Sony’s next-gen PlayStation VR 2 headset is seriously impressive. It’s a real shame to limit it to just the PlayStation 5. We think Sony has a lot to gain from opening up PSVR 2 to PC users as well.
What is PlayStation VR 2?
The PlayStation VR 2 is the successor to the PlayStation VR headset launched for use with Sony’s PlayStation 4. PSVR reused the PlayStation 4 camera and PlayStation 3 Move controllers with a special processing unit to create high-end virtual reality. possible on Sony’s $399 console.
At the time, a PlayStation 4 with a PSVR headset was the most affordable way to experience high-end virtual reality compared to the cost of a PC VR setup. However, the original headset was somewhat bulky and not as polished as contemporary PC VR headsets at the time. While it was smart of Sony to reuse hardware the company already had, it resulted in a somewhat cobbled-together product.
With the PlayStation VR 2, things are very different. It’s a headset that was designed with hindsight and a clear idea of the future of virtual reality.
According to the official specs released by Sony, the PlayStation VR 2 uses a single USB-C connection, upside-down tracking, foveal rendering, and a 110-degree field of view. It also comes with the same next-gen haptic feedback found in the PlayStation 5’s DualSense controllers. While we don’t know the price of the headset at the time of writing, it’s much more likely to be somewhere between the $299 Quest 2 and the $599 HP Reverb G2 (often $399) than the $999 Valve Index.
A great VR experience
Oculus Quest 2 256 GB
The Oculus Quest 2 does it all, no matter what kind of VR you’re looking to experience, at a surprising price in the best way.
PlayStation VR 2 looks to the future
Since game consoles have a fixed level of hardware performance and need to stay relevant for a decade, it’s important to find ways to be efficient with this limited performance pool. Consoles have inspired many clever ways to get great performance out of the hardware you have. Dynamic resolution scaling, checkerboard rendering, and temporal anti-aliasing are good examples of smart ways to get the most out of your silicon. Of course, PC gaming has also benefited from these developments!
The PlayStation VR 2 offers foveal rendering, which is rare or even non-existent on current PC headsets. This technology uses eye tracking to selectively render highly detailed images of only the parts of the scene on which the fovea of the eye is currently focused. This means you perceive a high quality image and GPU resources aren’t wasted on things you can’t see at the time anyway.
We think making this technology a standard feature will motivate developers to use it and therefore PC ports of VR games are more likely to support it. Obviously, it would be ideal if the actual hardware could also run on PC and that’s a main reason for wanting PlayStation VR 2 on PC.
Does PC gaming compete with the PS5
It’s safe to assume that Sony is hoping its headset will sell more PlayStation 5 consoles and there will no doubt be some exclusive VR games that you need to own a PlayStation 5 and a PlayStation VR 2 to enjoy.
The question is whether the opening of PlayStation VR 2 on PC will affect this goal in any way. PC users who aren’t interested in the PlayStation 5 can still purchase the headset and we don’t see this hurting sales of PlayStation VR 2 headsets to PlayStation 5 owners. In fact, PC gamers may be more likely to purchase a PlayStation 5 in the future, knowing that their investment in a single headset will cover both platforms.
Sony games are entering the PC space
Sony has slowly started releasing PC ports of some once-exclusive games like Horizon: Zero Dawn. This hasn’t happened with VR games or PlayStation 5 exclusive games yet, but we can foresee a future where PC versions of PlayStation VR 2 games come to PC. If these games can only be fully experienced with the Sony headset, it makes sense to allow access to PC users.
There is a precedent for this. The DualSense controller works like a standard controller on PC and mobile devices, but without the full haptic experience. Some specific games, such as Metro Exodus, To do supports the full DualSense experience on something that isn’t a PlayStation. So we know Sony isn’t entirely opposed to the idea.
How difficult would PC compatibility be?
The original PSVR used external camera tracking using the PlayStation 4 camera. This device doesn’t have a standard interface, so there was no way to connect it to a USB port until recently. Sony had to supply an adapter so the PSVR could be used with a PlayStation 5, which only has USB ports.
There are various projects to “hack” the PSVR for PC use, but without proper camera tracking solutions, these are largely curiosities.
The PlayStation VR 2 uses a standard USB-C connection, so we don’t anticipate any fundamental hardware issues. Getting the PlayStation VR 2 to work with a PC is likely down to the software drivers. We have no doubt that enterprising hackers will eventually produce a third-party driver for the PlayStation VR 2, which is even more of a reason for Sony to step in and make the move itself.
Will PlayStation VR 2 be a loss leader?
There’s a big question: Console makers have been known to sell their hardware at a loss to establish an install base, making their money through the sale of software. This is the “leader” strategy and chances are Sony will use it with the PlayStation VR 2.
If the PlayStation VR 2 is indeed selling at a loss (the price is still unknown at the time of writing), Sony is unlikely to officially release it to PC users. After all, Sony doesn’t sell software to cover the loss of PC gamers.
Whatever Sony decides, there’s no doubt that the PlayStation VR 2 is an exciting VR hardware release, and we’d love it on PC. We hope you’re listening, Sony!