Community Download: Does Sony’s PSVR Need An Upgrade?

by Joe Durbin • May 7th, 2017

E3 2017 is just around the corner. The annual video game mega-show typically plays host to some of the industry’s biggest announcements and this year is shaping up to be just as big as ever.

There will be plenty of fresh faces at E3 this year but, as usual, most eyes will be locked on one of the show’s most battle-hardened veterans: Sony.

PSVR_Playstation-VR

Sony’s press conference has been one of, if not the, biggest events at E3 for the past several years. The company has managed to stand out from the competition by focusing on showing games over anything else. This E3, we will undoubtedly be treated to the usual cinematic bombardment during Sony’s showcase but hopefully a major part of this onslaught will be devoted to the PSVR.

Sony’s inaugural VR system was released last year and has gone on to sell nearly one million units at last count. However, despite the success that comes with being tied to the PlayStation ecosystem, the PSVR remains the least powerful of all the upper-tier headsets.

While competitors such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have been regularly updating their performance with new hardware and software patches, the PSVR is more or less the same device that shipped last year. Upcoming accessories like the AIM controller are nice, but don’t do much to improve the issues with PSVR’s tracking and controls.

The Vive in particular is beginning to form a web of hardware add ons that, when combined, have the potential to make it the most advanced commercial VR headset in existence. Similarly, Oculus has plans to spend half a billion dollars 0n exclusive VR content for the Rift.

These sorts of investments are key to fostering a more successful and long-lasting VR industry, and yet Sony has been moving slowly to adopt similar practices.

Our question to you all this week is this: is it time for the PSVR to get an upgrade?

Whether it’s new hardware, more compelling content or something else all together, is this the year that Sony should get on that E3 stage and announce some serious support for its newest platform? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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  • Tommy

    They need to come out swinging with an onslaught of new AAA games for PSVR. We have been bombarded with nice little indie titles but most are too short or of genres that most people are not interested in.

    • Gary

      This is pretty much spot on. There’s nothing wrong with the hardware, it’s just all software. I’ll add that those games are overpriced as hell too for such short experiences.

  • Jayesh Roychowdhury

    A hardware upgrade would be really nice. With higher resolution, foveated rendering and better tracking PSVR can become a really compelling choice. Also regarding content, if they introduce something like Oculus Quill and Oculus Medium for professional artists, that would be really nice. VR has endless potential.

  • Sean Lumly

    I think that PSVR desperately needs better tracking. The system has plenty of flaws, but the largest of them is the inconsistent tracking which a (seemingly significant) portion of PSVR owners experience. The headset tracking lacks stability that hurts the experience, the DS4 tracking is quite bad (tracking wobble, and drifting yaw), and the tracking volume is way too small and limiting. Thankfully, the last major update seems to have fixed the move controller tracking, and hopefully future releases improve tracking further.

    But these issues should have been worked out before the unit was released, which, to me, kills confidence in Playstation engineers and sullies the reputation of Sony releasing quality, pick-up-and-play hardware.

    The resolution is a bit low, but I find it adequate. The real choking point for the unit is something that has zero to do with performance — the tracking, and this is the largest vulnerability of the system.

    I would not, and do not, recommend the PSVR. Save up for the Vive and a mid-spec PC. Should sony release an inexpensive tracking add-on that dramatically improves tracking (or a software update), I may change my stance.

    • 😣TakenABig💩Sh!t🚽RightNow😥

      I haven’t had none of those problems I’m about 3 weeks in of owning it but I would say sometimes it gets a little blurry but it only lasts for a second or two but movies play perfect on it especially 3d movies I own resident evil Batman VR until dawn blood rush & vr world’s so far so good but they do need more games big franchise games like resident evil status

  • Tony

    I own a PSVR and am very happy with it. I know performance seems to vary from person to person but I’ve found the experience to be quite positive and have had very little in the way of wobble and tracking issues. I’ve had some drift when in cinema mode but the placement of the camera seems to be a big factor in how well the whole thing works, including drift.

