I saw a tweet earlier this week that basically said, amid heightened competition from Microsoft and Nintendo, Sony could do without the distraction of PSVR2. I understood where the poster was coming from: I too have been guilty of looking at this medium through the prism of an ongoing business battle, where games are ammunition in a war between corporations that doesn’t really exist.
But through my older eyes I thought it was a bit sad to suggest that Sony, one of the industry's pioneers, should effectively stop pioneering. I've always considered PlayStation to be the intersection between technology and entertainment. It’s a beautiful marriage because the technology enhances the quality of the entertainment, and the entertainment demands the technology to improve.
Now I know virtual reality isn’t for everyone, and I genuinely accept and respect that. But, in my opinion, PlayStation makes best-in-class interactive worlds, and I honestly can’t think of many things better than being able to exist inside them. PSVR2, with its raft of improvements, will take us one step closer to that, and surely that’s something to be celebrated.
Obviously, I can see how this a risk for Sony: virtual reality is a little more established these days, thanks to the groundwork laid by the original PSVR and alternative products like the Meta Quest 2, but it’s still a niche. And yet ultimately, don’t we want platform holders to take risks? Not everything works out, of course – the history of the industry is littered with failed ideas – but surely we should be encouraging companies to try.
The idea that a manufacturer like Sony should simply tread familiar water, purely because it finds itself in a more competitive market right now, is backwards to me. Platform holders need to differentiate and find their own unique voice; look at, say, the Nintendo Switch, which has changed the way many play by making home console gaming viable on the go.
I’m excited for PSVR2 – evidently – but I’m not naïve and I’m obviously aware of all the potential pitfalls it could fall into. Having said that, I’m not going to discourage PlayStation from taking an alterative path to others and trying something different. We need the industry to constantly reinvent itself in order for it to remain engaging, and that requires its market leaders to be brave.
So maybe virtual reality will prove a distraction, and maybe history will peg it as a flop. But I don’t want this industry to sit on its hands and satiate me with the same old: I want to see bold new intellectual properties and brave new ideas. The games we play and the way we experience them needs to evolve, otherwise we may stop playing all together.
Do you think Sony should abandon innovations like PSVR2 in this increasingly competitive environment? Do you believe virtual reality will be a distraction, or is it a key differentiator? Strap yourself in in the comments section below.