Sony today announced that a new generation of PlayStation VR hardware, including a new controller specifically designed for VR, will be available sometime later this year.
The short announcement only contains details and does not include any photos or prototypes of the new headset or controller. But it does mention that the next-generation PlayStation VR will have a higher resolution and field of view than the 2016 original, while the 2016 original will stay at the outdated 1920×1080 resolution.
In terms of background, the Oculus Quest 2, which was priced at $299 last year, has a total resolution of 3664×1600. This is an unrestricted standalone headset with much less power than the PS5. Valve’s high-end Index headset has a 135-degree field of view, which is much wider than the ~100-degree field on the PSVR (however, cheaper modern headsets usually have a field of view close to 90 to 100 degrees).
Sony said that in addition to the redesigned ergonomics, the next-generation PSVR controller “will also integrate some key functions in the DualSense wireless controller.” These may include precise touch, variable resistance triggers and clear Built-in speakers, these speakers have played a huge role in some standard PS5 games.
This will be a big improvement over the PlayStation Move controller currently used for hand tracking in many PSVR games. They were first introduced in 2010, and long before consumer-level VR became a concern, they were generally considered to be more accurate answers to the manual control of Nintendo Wii and Xbox Kinect for flat games. Controllers designed specifically for VR can improve fidelity even without the need for external cameras for tracking.
Existing PlayStation VR owners can currently use headsets and controllers with PlayStation 5, but doing so requires a special adapter to connect to the aging PS4 camera (PS5’s own “PlayStation HD camera” is not compatible with the current PlayStation VR ). Ars’ tests at system startup also found that PSVR games usually do not have a significant increase in fidelity on PS5 like some other backward compatible games.
Before today, Sony would not comment directly on the future of virtual reality hardware on the PS5. PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan told the Washington Post in October: “PlayStation believes in VR. Sony believes in VR, and we absolutely believe that at some point in the future, VR will represent an important part of interactive entertainment. Will it be this year? No, next year? No, but will it reach a certain stage? We believe this.”
After Sony’s sales exceeded 4.2 million in early 2019, it has sold 5 million PlayStation VR headsets since 2016. This makes PSVR one of the best-selling VR headsets in general to date, although aging hardware has been severely sold off by Oculus in recent months. According to the estimates of the analysis company Superdata, it is an independent Quest headset.