I’ve sat on my PSVR since buying it at launch, occasionally dusting it off when we have guests to watch their terrified reactions to Until Dawn: Rush of Blood before they tell me that they want to buy one, to which I reply: “No, you definitely don’t.”
The PlayStation VR hasn’t lived up to its lofty price tag. It is impressive technology that serves as a platform for approximately zero must-play games, but with Sony expecting its software to double in 2018, things may be on the up for the headset. With that being said, let’s take a look at the upgrades that need to happen in order for it to reach the heights it’s firmly capable of reaching:
Get rid of the Move controllers
God, these things. The Move controllers are completely outdated, but rather than making up some brand new motion controllers to coincide with the PlayStation VR’s launch, Sony instead decided to rebrand its glowing wands as the perfect tools to interact with its virtual worlds. Unfortunately, they are frustratingly imprecise and pale in comparison to those paired with the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
The PlayStation VR is not as powerful as the Vive or Rift, and Sony clearly wanted to use controllers that worked with its existing PlayStation Camera (we’ll get to that later). However, the point of VR controllers is that they should feel like an extension of your own hands, and not like you’re trying to prod your TV with two thick tree branches. While Sony understandably wants to keep costs low for its headset to present a more affordable VR alternative, controllers with a smaller and more ergonomic design would be a welcome addition.
Bundle in the PlayStation Camera
The PSVR isn’t automatically bundled with the PlayStation Camera but considering that it’s a requirement to use the headset, this is a questionable decision. The camera can be purchased on its own for around $50, or part of the PlayStation VR Starter bundle that also includes a copy of PlayStation VR Worlds.
Considering that the mini-game collection isn’t really worth anyone’s time, it’d be much more beneficial for buyers if there was a cheaper bundle that solely included the PSVR headset and PlayStation Camera. I understand that Sony wants to maximize profits by having people go out and purchase all of these accessories, but confusing them by not including essentials in with the headset has likely proven to be a barrier to entry for some prospective buyers.
Tone down the fiddliness
Virtual reality, in general, is pretty fiddly right now, and while the PSVR has a relatively painless setup (and newer models thankfully feature HDR pass-through), it can still be a headache. The number of wires required by the headset is an unfortunate necessity, with it utilizing its own processor in order to operate separately from the PS4 console. However, annoyances such as the Move controllers requiring a separate, PS3-era charger cable and the PlayStation Camera resting uneasily on top of your TV could be resolved. I can play video games in virtual reality, but I still have to sellotape a camera on top of my TV to ensure it doesn’t fall off when I move around my HDMI cables?
More PSVR games on PlayStation Plus
PlayStation Plus’s Instant Games Collection isn’t in the best state right now. With the service’s free titles mostly including outdated triple-A games or easily overlooked indie games, it isn’t exactly the most appealing selection. With the PlayStation VR library set to expand throughout 2018, Sony wheeling out free PSVR games seems like an excellent way to attract attention to the hardware.
The PSVR library isn’t exactly buried on the PlayStation Store, but it’s not as prominently featured as the non-VR games. Considering that most PS4 owners haven’t yet jumped on the VR bandwagon this is understandable, but one easy way for the PSVR to increase mindshare is for its games to be regularly included as free PlayStation Plus titles. Place them at the forefront of the PS Plus presentation and people are more likely to be intrigued by what they see, with frequent free games providing an additional incentive for people to pick up the headset.
Asymmetrical multiplayer games
Prior to the PSVR’s release, much of its marketing was centered around it being a communal experience. With buyers able to pick up and play the PSVR right out of the box after connecting it to their PS4, trailers were targeted at those who were going to hook up the headset in their living room and laugh at their family/friends trying it out. Unfortunately, few games released thus far have been tailored to this audience.
Asymmetrical multiplayer games could be a key selling point for the PSVR. Games like Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes present some of the most unique and hilarious experiences you can have in virtual reality, but there aren’t many other games like it. Having one player put on the headset and the others play using the TV could transform a games night, with it also helping to increase positive word of mouth about the headset.
The PSVR is notably lacking in vital single-player experiences, but these are difficult to pull off due to the PSVR’s technical limitations and the lack of mobility it provides. However, asymmetrical multiplayer games can provide the replayability that most of the PSVR’s library is lacking, along with providing a solid reason to pick up the hardware for those who just want to laugh at their friends flailing around in front of their TV.