PlayStation VR is coming, and like many others I have pre-ordered and will be sitting like a kid at Christmas waiting for DPD to keep me hanging on until the last moment to get my hands on the next phase of gaming tech. I am excited, many of my friends and colleagues are too, but is our excitement and enthusiasm clouding our judgment as to just what Sony are up to? Of all the VR experiences on offer this year, PlayStation VR has been billed as the one for the masses; the mainstream VR experience that all the developers will be working on titles for. All these statements should be true – the PS4 has sold eleventy million consoles so far, the VR headset prices are very competitive, and with the amount of people ready to commit £350 odd of their hard earned pennies, publishers know there will be a hunger for games and experiences. Brilliant… or is it?
On more than one occasion the Neo has been discussed in the office and the inner circle of the Codec Moments team, most of the responses to it have been based around the fact that 4K resolution is the only real selling point. If you haven’t got a 4K TV why bother? Is a bit of an improvement in the clock speed (2.1 Ghz compared to 1.6 Ghz), a better GPU and 25% more memory worth an upgrade? Especially when the PS4 should be merrily whirring away for years to come. I have already expressed my interest in getting one because I have two 4K TV’s in my house, and I have already earmarked the PS4 to be passed to my oldest boy child to use as (quite frankly) it is already sounding like a hyperactive asthmatic every time I play anything which gets a bit chaotic on screen. For me 4K is a good reason to upgrade, but then I started wondering a little more about it.
We have all been told that the PlayStation VR will come with a little box of tricks that does all the technical stuff allowing it to kick out 120 FPS at 18ms latency. This essentially means the experience should be motion sick proof whilst being graphically immense. All good stuff, but isn’t the release of the Neo a little too convenient on the same day as the VR unit? Sony has stated they won’t have Neo exclusive titles, I believe that from a standard PS4 perspective, as that’s a little too obvious and people would get the hump as you would expect. But what could be a little less obvious is if there is a big jump in the quality or experience that the Neo can offer VR compared to the PS4.
Sony have stated the Neo will have hardware more inline with the VR’s capability, so what’s to stop them having to limit the FPS or graphical detail of PS4 VR games compared to the Neo? Would an improved experience on the VR using the Neo be worth upgrading from the PS4? If you look at 4K vs HD, 4K looks better side-by-side, but in isolation on a large screen when you’re sat at least 8 feet away? Probably not something most people will spend any time thinking about. If you’ve got the PSVR doing the donkey work as well with some games, then the resources put aside for 4K in the Neo are being wasted whenever you’re using that kit. Wouldn’t it make sense to put that extra grunt in to improving the VR side of things? VR is all about the experience after all. Could it have people running for an upgrade if they saw a difference in the PSVR tech? I think this would happen, and the suspicious side of me thinks Sony will be banking on the user base making a switch, which could then make the route to specific Neo titles a little more easy to justify.