Virtual reality is not limited to placing a screen in front of our eyes but it is a medium in itself with its own standards but which has not quite taken off, especially if we take into account the promise of a bright future in the mass market, a promise that seems to have been half-let down due to the fact that adoption of VR is limited at best.
If the PC is the platform on which new technologies are integrated into the market, in games, it is on consoles where these technologies are standardized for the mass market. But has VR managed to standardize on consoles after Sony’s attempt, how is virtual reality presented on PS5 and Xbox Series?
The commercial fiasco of virtual reality on consoles
If you ask people about virtual reality on consoles, the first thing they’ll tell you is that PlayStation VR is a hit, but they won’t tell you that it hasn’t had any rivals in the console market. since neither Nintendo nor Microsoft had their answers to PlayStation VR.
At the start of last year, SONY had sold 5 million PlayStation VRs globally, which means that around 5% of PlayStation 4 users have purchased Sony virtual reality glasses for their consoles, so no fear. to be wrong, it is clear that this is a business fiasco for SONY. And it should be clarified that something is a commercial fiasco has nothing to do with its product quality but with the acceptance of the general public.
The truth is, VR was very fair in the previous generation consoles, so Microsoft, which had a slightly less powerful Xbox One, decided not to bet, but it also didn’t with its Xbox. One X, despite the fact that they initially announced that the most powerful of their consoles would support virtual reality.
The VR performance problem on the previous generation of consoles
To understand what the problem is with virtual reality, you have to take into account a concept called telepresence, which consists in making the viewer’s brain believe that it is in this place, because the trick is to make the time in which one performs the action until we see the response the retina of our eyes should spend less than 20ms.
This means that we have to be able to render a scene in a much shorter time than the classic 16.67ms for a 60fps game because we also have to take into account the time at which the image was sent to the LCD screen. of the virtual reality unit.
The principle is the same as that of playing in the cloud, to get the same visual quality in Virtual Reality combined with the feeling of presence you need a lot of power and it turns out that the previous generation of consoles was a little short, which led to the opinion In general, the next one would be the definitive jump to virtual reality, a jump that certainly did not happen and one really wonders if it will happen.
How is virtual reality on PS5 and Xbox Series S / X?
Neither SONY nor Microsoft have announced anything related to virtual reality, in the case of SONY they are supposed to have a new version of their PlayStation VR in development if you pay attention to the existence of certain patents. , but patents should not be translated into finished products. As for Microsoft, we haven’t seen anything announced, not even support for Windows Mixed Reality headsets.
That’s not to say that we won’t see VR units in the future, but at the moment nothing is announced and in the case of SONY, which has a product, it doesn’t look like they will take the PlayStation VR off the ground despite the improvement. on the material. But we can not forget that in the case of the SONY console, the games run in legacy mode, not taking advantage of all the power and there is no visual improvement for them.
So the bet on VR sucks in the new generation of consoles and the outlook is bleak in that regard, and no, it’s not about seeing the glass half empty or being totally pessimistic, but rather establish a reality that everyone suddenly seems to have forgotten.
Where is low cost virtual reality for PS5?
When the PlayStation 5 was first presented on a physical level, there was one port that caught our attention, a USB-C port.
That was enough to imagine a low-cost version of the PlayStation VR, which we only had to connect to this port in the hope that it was the Alt-DP type. If you’ve had a PlayStation VR, you’ll know ahead of time what a mess of cables it causes when you need a mid-box.
But the USB-C port is 10Gbps Superspeed USB type, it doesn’t even support Display Port via USB-C, but it doesn’t have enough bandwidth to transmit data to a virtual reality headset, not even the original PlayStation VR.
But this is not the only negative point, the new SONY camera for PS5 is not compatible with the current PlayStation VR and it is necessary to buy the old camera, which also requires a special adapter because the USB port modified that he was using was not available. found on PS5, adding additional cost.
The fact that PSVR games cannot be adapted to take advantage of the new camera is because officially at the SDK level, and at least for now, PlayStation VR games are considered to be games of the previous generation. This means either that there is an improved version optimized for PS5, or that SONY has decided to shut down the business for good and will wait for the console to sell off stocks to announce the end of its VR adventure.
And what about the Xbox Series S / X?
In Microsoft’s case, its commitment to VR was nil in the previous generation, but we don’t think that in the case of the VR bet, Microsoft will develop its own glasses, but rather that it can give compatibility to a specific model made by a third party of Windows Mixed Reality and rename them under the Xbox brand, of course, provided that it fits into Microsoft’s future plans for Xbox.
What Microsoft has done is to eliminate the code separation between PC and Xbox in the new generation, before it is necessary to adapt and make certain changes in games, in the case of the Xbox Series. X / S which is no longer needed and in reality it running is the Windows version with an associated config file, this should make it much easier to port VR games to the next generation Xbox.
This has led that in some games like Flight Simulator on PC where virtual reality will be supported, some believe that we will unequivocally see a virtual reality headset on Xbox, when one thing has nothing to do with the other. . Also, from Microsoft’s perspective, they have information about the viability of the virtual reality market.
Seeing the huge success of the PlayStation VR in recent years from Microsoft, they have a benchmark on the level of acceptance of virtual reality and since they have not spoken about it at any time, we can conclude that they are not going. not bet on virtual reality.
The PC is the solution for virtual reality
In the end, the conclusion is that if you want to enjoy virtual reality, it is better to bet on the PC because it is the only platform on which VR not only has a face and eyes but also a future. So if you are saving up to do a setup for virtual reality and want to have the best experience with this medium, your best bet is to set up a virtual reality focused personal computer and not wait for something that is not even not officially announced.
Mainly because virtual reality on PS5 and Xbox Series is conspicuous by its absence, since it’s something that nobody talks about and not only the media but also the manufacturers, so it’s the elephant in the room that’s there but which no one wants to see. And it is that neither SONY nor Microsoft have any interest in virtual reality in their next generation consoles.