Are you ready for something special? Well, strap yourselves in and hold on tight, a potential game-changer for home gaming will be released this year, a device that could change the way we play forever – the PlayStation VR.
Virtual Reality has long been on the wishlist of many gamers, especially those of us who have played Arcade VR games (my first go was in the Trocadero in London, playing some awful game with bare polygons and what felt like a motorcycle helmet on my head), but none have ever really broken through to the home gaming market, meaning that a fully immersive home experience has never quite been achieved.
PlayStation VR promises to bring virtual reality to home gamers through a sleek new headset. The price and release date are to be confirmed, but the rumours currently place it at around £350 (£100 more than the console itself, so not cheap) and most experts expect a release in the Autumn. If the VR can deliver what it seems to promise in the trailers, then it really could lead a new revolution of gaming.
PS VR isn’t the only one in the running for 2016 however. The Oculus Rift system is perhaps the best known (and longest hyped) which will also launch soon, as well as Apple and Google who are rumoured to have versions in development themselves.
“The rumoured price is currently around £350 and most experts expect a release in the Autumn”
Oculus Rift has been in the media a lot, especially after Mark Zuckerburg (yes, the Facebook chap) bought the business for $2bn last year. No doubt Oculus will make a splash with Facebook’s horsepower behind it, but there is a lot of chatter about how beefy your hardware will need to be to run the system.
The demos look fantastic, but how accessible is it going to be for your average gamer? PlayStation VR is for PS4 gamers (over 36 million PS4 consoles have been sold worldwide as of January 2016, rumoured to be double that of the Xbox One!), meaning plug n’ play virtual reality gaming could be possible in homes everywhere (or at least those with a PS4).
As with anything like this, particularly with such hype, success will depend on the games available at launch and immediately afterwards. Both Sony and the game developers, will need to harness the interest in the product and deliver some eye-wateringly good games from day one (or at least from month one). There is a very small window to achieve greatness on the back of the hype, and if it isn’t achieved, the hardware will most likely be doomed.
“Game-changers in the industry come along every so often, many become over-hyped and lead to a disappointment, some however can actually be the change that it promised”
Some lists online have appeared showing over 50 games expected at launch, with the official Sony PlayStation VR site also listing some headline games. Whilst there are only a few listed officially, it is clear that they are aiming for at least one from each genre (including a pretty cool prehistoric adventure game), or at least to appeal to different gamers and different ages.
Game-changers in the industry come along every so often, many become over-hyped by consumers and journalists and lead to a disappointment, some however can actually be the change that it promised, and lead to further industry change.
Think about the Nintendo Wii, everyone wanted to play Wii Sports didn’t they! We were all desperate to try bowling and tennis, and we all heard the tales about a friend who accidently let go of the controller, which then smashed into a TV (and in the case of one of my friends, into a window somehow). The Wii was a game-changer, it made movement gaming and the involvement of the whole family massively popular (who didn’t want to see their granny boxing?), selling over 100 million consoles worldwide.
How are you getting on with your Nintendo Virtual Boy by the way? Still using it as much as you used to? What’s that, you don’t have one?
The Virtual Boy was released in 1995 and was effectively a handheld virtual reality Gameboy. It sold 770,000 devices worldwide – pretty respectable I thought until I read that the Nintendo DS sold over 158 million! The VB involved looking through a viewfinder whilst using a joystick, which was pretty awkward given the shape of the device.
Many people complained about the terrible red LED display, the discomfort from the device and general eye strain, and this was after paying around £179 for the privilege of having one (that was a lot of money in 1995). The device was universally panned by critics, becoming Nintendo’s second lowest selling product ever (the first being 64DD).
I’m pretty confident that PS VR won’t flop like the Nintendo VB however. Sony has massive firepower and backing, and an already hugely successful console out there. I certainly plan to get on board the PlayStation VR train, will you?
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