Sony has announced that its next-generation PlayStation VR headset for PS5 will do away with its predecessor’s spaghetti of wires, replacing them “with a single cord to simplify setup and improve ease-of-use, while enabling a high-fidelity visual experience”. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg – whose company owns Oculus – has suggested in an earnings call with investors that he doesn’t expect customers to “go for that”.
“Some other folks might try to ship something that they claim is higher quality but has a wire, and I just don’t think that consumers are going to want to go for that,” he said. “Having wires wrapped around you just really breaks the sense of presence and immersion.”
Oculus, of course, has doubled-down on its wireless approach to virtual reality, with the current Oculus Quest 2 proving popular. The company has made wired headsets before, like the Oculus Rift S, but appears to be focused on its standalone approach for now. The aforementioned Oculus Quest 2 handles all of its processing within the headset, so while this does come with compromises, it means you don’t need to be connected to a computer or console.
There’s no doubt that wires do affect immersion in VR, but the biggest problem with PSVR has always been the sheer number of them required to use the headset. If the next-gen version can deliver on Sony’s promise of a single, simple cord then that alone will be transformative. However, as wireless VR continues to establish itself, it’ll be interesting to see whether PlayStation’s solution feels “dated” by the time it eventually releases in 2022.