    I would like to see a better camera and some improved controllers with more options (built in joysticks for example); a way to track movement when you are facing away from the camera would be nice as well since your body currently will block the lights emitting from the Moves or DS4.

    But ultimately, I don’t know how dramatically the experience can be improved with the OG PS4 still in the equation. Sony insists that all software run on the original console and the PS4 Pro, while more powerful, is still nowhere near as powerful as a PC. There are some very pretty PSVR games out there like Arkham VR, Robinson, Eve: Valkyrie and Starblood Arena and I don’t know how much better the visual experience can get (I’ll be curious to see how Farpoint and Star Trek Bridge Crew look).

    Ultimately, I expect Sony to focus primarily on software at E3; I’d be very surprised if we see any new hardware.

  • Edward J. Doura Jr.

    I’m very happy with my initial experience with the PSVR. Games like Until Dawn Rush for Blood and demos like Star Wars show the potential for VR. The number one thing that I would like to see released is an upgraded headset (PSVR Pro) with higher resolution for the PS4 Pro along with more AAA title VR games.

    • Toby Zuijdveld

      At this cost, they definitely shouldn’t be releasing upgraded hardware, until next generation.

  • koenshaku

    Playstation Move was outdated long before it was resurrected for PSVR.

  • Kevyn Bradley Grams

    PSVR does need to be upgraded, and it will in time, but I don’t think that time is now. What I would like to see for now is more peripherals, and expansion to broader markets. If Sony wants to be competitive in the VR market, and truly expects for VR to be an iPhone like devices for them, they can not do it by closing out non gaming and non entertainment software and peripherals. Sony need to open this up to allow 3rd parties to release software with their own custom controllers. They need to open the PS4 and VR up to any and all industries.

    For now, the hardware needs to stay the same. It takes years to build games, and the original unit and tracking set up are less than a year old. In my opinion the best time to do a revision would be whenever they release PS4 Premium or PS5. There is no doubt that Sony will release a new PS4 tier or a PS5 in 2018 – 2019 on a 7nm APU. At this point a new camera, headset, and controllers would make total sense, and it would not be seen as a screwing over the early buyers as much.

    On the next PSVR I would like to see a 4K camera with Sony’s new 960fps camera tech. I think a camera should be added to the headset to help tracking, and add AR abilities. They should move to a curved screen to increase the field of view, and bump the resolution to 1440p or 4K either one way HDR is a must. Finally, they obviously need to bring out new motion tracking controllers.

    I love the current PSVR, and it is exactly what it needs to be at this point in time. What we need for the next 18 – 24 months is software, software, software. Let developers learn and make mistakes right now. By the time the new equipment arrives, there should be good understanding of VR, and we should start to see bigger franchises take a serious look at it. Hopefully the next Grand Theft Auto can go VR, and we can have a VR Call of Duty every 3rd year. Once this happens VR will fully take flight in gaming, and it should really start to pick up in all other markets as well.

    • Toby Zuijdveld

      Man, they were probably too far in development when PSVR was announced, but RDR2 in VR would have been the balls. A world sized western shooting gallery? Shit.

  • Marco Dena

    3 cameras roomscale tracking similar to Oculus, if possible.

  • Candy Cab

    Sometimes it seems like I’m the only PSVR user that has had no tracking problems except random headset drift, which was fixed in the first or second firmware update. I think the hardware is fine as is for now, though a multi camera setup to expand the play space or just improve whats already there would be cool if possible. We just need more compelling software which will come in time I’m sure. Still a bit early to expect several AAA titles to hit the market anytime soon.

    • John DeSilvestri

      ha would love to know your set up. I don’t get too many tracking problems but when I do they come full force. I’m wondering if it’s a lighting problem

      • Candy Cab

        I play in a room that is about 15″W x 20″L x 8″D , camera is about 55′ off the floor on top of a 55′ TV, sit or stand 5-6 feet from the camera which puts the tracking lights anywhere from 2-4 feet high. I have read lighting and reflections can be a problem for some people. Day or night I have the window covered with blackout curtains so the only light in the room is from the TV.

