By now you’ve probably heard the big news out of the annual Game Developers Conference — PlayStation VR launches this October for $399 US dollars.
We’ve spent the better part of a year talking about PlayStation VR from a largely technical perspective. But as cool as the technology is, it’s always going to be about the games. And that’s what has so many of us at PlayStation excited about the VR revolution. Because VR is going to change everything that we know about games, and even entertainment, on a fundamental level.
Everywhere I go I’m surrounded by veteran developers who are dazzled by the potential offered by PlayStation VR. I’ve invited some of them to provide their own perspective here:
“At Media Molecule we spend most of our effort making imaginary worlds that we want people to explore and, for a while, believe in. However there still remains a feeling that we stand on one side of the TV screen and these worlds are trapped on the other side, achingly out of reach.
“PlayStation VR lets us dissolve this barrier. The worlds we make then stop being something that you witness but something you experience.”
“For me, one of the most powerful aspects of PlayStation VR is the personal emotional connection we can create with game characters. Whether they are realistic or fantasy-looking, characters can look at you in the eyes, follow your movements, and react to your proximity in believable ways. That alone is mind-blowing and a huge evolution from traditional video games.”
“PlayStation VR is so inspiring for us as creators because it allows us to bring the experience of Until Dawn: Rush of Blood into the player’s personal space. Surrounding and immersing them completely in it and amplifying the emotion and intensity, especially for horror, way beyond what is possible via a TV screen. We can remove the barriers of interaction mechanics — this allows us to dissolve away pressing buttons and moving sticks and morph them into natural and intuitive actions for the player.”
“Day by day we are looking at original mechanics and concepts that force us to redefine many of our fundamental design philosophies. As gamers, PlayStation VR is providing us with new ways of both engaging and interacting with the medium and is fundamentally breaking the experiential barrier we’re conditioned to.
“We’re at an amazing moment in development charting new territory. We don’t really know where the limitations are and we’re probably only just seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of opportunities.”
“I am inspired by the unique opportunity that VR brings in allowing us to take players and place them in the worlds we are creating. These become more than just digital environments but real places, where players explore and interact as they would in the world, creating immersion. With this level of immersion, when we put players on an emotional journey it is enhanced and becomes truly believable, triggering the experience of genuine strong emotions.”
Our third-party development partners are equally excited about the possibilities of VR game development and its potential to transform the DNA of gaming forever.
“VR allows developers, for the first time, to empower players to become actors inside of the experience. This sense of presence — combined with unique mechanics that VR hardware like PlayStation VR allows us to create — will lead to new gaming experiences that were previously either not practical, or simply not possible.
“At Red Storm we’ve focused our games on the concept of shared presence. When a group of players see each other’s real world movements reflected in real-time, they truly feel like they are playing right next to each other, even though in reality they may be half a world apart.”
“For me, it’s that look people get after they try PlayStation VR for the first time. You can see the thrill in their eyes, still marveling at what they just saw. And on top of that there’s also this… it’s like a sense of wonder, of awe at the possibilities… It’s that look — and helping make that experience possible — that’s what inspires me as a creator.”
“Creating environments for games is about lighting, it’s about composition and leading the eye. You move this rock here and that column there until, you know… until it feels right. But in VR, you don’t have a frame, there’s no TV to frame the view.
“In VR the world is all around you, you can look anywhere and it all has to look composed and beautiful… so you have to get creative. You have to go back to real world architecture and design spaces that make sense to someone walking through them.”
“In a way, virtual reality is a total reset for developers. A typical, run-of-the-mill shooter set-piece — let’s say firing a tank turret while it drives off a cliff into an exploding blimp — would never work in VR. It’d be a cacophony, totally overwhelming, you wouldn’t be able to process it as anything but noise.
“But in VR even walking through an empty basement can be intense… on a TV that would be nothing, but when you are there… your skin starts to crawl, and when floorboard creaks behind you, your adrenal glands kick in, your fight-or-flight response takes over… it’s scary. As a designer, you have to recalibrate your expectations.”
“At CCP our goal has always been to create the most meaningful virtual worlds. With the PlayStation VR we now have a fantastic tool to accomplish that goal in a way never before possible. When you play EVE: Valkyrie you are no longer a gamer staring at a television; you are a space fighter pilot. You are there, it is real.”
Thank you for joining us on the first step on our historic journey as a company and an industry.