Sony CES 2022 VR Presentatin
Sony Corporation

Sony’s next-generation PlayStation VR 2 headset is truly impressive. That makes it a real shame to limit it to the PlayStation 5 alone. We think Sony has much to gain by opening the PSVR 2 to PC users, too.

What Is PlayStation VR 2?

The PlayStation VR 2 is the successor to the PlayStation VR headset released for use with the Sony PlayStation 4. The PSVR re-used the PlayStation 4 camera and the Move controllers from the PlayStation 3 along with a special processing unit to make high-end VR possible on Sony’s $399 console.

A child using a Sony PS VR headset.

At the time, a PlayStation 4 with a PSVR headset represented the most affordable way to experience high-end VR compared to the cost of a PC VR setup. However, the original headset was somewhat cumbersome and not as refined as contemporary PC VR headsets at the time. While it was smart of Sony to re-use hardware the company already had, it did result in a somewhat cobbled-together product.

With the PlayStation VR 2, things are very different. It’s a headset that’s been designed with the benefit of hindsight and a clear idea of VR’s future.

According to the official specifications released by Sony, the PlayStation VR 2 uses a single USB-C connection, inside-out tracking, foveated rendering, and a 110-degree field of view. It also comes with the same next-generation 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 far likelier to fall somewhere between the $299 Quest 2 and the $599 (often $399) HP Reverb G2 than the $999 Valve Index.

A Great VR Experience

Oculus Quest 2 256GB

The Oculus Quest 2 does it all, no matter what kind of VR you’re looking to experience, at a price that’s surprising in the best way.

The PlayStation VR 2 Is Forward-looking

Since gaming consoles have a fixed hardware performance level and must remain relevant for as much as a decade, it’s important to find ways to be efficient with that limited pool of performance. Consoles have inspired many smart ways to get great performance from the hardware you have. Dynamic resolution scaling, checkerboard rendering, and temporal anti-aliasing are good examples of smart ways to get more from your silicon. Of course, PC gaming has also benefited from these developments!

The PlayStation VR 2 features foveated rendering, something which is rare to non-existent on current PC headsets. This technology uses eye-tracking to selectively render high-detail imagery only on the parts of the scene the fovea of the eye is currently focused on. This means you perceive a high-quality image, and GPU resources aren’t wasted on things you can’t see at that moment anyway.

We think that making this technology a standard feature will motivate developers to use it and so PC ports of VR games are more likely to support it. Obviously, it would be ideal if the actual hardware could also work on PC and this is a prime reason to want the PlayStation VR 2 on PC.

Is PC Gaming Competing With the PS5

It’s safe to assume that Sony hopes its headset will sell more PlayStation 5 consoles and there will undoubtedly be exclusive VR games for which you must own a PlayStation 5 and PlayStation VR 2 to enjoy.

The question is whether opening the PlayStation VR 2 to PC will affect that goal in any way. PC users who have no interest in PlayStation 5 may still buy the headset and we don’t see that hurting sales of PlayStation VR 2 headsets to PlayStation 5 owners. In fact, PC gamers may be more likely to buy a PlayStation 5 in the future knowing that their single headset investment will cover both platforms.

Sony Games Are Entering the PC Space

Horizon Zero Dawn PC

Sony has slowly started releasing PC ports of some formerly exclusive games like Horizon: Zero Dawn. This has yet to happen with VR games or with PlayStation 5 exclusive games, but we can foresee a future where PC versions of PlayStation VR 2 games come to PC. If those games can only be fully experienced with the Sony headset, it does make sense to allow PC users access.

There is some precedent for this. The DualSense controller works as a standard controller on PC and mobile devices, albeit without the full haptic experience. Some specific games, such as Metro Exodusdo support the full DualSense experience on something that isn’t a PlayStation. So we know Sony isn’t entirely averse to the idea.

How Hard Would PC Compatibility Be?

The original PSVR used external camera tracking using the PlayStation 4 camera. That device doesn’t have a standard interface, so there has been no way to connect it to a USB port until recently. Sony had to issue an adapter so that the PSVR could be used with a PlayStation 5, which only features USB ports.

There are various projects to “hack” the PSVR for PC use, but without proper camera tracking solutions, they are largely curiosities.

The PlayStation VR 2 uses a standard USB-C connection, so we don’t foresee any fundamental hardware issues. Getting the PlayStation VR 2 to work with a PC is likely down to 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 reason for Sony to step in and make that move itself.

Will PlayStation VR 2 Be a Loss-leader?

There is one big question: Console makers are known to sell their hardware at a loss in order to establish an install base, making their money through software sales. This is the “loss-leader” strategy and there’s a good chance Sony will employ it with the PlayStation VR 2.

If the PlayStation VR 2 does indeed sell at a loss (the price is still unknown at the time of writing), then Sony is unlikely to officially make it available to PC users. After all, Sony isn’t selling software to cover the loss to PC gamers.

However Sony decides to do it, there’s no doubt that the PlayStation VR 2 is an exciting VR hardware release, and we would very much like it on PC. We hope you’re listening, Sony!

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