At 5+ million units sold, Sony’s PlayStation VR (PSVR) is thought to be the most successful VR headset on the market. The kit’s had a great run since launch in 2016, but should you buy a PSVR in 2020?
Just under two years ago, we stated that you should “definitely” buy a PSVR in holiday promotions. The price, paired with a growing library of games, made it an easy recommendation. But this industry moves quickly and there are a lot of new factors that complicate the question of if PSVR remains a worthy purchase.
So if you’re considering getting into VR, especially as much of the world remains in lockdown from COVID-19, we’re weighing up the pros and cons of if you should buy a PSVR in 2020.
PSVR Has Arguably VR’s Best Content Library
Though it might not offer the power of a PC, the PSVR still runs some of VR’s most ambitious, polished and visually-stunning games, as well as a wide selection of fantastic indie titles. Sony’s established first-party studios have churned out some of the best titles on any headset, like Astro Bot Rescue Mission and Blood & Truth. Meanwhile its long-running connections with major third-party publishers have brought big budget games like Resident Evil 7, No Man’s Sky and Skyrim to VR. These are games you’re not likely to find on the standalone Oculus Quest headset in the coming years (though most are also on PC).
Then there are the indies, arguably the lifeblood of the VR industry. Though they might not be the longest, most expansive games, experiences like Ghost Giant, Paper Beast and A Fisherman’s Tale have broken new ground in terms of gameplay, immersion and storytelling. Some of the industry’s most enduring classics like Beat Saber are ready and waiting to be played. If you need more reasons, check out our list of top 25 PSVR games. Plus many of these games are now regularly on sale, which leads us nicely onto the next point.
PSVR Is Still One Of The Cheapest Ways To Get Into VR (And It’s In Stock)
This is a point of two halves. Obviously to play PSVR you’ll need a PS4. If you don’t own the console already, getting into PSVR all-in will be considerably more expensive, around the region of $450 – $550 for the base console and headset. Even then, though, that’s on the cheaper side of VR offerings these days and you’re getting a PS4 out of it.
But over 100 million people do own a PS4 and, for them, it’s a much more attractive proposition. Best Buy sells units bundled with motion controllers, games and a PlayStation camera for $350 and we wouldn’t be surprised to see some deep price cuts by the time Black Friday rolls around once again.
As an added note only relevant to this point in time specifically; it’s also relatively easy to find a PSVR headset right now. Whereas Oculus and Valve headsets are struggling to meet demand in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve found a fair few retailers with PSVR units ready to go. If you’re looking for a VR headset to keep you entertained during lockdown, this could be a good bet.
PSVR Works On PS5
The question at the tip of everyone’s tongue right now is the PS5. Sony’s new console, said to be launching at the end of this year, remains a bit of a mystery right now, no doubt in part due to the issues surrounding COVID-19. We’ve seen its controller, we’ve seen its specs, but we don’t know what it looks like, what it costs and exactly when it’s coming (though Sony still insists it won’t be delayed).
But there’s one thing we do know; PS5 supports the original PSVR headset. Lead System Architect Mark Cerny confirmed as much last year. We know that PS5 will be backward compatible with the “vast majority” of PS4 games, so we’re hopeful that a lot of our VR library will carry over with us to the new console. That would mean that if you bought a PSVR in 2020, it at least won’t be useless come this holiday season.
PSVR Is A Dated VR Headset
This is the real elephant in the room here. In 2020, PSVR is still capable of producing powerfully immersive VR experiences, but the gap between the headset and its competitors is widening. The 1080p screen still does the job, but looks significantly blurrier when stacked up to the Oculus Quest, Rift S and Valve Index. Plus the headset’s tracking, which only allows you 180 degrees of movement when using the Move controllers, struggles to keep up with a lot of the best VR titles.
With features like inside-out tracking now present in other headsets, PSVR is looking more and more dated by the day.
An Oculus Quest May Be A Better Purchase
Though it doesn’t boast the power of the PS4, Facebook’s Oculus Quest headset easily trumps PSVR in terms of accessibility and immersion. True, you won’t be playing No Man’s Sky on Quest anytime soon (at least not without tethering the headset to a high-end PC), but what games you can play on Quest you can play without wires and a full 360 degrees of tracking. For games like Red Matter and Superhot VR, it offers a much more compelling end-result.
Plus Quest is just at the start of its life, with at least a few more years of exciting releases ahead of it. Plus, if you ever want to upgrade, you can instead buy a PC and play exclusive Oculus Rift titles like Lone Echo and Asgard’s Wrath. If you buy an Oculus Quest, you know you’ll be set for a little while. For PSVR, that might be a different matter…
PS4 Is At The End Of Its Life And PSVR Will Likely Be Replaced
This is the real kicker when considering whether or not you should buy a PSVR in 2020. PS5 is out later this year and, yes, it supports the headset. But we don’t know if new, native PS5 games will support PSVR and, more importantly, we don’t know when PSVR will be replaced with PSVR 2. Releases on PS4, meanwhile, are starting to dry up. The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, Iron Man VR and Pistol Whip are still to come but we’re not sure what else is on the horizon.
We do know Sony is working on prototypes for a follow-up headset; PSVR 2 is likely to bring about a raft of highly significant improvements, from tracking technology to screen resolution. If it were to arrive in 2021 (which is ambitious), it would mark a five year gap between headsets and we’d expect the end result to reflect that.
So, should you buy a PSVR in 2020? The answer is multi-faceted, depending on your circumstances. If you already own a PS4 and are looking to get into VR primarily for gaming — especially if you’re interested in high-end VR titles — the headset is still an easy recommendation. PSVR has some of VR’s best titles, many of which are exclusive to the headset.
But if you don’t yet have a PS4 and you’re curious about other options to get into VR, it gets a bit more complicated. You might be better off going with the more accessible Oculus Quest, which will get you up and running for less money. Or you might consider waiting to hear more about what Sony’s plans are for VR with PS5.
Do you agree with out assessment on if you should buy a PSVR in 2020? Are you planning on picking up the headset for yourself soon? Let us know in the comments below!