The PSVR is arguably the most under-appreciated virtual reality headset on the market. While it doesn’t have the power of the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, it comes with a lower total cost and a more user-friendly setup. While Sony has never focused too heavily on its peripherals, the PSVR is a shining example of what’s possible when Sony explores a sub platform's potential. With the PlayStation 5 on the horizon, it raises the question of how Sony could improve its Virtual Reality system with a potential PSVR2.
The additional power of the PS5 would bring a new world of possibilities in terms of graphic fidelity, making experiences all the more believable. Right now, the PSVR’s main challenge is the hardware limitation set in place by the PS4 itself, especially with the launch consoles beginning to show their age. The PlayStation 5 specs released so far seem to indicate that the console will be able to compete with current mid-tier PCs in terms of power, meaning that games on the headset should manage to look a lot sharper than what is currently possible.
The most obvious change would be making the headset wireless. One of the biggest issues the current iteration faces is the sheer amount of bulk it carries, as it requires multiple cables to be plugged in and ran around a living room. Meanwhile, Oculus recently released the Oculus Quest, a self-contained virtual reality headset without wires, though with slightly lower visual quality than its wired counterparts. It’s a trade off, but one that has largely been worth it. The Quest has proven to be a popular headset, and should serve as a good point of reference for Sony. Luckily, a recent patent filing has indicated that the next PSVR will be wireless. A potential wireless headset does raise the question of just how powerful of a VR headset it would be, but it’s also possible that Sony could release two versions: one wired, one wireless.
With a new console comes new controller designs. The next PlayStation controllers, presumably the DualShock 5, probably won’t get a massive overhaul, but it may be time for Sony to iterate on the somewhat dated design of the Move controllers. Right now, the Move controllers are bulky with an outdated charge port. A more ergonomically sound refresh with USB-C would go a long way in terms of design.
The look of the headset itself is an area that the PSVR has always excelled. It’s sleek and futuristic looking; a great compliment to the PlayStation’s similarly polished look. Sony should still iterate on the design, but it should still be a compliment to the PlayStation 5. The leaked PS5 devkits are ugly at best, but devkits usually aren’t that indicative of the final product. The console will, hopefully, emulate the same type of design. Plus, if prior generations are any indication, a Slim version is pretty much guaranteed and a Pro seems equally likely halfway through the generation. If Sony plans on supporting the PSVR2 through all of next-gen, it’s fairly likely that the company will try and match the designs to some degree.
Sony also needs to give players more of a reason to invest in their VR headset. While it hasn’t lacked software support, games like Astro Bot Rescue Mission could sell anyone on VR, it hasn’t done much with its vast library of licenses on the platform. The PSVR2 needs a killer app, which is something the PS5 could easily help shepherd in. Sony could resurrect an IP like Jak and Daxter or Sly Cooper as a PSVR2 project or launch title, selling longtime Sony fans on the system and introducing the characters to an entirely new generation of gamers.
Sony excels at creating hardware - it always has. The de facto winner of this console generation, it’ll likely enter the next-gen arena with a lot of confidence in its new console. There’s a clear opportunity to tout the PSVR2 as a great compliment to the PS5. As long as the company is clear in its messaging, then Sony should be in a good position for a successful console and VR headset. Only time will tell how well it performs, but console gamers should still be excited for a refresh to the headset.