Does Sony's Project Morpheus mean mainstream VR gaming is inevitable?
Sony has announced Project Morpheus at GDC, its latest attempt to claim the virtual reality headspace after a year in which the rival Oculus Rift has been marking out huge swathes of virtual territory on behalf of PC gamers. There was no launch date for Sony’s wearable headset tech, only that it will eventually be available for PS4 – and only one game has been announced thus far – but it seems clear Sony are opening up a second front in the next-gen war, this one against the benign PC collective.
Morpheus, which will be compatible with the Playstation 4 Camera to augment tracking and the under-utilised Move controller, is said to be comparable with recent Oculus Rift prototypes. The current Morpheus specs boast an LCD display (960×1080 resolution per eye), with a 90-degree field of view. Oculus VR however have since announced pre-orders for the DK2 (Dev Kit 2), which features Morpheus-style positional tracking, an OLED display (same res as Morpheus) and a 100-degree field of view, all for $350. To coin a phrase, it’s on, clearly.
CCP Games, which has been spearheading Rift game development with Eve: Valkyrie, has been playing both sides; demonstrating its first-person space shooter for Morpheus at GDC, with a future release on both platforms now on the cards. (2014 is still being mooted for the Rift version.) Eidos too have been quietly busy, creating a limited Morpheus version of its recent Thief, although with no stated plans to develop the game further. However, with EA’s CEO revealing that the Titanfall publisher is investigating the potential of virtual reality games, and rumours that Microsoft are pursuing its own VR hardware, there’s a sense that not only is VR gaming gaining momentum, mainstream adoption is in serious danger of becoming inevitable. Sony has expressed a desire to make VR as appealing for the Home user as the hardcore gamer and if it can keep prices low and and technology and interface accessible, there’s every chance that widescale adoption will follow. That said, didn’t Microsoft adopt a similar strategy for the original Kinect?
Whatever the future for VR gaming in general and Project Morpheus specifically, the next-gen war just got a whole lot more interesting.