At that time, I internally wrote two theories from this quote. First of all – and this is the one I will admit I was ready to assume – it can be seen that Sony is trying to take a graceful exit from the VR market. It’s a weird move to paint the future of VR as a distant thing just to announce a new headset less than four months later.
The second theory I will explain after this recent quote, given to GQ on the day the PS5 VR headset was announced.
“We believe in VR and have been very pleased with the results of the current PlayStation VR and believe that we will do good business with our new VR system for PlayStation 5. More importantly, we see it as something beyond this upcoming iteration that could really be very big and very important. ”
This quote fit quite perfectly with my second theory, which was that PlayStation does not see its second PSVR headset as a game-changing device that will deliver “the future of VR”
The console peripherals do not sell as well as the consoles themselves. Even success stories like Kinect for Xbox 360 make up only a fraction of the total installation base over a lifetime. It’s enough to make a tidy profit as a sidebar – or in Ryan’s words “good business” – but we all know that VR as a medium is destined for bigger and brighter things than binoculars for home consoles. Ryan’s quotes seem to acknowledge this and suggest that, even when Sony builds on PS5 VR, it plans future iterations that will expand the company’s status in the VR industry far beyond what PSVR 2 can do.
The future of VR at Sony
It most likely means a stand-alone headset, and perhaps not one that is actually related to the PlayStation brand itself, but instead evolved throughout Sony Corporation. Speculatively as it sounds, there is a precedent for this; In August 2020, the broader Sony Corp in Japan released a job listing to work on a VR headset “with five years from now in mind”.
This makes a lot of sense. Sony is, after all, a versatile company with cutting-edge TV, camera and audio products, not to mention a movie division to begin with. All of these arms extend to VR in one way or another, and VR’s real potential lies not only in gaming, but also productivity, fitness and film, areas that PlayStation as a device is not as closely linked to (although I would like to have the future of the work of being on PlayStation).
I can not wait for PSVR 2 (or whatever it ends up being called). I look forward to playing great AAA games with refined motion controls and superior graphics. And I’m optimistic that it will have a healthy life, strong enough to support game developers who take the chance. But gaming is only a small part of the “future of VR”, and it seems that Sony by and large understands this. As a result, the VR ambitions can grow beyond the PlayStation itself.