        I just tried to follow Sony’s directions for setup. Unless I step out of the play area I have never had issues with tracking registering within game objects etc. The tracking wobble has always been very minor as well. Maybe I just got lucky with the hardware ? I would assume my setup is nothing special ? I do feel pretty fortunate that I haven’t had any real issues other than cinema mode drift just after launch, sucks that tracking issues are ruining other peoples fun.

    • Derrick Reisdorf

      I am fine with what is available right now. A lot of different, unique experiences. RIGS is a legitimate multiplayer shooter. Job Simulator is a fun and charming romp in a wacky VR setting. Werewolves Within is a fun social game- VR not necessarily needed, but definitely lends to immersing you into this social setting. Headmaster is a stationary headbutting exercise, but its humor and variety keeps the game fresh while demanding you to (*ahem*) master the art of headbutting. Trackmania Turbo is an intense time-attack-based driving game. (Dirt is purportedly better, bet I’ve yet to play it). Playroom VR features the best platformer I’ve ever played- albeit a bite-sized experience; Robots Rescue had me smiling gleefully the entire playthrough…I pray that they release a full-size game of it! Thumper is an intense grid shooter. Rez is lauded as a great game. There are a lot more games that are good that I’ve yet to play- Psychonauts Rhombus of Ruin, Resident Evil 7, Fruit Ninja VR, Holoball, Statik, Farpoint, Obduction, etc.
      Everyone seems to think that VR HAS to have games that give players 20 hours of gameplay? I never understood why people have such a problem with this. Why does a game have to be that long? For a story? You don’t need 20 hours to tell a story. Most games that are that long are really just repeating the same gameplay over and over. I am fine with having a variety of $15-30 smaller, different VR experiences. Most video games I like are smaller games- one reason being is I don’t want to spend half a year playing the same game.

      • Candy Cab

        I totally agree about the time thing, so long as the experience is fun I don’t care if it an hour long or 20 hours long. If you like rally at all Dirt is a must own, its amazing with a wheel setup and still fun with just a DS4. So far I have been very happy with the game lineup and have been chewing through pretty much all the PSN store content. I will always prefer 2D gaming but other than the time they eat up they aren’t exactly comparable with VR being such a different experience where you are in the game 100% all the time. That can get a little tiring after a while but its a blast to jump on and play a few hours here and there. I doubt any VR game will ever get me to play for hours on end like running raids in destiny etc.

  • Olivér Láng

    It is not e relevant question at the moment. Can someone really imagine, that after 6 month Sony will release a new headset? Maybe camera, or the move controllers, but as a first gen. product it works well. Tracking issue is in cinema mode only, I have not experienced any of them in 3D mode. What we need is content. Reading a lot in this subject my impression is, that the most of the VR owners just cant go back to 2D gaming easily.

    • Stuart Grant

      Exactly, 2D gaming holds little appeal for me now. I tried the Prey demo yesterday and was all, meh, boring… Had it had a VR mode, then you’d be talking!

    • Toby Zuijdveld

      There are minor tracking/drift issues in 3D mode, the DS4 tracking in Statik is a clear example (extended play sessions can have your box on a 90 degree angle after moving your controller around a bit – shaking it a bit helps sort that out) but I also had one session in Driveclub VR where eventually mid-race I could no longer see over the bonnet because I had apparently been sinking into the seat at a steady pace.

    • Tamas Kalman

      tracking is a BIG issue with PSVR, it’s the weakest tracking among all the other options.
      not just the area is small but it’s extreme unreliable as well unfortunately.

  • timothytripp

    The headset itself is fine, but they need to add Bluetooth headphone support and either patch or replace the side unit so it can do HDR pass through and fix the lockups on PS4 Pro (BTW the reason for that is that it has problems with HDCP handshake unless you force the audio output to DTS in System Setiings).

    The HDR pass through support is really annoying. Having to choose between HDR or PSVR with physical wiring is unacceptable.

  • First and foremost they need games. Content is king.

    Second, if Sony is in a position to do so I think a price drop would be helpful getting this into the hands of the millions of PS4 owners out there.

