Originally published on CultNoise Magazine (now closed) | March 19
Sony finally revealed their long-rumoured virtual reality headset for PlayStation 4 at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco last night.
Speaking at the event, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida, commented that ‘virtual reality is the next innovation from PlayStation that may well shape the future of video games’. Given the gaming media’s advocacy of VR in recent months with the third-party Oculus Rift, this in an intriguing move on Sony’s part.
Codenamed ‘Project Morpheus’, the prototype head-mounted display features a 90 degrees diagonal field of view, 1000Hz motion sensor, support for 3D binaural audio, and will use the PlayStation Eye camera to track movement through full 360 degree positional tracking. Control is offered via the DualShock 4 and PlayStation Move motion controller, dependent on the game. Display, meanwhile, is reported to be full 1080p.
Given these features, comparison with Sony’s motion controller is warranted. Project Morpheus began development three years ago as a Move controller strapped to a head mounted display, but quickly evolved into the sleek design we saw last night.
PlayStation Move is often considered Sony’s biggest failure of the PS3 era, but there is little so far to indicate that this will be the case with Project Morpheus. PlayStation’s Anton Mikhailov commented that the company is treating the device as a ‘medium, not a peripheral’. Sony have also teased a number of developers who are on board with the project, including Epic Games and Crytek, plus supported games shown at the event included Thief and EVE Valkyrie. Numerous tech demos were also shown, including submerging players in a shark-proof cage in ‘The Deep’, a medieval stronghold in ‘The Castle”, and even a manned mission to Mars.
“… virtual reality is the next innovation from PlayStation that may well shape the future of video games.’
– Shuhei Yoshida, President of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios
While no price or release date was revealed at the event, Sony hinted at an affordable price point. ‘One of the great things about something being consumer electronics,’ Yoshida said when asked about its application beyond gaming, ‘is that it’s affordable’. Nonetheless, dev kits are already in the hands of selected developers, and Project Morpheus is available on the GDC show floor for the press to try.
By comparison, Oculus revealed their new wave of dev kit preorders today for the Oculus Rift, priced at $350 (around £210), with a full release reportedly coming this year. Furthermore, rumours this morning indicated that Microsoft might also be developing their own prototype VR headset. Given these developments, it’s becoming clear that a new front of the console war is coming over the horizon.
Expect to hear more about Project Morpheus in the near future.
Images courtesy of Sony Computer Entertainment and Oculus respectively.