VR headsets are cropping up everywhere, and every tech company is looking to the future of these devices as the next big moneymaker. At a recent conference in Tokyo, the president of Sony Interactive Entertainment spoke to investors about the corporation's strategy in the virtual reality market. Andrew House, who enthused over VR and Sony's plans for the technology at E3 recently, reiterated the potential marketability and unknown factors involved in the emerging field of VR gaming. Key points included the necessity of popularizing headset games as an alternative or extension of traditional console or PC gaming, Sony's commitment to allowing most future products to be playable without needing VR gear, and the possible uses of VR in non-gaming applications.
Many companies are vying to get a head start in establishing themselves as competitors in the headset market, and they all have a vested interest in ensuring that consumers see that product as an accessible entertainment option. This is one goal Sony won't have any trouble cooperating with other companies on. We can all probably agree that as the development of these systems ramps up, more marketing campaigns will be underway from left and right to bring the technology mainstream. With Facebook now in possession of the Oculus brand, most people will likely be unable to escape the marketing saturation.
House spoke as well about compatibility between future products and systems that lack access to VR headsets. He promised that the bulk of games will still be usable with only ordinary PlayStation controllers, and only a few absolutely requiring the PlayStation VR headset to enjoy. Obviously, most people would enjoy the virtual experience more, but for those unable to use or afford VR peripherals, there will still be accessibility. Some will require headsets, or other equipment such as the PlayStation Move in order to be fully usable.
Some insinuations were also floated for other uses of VR, like educational software or sportscasting. House sees the potential of VR as extending beyond triple-A gaming, both in that it could be used in these alternative fields, and in that smaller studios might be able to build a strong experience which resonates with users better through virtual reality:
What has encouraged me is that there’s an opportunity for smaller developers with simpler game mechanics that are very well crafted for the VR experience to have more of a significant presence than they would have on a blockbuster console. It’s intriguing.
Sony is well-positioned in the virtual market, with the most established gaming brand this generation. Its main competitors are the HTC Vive and the Oculus, both smaller companies with less industry experience, and Sony's connections to the gaming market and potential for exclusivity with their console products gives them a headstart into the market. Their intentions for the technology will likely be influential for the future of VR.