Opinion

PlayStation VR is Leading The Virtual Reality Arms Race

14 Oct , 2015  

2016 believe it or not is vastly approaching. It will be the year of VR. With what looks to be a plethora of choice available when it comes to Virtual Reality who exactly is likely to the company drawing the most success from this technological advance? Oculus? No, Sony. Whilst devices like Oculus Rift are more matured and more widely available at this present time, the entry fee to be able to use the VR device is going to be the biggest off putting part about it. If you are like the majority of gamer’s out there, you have likely picked a console as your main staple of play and allowed your desktop to idly sit by playing entry level games with enough horsepower for basic video editing. To make the jump to VR on PC requires monetary investment in not only the hardware itself, but upgrading your machine to a level that Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive will play on it.

The recommended settings for using the Oculus Rift are as follows:
NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
8GB+ RAM
Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
2x USB 3.0 ports
Windows 7 SP1 or newer

Devices such as Google Cardboard and the Samsung Gear VR are cool, but are never going to give the type of VR experience that gamers crave for, so you can rule out these releases making a huge impact, or at least an impact that hardcore video game players will be looking at. We will be picking up one of these devices over the next week to give them a real try, but at the moment the App support for them appears nothing more than a novelty at the moment.

So it is then, Sony are sitting in a perfect spot at present. The hype surrounding Playstation VR is ramping up considerably, a very small number of people have had the chance to play it at events and even Sony are making these by appointment only. With no direct console competitor, Sony can start to take a lead on this space with Microsoft remaining silent at present over it’s VR situation. Sure, we have the Hololens but already the device is potentially alienating potential developers for it by making the SDK a very expensive $3000. And one could argue that whilst HoloLens is showing off some interesting AR mechanics for it’s VR/AR hybrid device, it’s a device that is best served for the enterprise market than consumers themselves. We already hold our concerns for it with it’s field of view under current specifications not being big enough to cover the natural viewing space of the human eye.

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As it stands Sony are in cruise control and with 25,000,000 Playstation 4 units sold, even with a 50% adoption rate they can sell 12.5 million Playstation VR units, a figure that will certainly get third party developers licking their lips.

We feel Microsoft are biding their time, their loose relationship with Oculus VR does make us wonder when they will announce an official partnership to bring the Rift to Xbox One, but at the moment the channels are completely quiet on that happening. Microsoft could be waiting to see if VR adoption does take place and then pounce, something we feel could be all too late. It’s a technology that many are biting at the chomp for, but in an affordable way and personally I will be going for the device that hits the marketplace first.

What are your thoughts on the situation? Are Microsoft dragging their heels? Let us know in the comments section.

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10 Responses

  1. Paranimal says:

    I agree with this article completely on PSVR… The major issue with the X1 is that it is not capable of supporting the Oculus because of performance. X1s GPU is about half the power of the PS4s, the PS4 GPU is designed for 3D imaging from the start which is beneficial for VR. I have both systems I’m not bashing the X1 there’s nothing more than I want than Halo in VR.

    What I do think will happen is the PSVR will actually be a big enough blow to the X1 that Microsoft will have to launch a new system. I predict a much beefier system that can sufficiently support the Oculus by 2018/19 if they want to stay in the console business. Remember the X1 struggles right now with getting games to 1080p and 60fps which is a base requirement for VR and even when it does get those numbers you sacrifice other things like anti-aliasing that become much more apparent in VR. Microsoft backed themselves into a corner with the X1s GPU hopefully they stay in the console business because us the consumer benefit from strong competition .

    • Just to be clear, the Xbox One and PS4 use the same GPU’s, the only difference is that Sony used GDDR5 RAM whereas Microsoft stuck to more traditional GDDR3 RAM. The minimum requirement for VR is that the game needs to be able to run at least 75fps (on the VR headset). Any lower and the user begins to get motion sickness. With the type of games the PS4 is producing, Sony are also victims (along with Microsoft) in this area as it’s not able to hit a base of 75fps for most (if not all) of their games. The way Sony combat this is by using a technique called interpolation in Playstation VR which is how they’ve been able to achieve a more stable VR than the more demanding Oculus, while maintaining a steady frame rate. So to sum it up, the Playstation VR will be more accessible to many more gamers than the Oculus, but the Oculus produces better results as it is more detailed pixel for pixel. I do believe in the end the Oculus will be the unit of choice for many gamers but as with all things, time will tell 🙂

      • bob smith says:

        Seriously!!!
        Did you just say both the XboxOne and PS4 have the same GPU?
        Seriously!!!
        Looking at the specifications of each they are differing in far more than just the RAM type in use so please stop mis-informing people, the PS4 has the technically more superior GPU over the XboxONE in every benchmark they have been measured in.
        so how can they possible be the Same GPU’s?