    Lastly, rather than a hardware upgrade, I believe an optional second camera would help a lot. I haven’t experienced a lot of tracking issues (mostly just in Surgeon Simulator or if I veer too far off center), but a second camera (plugged into one of the USB ports?) along with a firmware upgrade could hopefully provide a full 360 experience when using the Move controllers.

    I think the only time a full PSVR hardware upgrade makes sense is alongside the PS5 (whenever that is). When that time comes, better headset (and wireless), controllers with sticks on them for movement and some way of doing gestures, and either multiple cameras or outward-facing trackers, etc.

  • Konchu

    Tracking is the only real complaint I have had, isn’t bad just not near its PC counterparts. Resolution though lower than the others is good and in many ways better in my opinion its a better pixel layout so to me is not as noticeable on the screen door to me and very comfortable design. Farpoint is so close I’m excited.

  • First and foremost, we need more software and we need more top-tier developers to get onboard and get to cranking out games with VR modes included. Having played a lot of World War Toons, I’m of the opinion that First Person Shooters need very little to make them VR-ready, which opens the door really for a lot of existing FPS’s to get VR-enabling-DLC. Done right, it won’t feel ‘tacked on’.

    As for the existing hardware, I agree with the others here that the firmware patches over time have improved PSVR’s tracking significantly, and that it can always be improved upon with the addition of other sensors. I’d prefer a multi-node echo-location based tracking system that uses a subsonic audio based matrix of soundwaves to rapidly map and read-back the VR play-space; because it seems to me that whether working with sound-waves or optical photons, either system is going to have to be able to sense and decode that information into data that the system can use as quickly as possible. That being the case, it would seem that echo-location may be faster to decode than scene-based-recognition interpolated across multiple visual frames. The patent applications that were disclosed in recent months may hint in that direction for Sony’s future upgrade offerings, if the patent is in-fact what Sony decide in the end to go with –it wouldn’t be surprising to find that this is just one of several technologies that Sony is experimenting with to find the right fit.

    I like what Sony’s doing with the Aim controller. I’d like to see a next-gen upgrade / replacement for the Move controllers though to include at least 1 analog stick per controller, placed about there the big thumb button is located now, and configured to place the functions of the existing button as a simple click-switch much like an L3 or R3 button on the DS4. This would make for a controller that rivals Oculus Touch.

    But yeah, more than anything, we need good software. I’d like to see more of the existing VR developers push their titles to being multiplatform, and see a lot more of the traditional game development houses get involved in cranking out next gen VR properties of their own. There are *so many* good games made over the past few decades that could make for some hellacious foundations for VR game-sequels. While EVE:Valkyrie, Battlezone, Starblood Arena and Space Rift have shown that simulators in VR can totally rock, they’re really barely pushing the envelop with what *could be* done. We need a really good Zero-G combat sim made for VR with epic length, reflective of games like Freespace (1 or 2, take your pick), and other vehicle based simulators that have a length comparable to standard 2D games –I don’t mind a bit to come home from work and put an hour at one stage in a massive game in VR and call it at that for the night’s session, because I’ll have more content to look forward to when I return later.

    We also need VR game devs to understand that VR players are enough of a mixed lot that it should become standard to include multiple types of locomotion and other VR-sickness-protection measures, including the option to disable them all. VR sickness is not a uniform experience of all VR players. Quite the contrary, many of us had been players of intense 3D games for many years prior to the launch of VR and had quite the stomach for it already. It’s sort of like being acclimated to sky diving versus not being so, when sky diving for the first time or two. The experienced diver is naturally going to be more into coaxing the sensations of what they’re doing, rather than trying to avoid them. As a VR player, I’m much the same way. I *look forward to* the rush in the pit of my stomach when I pull off a crazy move in VR; to me, it feels like what should be naturally occurring, and is one of the great many numbers of reasons that I love VR.

