Sony may have leaked the official specs for its long-rumored, next-generation PlayStation VR headset, the first significant indication that virtual reality will be a consideration for new consoles. Sony's upcoming PlayStation 5 is expected to revolutionize what kinds of VR experiences video game consoles are capable of, and this new PSVR hardware might even offer a more affordable alternative than what we're used to seeing.
The screen-making conglomerate Japan Display Inc. (JDI) announced Monday that it will begin producing a new model of VR “glasses” that will use LCD displays instead of more costly OLED screens. JDI is a joint venture by Sony, Toshiba, and Hitachi that used to supply LCD screens to Nintendo for its Switch consoles, and this new tech will very likely be the basis of new PSVR hardware.
The new headset model will tout a resolution of 3,200 x 1,600 (up from 1,920 x 1,080) and its use of LCD screens could spare gamers’ wallets, despite a major spec upgrade. LCD screens have been around since the late 1960s, and manufacturing them has become cheaper and more streamlined since. OLED screens, on the other hand, have become the new norm for smartphones and most VR devices. They're capable of brighter and darker colors but are much more expensive to produce.
A swap in screen type could let Sony price its PSVR 2 hardware near or at the current price of its current VR headset: $299. That might tempt gamers with a more affordable alternative to a state-of-the-art PC and additional VR equipment that they’d otherwise need to play AAA games in virtual reality. While the cost of most other VR headsets presumably rise, the PSVR 2 might emerge as the cheapest option.
JDI’s announcement comes just a week after Bloomberg published a report stating Sony is working on a follow-up to its PSVR equipment. Anonymous sources familiar with the company’s next-gen console plans revealed that a new VR headset is “tentatively scheduled after the PS5 goes on sale.”
Sony has also filed multiple patents hinting that it’s working on new VR equipment to complement its upcoming console. Many of these published blueprints suggest that the headset might be completely wireless, which would eliminate the worry about tripping over wires when gamers are playing VR. JDI’s announcement only mentioned the new display technology it’s working on and not how the headset would work with a computer or gaming console.
Alleged leaks of the PSVR 2 headset also suggest it might cost as little as $250. That optimistic price prediction could be genuine if Sony is opting for LCD displays instead of OLED. That should come as a relief to PlayStation fans after the aforementioned Bloomberg report also suggested the PS5 could be more expensive than any previous console.
It seems like Sony is striving to make VR more accessible than ever in the next generation of consoles, but will that help it compete with the Xbox Series X?
The PS5 is expected to be released before the 2020 holidays.