        • Here’s an exert from Extreme Tech. I suggest you read the full thing and then apologise:

          “Again, by virtue of being an AMD APU, the Xbox One and PS4 GPUs are technologically very similar — with the simple difference that the PS4 GPU is larger. In PC terms, the Xbox One has a GPU that’s similar to the entry-level Bonaire GPU in the older Radeon HD 7790, while the PS4 is outfitted with the midrange Pitcairn that can be found in the HD 7870. In numerical terms, the Xbox One GPU has 12 compute units (768 shader processors), while the PS4 has 18 CUs (1152 shaders). The Xbox One is slightly ahead on GPU clock speed (853MHz vs. 800MHz for the PS4).

          In short, the PS4’s GPU is — on paper — 50% more powerful than the Xbox One. The Xbox One’s slightly higher GPU clock speed ameliorates some of the difference, but really, the PS4’s 50% higher CU count is a serious advantage for the Sony camp. Furthermore, Microsoft says that 10% of the Xbox One’s GPU is reserved for Kinect. Games on the PS4 will have a lot more available graphics power on tap. Beyond clock speeds and core counts, both GPUs are identical. They’re both based on the Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture, and thus support OpenGL 4.3, OpenCL 1.2, and Direct3D 11.2.”

          http://www.extremetech.com/gaming/156273-xbox-720-vs-ps4-vs-pc-how-the-hardware-specs-compare

          • bob smith says:

            apologise – what!!!!!
            Hahahahahaha, you are joking right?
            You have exactly proved the point that they are in fact different!!!

            The above CLEARLY tells you they are different technically and the PS4 has the superior GPU.
            You need to learn to read as clearly your comprehension is lacking, the only bit with reference to them being identical is this:
            They’re both based on the Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture, and thus support OpenGL 4.3, OpenCL 1.2, and Direct3D 11.2.”
            Other than that the gutz of the GPU’s are vastly different in the same way an Nvidia GTX980 and a GTX980 Ti are !!! Yes the layouts, Architecture, and tool support is the same but the important whizz bang of the cards is most definitely in favour of Sony’s GPU.
            Again from your post!
            In short, the PS4’s GPU is — on paper — 50% more powerful than the Xbox One.
            So identical now is when it meets your delusional interpretation of a small part of what makes the overall GPU! How can something thats 50% more powerful be identical to the lesser performing card!!!

            Christ going by your interpretation the XboxONE has the equivalent of a GTX 980 TI as that also uses GCN architecture and supports OpenGL 4.3, OpenCL 1.2, and Direct3D 11.2.

          • I wouldn’t expect a simple mind like yours to understand one simple fact: Regardless of whether the GPU’s have different peaks and troughs in spec or performance gains, at the end they both even out. It’s the fact that the PS4 has faster ram that takes it above and beyond. It’s been repeatedly reported on and by now is (or at least should) be common knowledge. Clearly only a PS4 fanboy would be so touchy on such a subject. Have a great day 😉

  2. Paranimal says:

    Here’s the point of my argument, the PS4s extra power is significant enough that when it comes to VR I don’t believe it’s possible for the X1 to handle the oculus. Especially when it’s display is even higher resolution than 1080p and most X1 titles struggle to hit 1080p especially at 60 FPS. That’s not even stereo scopic 3D which is required for VR . The PS4s GPU significantly larger than X1s there the same family of GPU but performance on PS4s is higher BECAUSE ITS LARGER… And like u said the PS4 has better ram that also boast performance.

    • You’re absolutely right, and completely agree with you. The only point I was trying to make is that the PS4 isn’t able to run games at 1080p and over 75fps (which is required for VR) so it compromised on it’s own Playstation VR unit by using interpolation which is similar if not the same as interlacing (ie. 1080i).

  3. Paranimal says:

    @armik
    PS4 is running games at 1080p 60fps in VR. Interlace and Interpolation are 2 completely different things. Interpolation is adding frames in between each frame to boost frame rate these frames aren’t exact as the real thing but approximation of the in between frames in 1080p.

    Interlace is referring to resolution, every other line is rendered back and fourth very quickly, to make it appear like its 1080p but it’s really closer to 720p this would not work well with VR. The PSVR does not use interlacing.

    The PS4 VR runs games at full 1080p 60fps then the frame rate is doubled to 120fps interpolaced 1080p. NOT 1080 interlaced.

  4. Paranimal says:

    Also the PSVR will supports games with no interpolation running both at native 90fps or even 120fps in 1080p. These games would likely not be as graphically impressive as some of the 60fps bumped to 120fps with interpolation but it will be ultra smoothed experience.

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