Sony gearing up for next wave of VR experiences as metaverse hype soars

In the early days of VR gaming, before the Oculus Quest helped bring down the barriers to entry, consumers would either have to buy an expensive VR headset to pair with an even more expensive high-end PC gaming rig or they would need to get a PSVR for their PlayStation 4. The PSVR did surprisingly well given how nascent VR was at the time, selling 5 million units as of 2020. While 5 million only represents a little over 4% of the total PS4 installed base, Sony’s clearly a believer in the potential of the medium and during CES 2022 officially announced that PS VR2 is in development.

PS VR2 will plug into Sony’s new PS5 console and offer a substantial improvement in visual fidelity with a 4K HDR OLED display, 110-degree field of view, and foveated rendering. Players will be able to enjoy a display resolution of 2000×2040 per eye and frame rates of 90/120Hz.

Moreover, to offer even greater immersion, Sony is utilizing 3D audio, haptic feedback within the headset, and eye tracking, “so a simple look in a specific direction can create an additional input for the game character… [allowing] players to interact more intuitively in new and lifelike ways, allowing for a heightened emotional response and enhanced expression that provide a new level of realism in gaming.”

Sony has not committed to a specific release date, nor has the company discussed price. The PS VR2 reveal comes while the entire technology sector has been pushing the concept of the metaverse. Metaverse hype is hard to escape at the moment, and while Sony has not been very vocal about the idea, it’s likely that launching its own VR headset keeps its seat at the table warm. Unlike Facebook, Google, or others, Sony has a plethora of IP to leverage in the metaverse, or at the very least, to keep gamers entertained. One detractor, however, is former PlayStation executive and “Father of the PlayStation,” Ken Kutaragi, who commented that he “can’t see the point” in the metaverse and that headsets are “simply annoying.”

Whether Sony leverages its VR pursuits for wider metaverse ambitions remains to be seen, but Interpret’s New Media Measure® does reveal that PlayStation owners are generally more interested in purchasing a VR headset than PC/laptop owners. Interest in VR among the PlayStation userbase is on par with both Nintendo Switch and Xbox owners, underscoring how much gaming audiences have been driving VR adoption, even if Nintendo and Xbox have been on the VR sidelines.