Today, Eurogamer and CVG are independently reporting that Sony is planning to release a virtual reality headset for the upcoming PlayStation 4 console. According to both reports, the headset was intended for a reveal at Gamescom, but was pulled from the presentation. CVG is saying that Tokyo Game Show is the new place for the reveal, while Eurogamer is pointing to next year.
The headset is said to look like Sony's HMZ-T2, which more of a personal 3D television than a VR product. The reports say the new headset is already working with Evolution Studios' DriveClub for PS4. Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida declined to talk about the product when asked by Eurogamer and CVG.
"Y'know, we're Sony, so we have lots of different things and different ideas in R&D," Yoshida told CVG. "When it come to researching things, we are doing a lot of things that we can't talk about."
It's not surprising that Sony would want to jump into the VR space. The company is always looking for ways to pull customers into other product lines. Remember that big push for stereoscopic 3D televisions with PlayStation 3 games? This year's go is a $4,000 4K television set and accompanying $700 media center. The latter product points to a specific problem with Sony's aim here: you need the media center because there's simply no 4K content available outside of Sony's converted films. It's a tough sell for a broad range of consumers.
In contrast, the Oculus Rift has a lot of developer love right now. The company's SDK gives developers everything they need to do to create Rift-supported versions of their games. Games like Hawken, Surgeon Simulator, and CCP Games' EVE Valkyrie show the promise of the technology. I've played with it myself. With the right game - flying and racing games in my experience - it's a legitimately amazing product. The company demo-ed the Oculus Rift with Hawken and iRacing at PAX Prime this weekend; I stood near the booth for around half an hour, just gauging how the tech was doing in its first exposure to the American consumer. The entire time, I didn't find one person who didn't think it was cool.
Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe already told Edge that consoles were "not a focus" for the company, with PC and mobile being higher on the radar. When I reached out to ask Oculus about Sony's possible headset, I was told by a spokesperson that the company had no comment on the report, but is "looking forward to learning more."
With Oculus skipping consoles for the time being, Sony sees a hole in the market. Sony is looking at the Rift, looking at its existing headset product, and wondering if there's an opportunity here. A VR headset push would dovetail perfectly with the company's recent push for PC and indie developers on PlayStation platforms. It gives those developers options and keeps them focused on the PlayStation brand. DriveClub is an internal Sony product and using it as the first guinea pig for a PS4 VR headset is a probably a good idea. Knowledge from Evolution's time with the headset can be taken and given to other developers, or used to form an internal VR support team at Sony Computer Entertainment.
On paper, it all makes sense. But Sony has yet to confirm the reports, so its just very cool speculation. I'd certainly jump in on a PlayStation 4 VR headset, but I have no clue if enough gamers would to make it worthwhile for developers and Sony.