    As far as developers worried about whether they should sink money into VR investments, I’d say that they should go ahead and take the risk. If the developer is known for it’s skills to begin with, then they’ll have no problems selling their games on VR, and might actually be the ones to come up with that elusive ‘killer app’. At the same time, the VR developers that have a legacy of titles shouldn’t hesitate to look back into their own history and found what titles from their past can find new life in VR. I can think of several hundred games that I’ve bought over the past few decades that practically scream for VR sequels or VR-remasters… Right off, I’d love to see “Battlezone 2:Combat Commander” ported to PSVR and remastered with modern effects, textures, lighting and higher geometry than the original release (or better yet, an actual sequel to BZ2, that incorporates VR from the beginning). Battlezone on PSVR has a very similar feel to the hover-tanks in BZ2, and the first time I played it, BZ2 immediately popped into mind because they felt so similar –aside from the fact that in Battlezone VR, I could look around inside and even a bit outside of the tank’s cockpit (the latter done by standing up while the game is in the intro area, before entering the playfield… to do so later might be a bit tough to do without getting smoked!).

  • comicbookjerk

    Some of the worst problems can be found int the “Out of Range” Screen which can really be annoying as well as if you have a couch thats 7 feet away your not in range for the VR. This could be resolved if it had two cameras or was able to create one with two. You can actually use the PS VR with the PC as well as use the Move controllers as simple as purchasing 2 PLaystation eye cameras. So why doesn’t the PS4 adopt this?

    In VR Sports Bar it is a serious issue when trying to play pool as the right Move controller sometimes just vanishes making it extremely difficult to play it.

    The Head Tracking isn’t as bad a people say it it but the Move can be terrible.

    Also if you are 4 feet or smaller it is almost impossible to get the Camera set up correctly as you can try and test on Job Simulator which always pops you in the game either to high up or to far down causing you to have to reset the game.

    Another issue with the PS VR is the solid black loading screens of games which completely ruins the immersion of VR.

    Sure there are alot of problems but alot of them are simple fixes that could role out. This is first generation hardware for Sony but it also should have launched with a bigger library of games and someone should have sought out some of the VR developers who are building games for PC and helped them to port them over to PS VR because there just isn’t enough VR games to warrant the price tag at this point. Sure there are games…But none with any large replay value associated with them.

    • Toby Zuijdveld

      “why doesn’t the PS4 adopt this?”
      Either a lack of USB bandwidth or a lack of CPU resources to extrapolate the relevant data. Probably both. Either one creates an impossibility.

  • Fab Z

    PSVR does not require an upgrade and will not receive an upgrade. The headset is already excellent and still represents the best value for money VR experience out there. Sony will treat PSVR as a complete hardware generation so this kind of speculation is poorly framed. I’m wary of the incremental upgrade approach taken by Vive and OR, which in my opinion is further fragmenting and confusing offerings with already limited uptake.

    VR in all it’s forms needs to stop obsessing with hardware and focus on better software where there are huge gains to be made. Gains that desperately need to be made. Gains that don’t require additional investment on the part of the still limited customer base.

    So what should PSVR focus on? Top tier games and applications. Personally I’d love to see Google Earth or Street View on the platform. A Fifa VR would be great as well as more games that support the AIM and Move controllers.

    All hardware upgrades should be saved for PSVR 2.0, which can be released alongside PS5 and deliver the raft of improvements necessary to create a new and viable platform.

  • Roger Bentley

    they need a updated move controller with thumb sticks and 2 cam support

  • munjed younis

    I think it’s time to upgrade the issues behind blurriness and out of focus issues , I don’t know if it’s software or hardware improvement but that’s is to be considered

  • Fear Monkey

    Better move controllers, better camera, doesnt need a new headset. I would pay for a camera that gave me better performance tracking wise, but the current is good enough.

  • Chris Sartin

    I have no problems with tracking on the psvr. In fact, it works great, overall. I usually don’t rush to buy a new system, add-on, etc. However, I’m glad made the leap with PSVR. Resident Evil 7 is amazing in VR. The immersion is unbelievable. I hope it receives more first and third party support in the way of full length games like Resident Evil.

  • SHunter

    This thing is a piece of shit. This cant even touch what PC’s can give you in the experience.