Rumours have been circulating for a while now that Virtual Reality will be the next big thing in entertainment. Oh wait, that was the 80’s. Fast forward 30 years and it looks like the fantasy future of fully immersive Virtual Reality might actually be here at long last. Thanks to start ups like the Oculus Rift, there has been a modern day resurgence into VR, mostly out of frustration that commercially available technology just doesn’t exist. However, all of this may be about to change.
Among others, Sony has been developing a VR headset which will supposedly be unveiled at the Gamers Developer Conference this month. Other than rumors and a few mockups circulating the net we don’t know much about it. We would assume of course that it would be compatible with the PS4 and it would be a shame to ignore the massive market potential of PS3 users still out there.
There are still a few minor issues that need to be worked out to make a VR headset a successful accessory item. Some of the technology currently in development still requires cables to be physically plugged in which means the viewer is usually confined to a chair or standing in one spot. There is also the latency problem. The human eye perceives movement in the real world in about 20-30 milliseconds. Any more than that and we perceive lag which can lead to the motion sickness some users have been complaining about. Then there is content. So far there is very little actual 360 degree content other than demos. Unless developers can make these technologies backward compatible with current content it could be a while before we see full VR compatible titles on the market.
Tellingly, one of Sony’s third party developers who have one of the headset prototypes, told Edge Online that,
“there’s little software to speak of currently, but they expect to see something from one of Sony’s first party studios at GDC, even if it is just a tech demo.“
“There’s also no pressure on developers from platform holder Sony to adopt the tech”.
While the lack of content is definitely a concern, once developers realise the awesome potential of the technology content will no doubt follow.
Whatever the case, 2014 looks set to be the year Virtual Reality actually becomes a reality. What’s your take? Would a VR headset be something you simply must have or do you think it’s going to be just another gimmick?