Sony recently announced that Project Morpheus is now known as PlayStation VR, and while the name doesn’t exactly inspire a lot of creativity, it is simple and clean and conveys that this is platform exclusive to PlayStation.
But is that the right way to go?
We’re not sure we’re sold on it either way, to be honest, but there are a few points to consider.
If Sony is not including its external PlayStation branding in this play (PlayStation Mobile, for example), then the name PlayStation VR makes a lot of sense. It lets Sony clearly and concretely show that this new VR platform is for PlayStation gamers and them alone.
As a larger branding play, and perhaps to gain market share, wouldn’t it make sense if PlayStation VR could be adapted to the PC? It wouldn’t necessarily dilute its exclusivity, but what it could do is ensure that people have a choice to use the headset with their current PC setup, knowing they could use it with that PS4 they plan to buy next year as well. Oculus will never be able to do that unless Microsoft suddenly lets them integrate Rift with Xbox One. Given that Microsoft is pushing its own technology with HoloLens, we’re not sure that would ever happen.
Speaking of Oculus, it may also stifle a few Rift sales if Sony’s headset isn’t completely platform-exclusive. We’d bet that more people would buy a PlayStation VR headset over an Oculus Rift if they’re both available on PC, especially because all accounts of the Rift’s price has it soaring far above what Sony is likely to charge for PlayStation VR.
Of course, Sony doesn’t even dabble in the PC space, let alone make hardware for it in the way that Microsoft, for example, does with its controllers. And while Sony could easily unlock the functionality of its universally-lauded DualShock 4 to work natively on PCs, why would it? Sony doesn’t have (or want) any first-party studios working on PC titles; they want them for the PlayStation 4.
It may also be a huge technical burden. We don’t know how the current VR solutions out there would work together. Is it as simple as PlayStation VR just working on a game designed for Oculus Rift, assuming they’re both on the same platform? Unlikely. Each device will have its own latency and specifications making it difficult, if even possible, to just swap out headsets.
PlayStation is doing fantastically well in terms of sales and customer satisfaction. While we’re not sure the Holiday 2015 season is going to be Sony’s year (read why here), with the onslaught of titles coming out in 2016, if PlayStation VR joins the pack, it could very well solidify PlayStation 4’s lead by so much, it would be impossible for Xbox One to catch up, even with Oculus buying up all those Xbox One controllers.
Is PlayStation VR the right branding for Project Morpheus? It could be. As Sony continues to pad its lead and strengthen the PlayStation brand, it probably is. But with the different competition out there, should Sony be considering how it can market its VR solution to customers who don’t have a PS4, or is it more important to get everyone into the PlayStation ecosystem and keep them there?
This will all shake out over the next few months and years, it seems, and with so many unknowns about price, release date, and an actual list of games for both Rift and PlayStation VR, all of this may become moot as new information becomes available.