It seems clear at this point that Sony won’t be releasing a second PSVR headset to go alongside the launch of the PS5 later this year.
The tech giant will have its hands busy getting the market to adopt just one expensive new Christmas gift, for starters. But recent breadcrumbs dropped on the trail Sony is taking to VR on PS5 do have us wondering if the company might take a different approach to its next-generation rollout. Specifically, we’re growing increasingly interested in the idea that the company could release new VR controllers before a new headset.
Time To Move On
On September 15th of this year, Sony’s Move controllers will turn 10 years old. When PS5 launches, they’ll be two generations removed from their original console.
I won’t spend much time dishing out the insults on the Move controllers. Even in 2020, PSVR remains my favorite headset and VR ecosystem, but the Move’s limited tracking, confusing button layout and lack of analog sticks hang like a weight around the headset’s neck. The system is in dire need of an upgrade.
In fact, as excited as we are for the PSVR 2 headset itself, it represents only one of three areas Sony has to make strides with for VR on PS5. Another is processing power, a problem that’s solved with the introduction of the new console. Improved controllers are the final piece of that puzzle. Naturally, you’d assume these would arrive alongside PSVR 2, but Sony may have cause to jump the gun a little earlier than that.
Last week’s reveal of PSVR support Hitman 3 has sparked a lot of speculation in the PlayStation community.
Somewhat strangely, neither Sony nor developer IO Interactive has yet confirmed what platforms Hitman’s PSVR support will be available on. Hitman 3 is coming to both PS4 and PS5 in January 2021, but it would be a truly bizarre situation if the PSVR support was limited to the PS4 version of the game, and yet Sony has not yet confirmed new PS5 games can support the old headset. This week, we found out the game doesn’t support the Move motion controllers and instead uses the DualShock 4, but either way, the existence of PSVR-compatible PS5 games means the point still stands.
At the same time, we’ve been closely following Sony’s progress with new VR controllers via published patents and research videos. The results, so far, are promising.
Most recently the above video — produced by Sony’s own PlayStation division — showcased a device with finger-tracking capabilities similar to Valve’s Index controllers. The device can detect when the player has their fingers wrapped around the controller’s grip, and mirror’s this with a pair of virtual hands. Patents, meanwhile, also point to improved ergonomics and, yes, analog sticks.
Plus, PS5’s new DualSense controller features improved haptic feedback and back triggers that put up resistance when pulled. These are features that have also been spotted in VR controller patents and would surely make sense for second-generation Move controllers.
While marketing a new, $300+ headset to go alongside your likely $400+ new console might be out of the question this Christmas, a new pair of $100 controllers for PSVR’s existing fanbase seems like an easier sell.
So far we know PS5 supports old PSVR controllers — including Move, DualShock 4 and Aim — for backward compatible PS4 games only. You won’t be able to use them for new PS5 games but, if Sony is going to let new games like Hitman support VR, there needs to be some sort of workaround. New, future-proof motion controllers strike us as the most logical avenue.
Not to mention the knock-on effect of then reducing the cost of PSVR 2 itself whenever it finally arrives; a base package that includes the headset alone could drive down costs.
The Future Awaits
This is, of course, all speculation at this point in time, but with the clock running down on 2020, we’re sure to learn more about Sony’s PSVR plans in the near future. With the wait for PSVR 2 likely to go on for a good while longer, shipping new controllers sooner rather than later would be a great way to whet our appetites.