PlayStation: virtual reality revolution kicks off

Sony's console with virtual reality visor could represent the future of the gaming industry and beyond. Shawn Layden

The PlayStation VR is the world's largest virtual reality platform and its true potential will only be seen in ten years. Shawn Layden, President of Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios, is convinced of this, and in a long interview with Game Informer he talked about the world of gaming, both current and future. PSVR included.

According to Layden, PSVR is an almost perfect product, for the current technology: "We wanted to create the easiest virtual reality kit to use. If you have a PS4, it's done. You just need the headsets. It's super comfortable. It's easy to put on and take off. At most, we could have made it with fewer cords." So why is it that since its release in October 2016 it has only sold 3 million units worldwide, compared to the PS4's more than 90 million units?

A console from the future

Layden is convinced that it's only a matter of time and that the virtual reality revolution will come within a few years, with new products that we still can't even imagine: "If we look at PSVR today, none of us can imagine what it will be like in ten years, but the change will be huge. You can't do a 5.0 version if you haven't done a 1.0. It's in the nature of things."

There is, however, the issue of software, which must be developed specifically for PlayStation VR. Today, there are few titles specifically for virtual reality: one example is Astro Bot, a title that can hardly be played on a regular TV. According to Layden, VR games will also come over time: "We used to say that the PS1 was made for 3D games, but back in the days of the first PlayStation there were a lot of 2D or 2.5D games because the very idea of creating a 3D game at the time was 'how do I think of that?' Similarly, the first generation of PSVR content seems to be created for a screen and then put inside that headset. It's the nature of things. Developers are thinking about it. What does that mean? How does it work?"

Not just video games

Then Layden also explains that the technology Sony is developing for the PlayStation VR today could one day change the way movies are made: "When we brought in Hollywood producers to show them what VR could mean for movies and TV, almost all of them when they took their headsets off said, 'This explodes the narrative. How am I as a filmmaker'." And when some of them asked how to learn how to use this technology in film, Layden said, "Fortunately, there's a whole group of people who have learned how to solve this problem. The game designers."