye) resolution, 120Hz refresh rate and 100-degrees field of view, does not stand out from other VR headsets, such as those from Oculus VR. It does, however, look good and may even feature some secret sauce that will make it considerably better than the rivals. Still, given its technical specifications, it should not be too expensive, even though Sony claims that it did not really care about it.
“Price has not been driving our development process,” said the president of Sony Studios.
While the development of the headset itself is nearly finished, Sony now has to find ways to sell the product to end users. Sony cannot advertise VR gear using traditional methods or demonstrate its benefits outside of specially equipped showrooms.
“That is the number one challenge, people ask us what is the number one challenge for Project Morpheus? I say get people to try it,” said Mr. Yoshida. “Unless you try it, you do not understand how good or how great it is. The second best thing is to watch people playing it.”
While Sony seems to be optimistic about project Morpheus and virtual reality gaming in general, it clearly omits talking about business goals when it comes to VR. While the success of Sony’s PlayStation 4 is undeniable, only a fraction of PS4 owners will buy a VR headset for many reasons. If the installed base of the project Morpheus is low, not a lot of game developers create titles for it, which means that the product will fail eventually.
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KitGuru Says: In fact, in a bid to make PlayStation-only VR headset a success, Sony will have to bundle it with all of its game consoles. Since there are over 20 million PS4s without VR gear already, game developers will design titles primarily for non-VR setups. As a result, virtual reality gaming may not take off with the current-generation consoles at all…