Sony is reportedly gearing up to reveal its own custom-built head-mounted display (HMD) during TGS 2013 later this month. The device was originally scheduled to be showcased during Gamescom, but sources claim those plans fell through at the last minute. As it stands now, it looks as if Sony will only market this device as a PlayStation 4 peripheral, but it's unknown if the HMD will be promoted as a key differentiator, or as a non-essential add-on.
Development of the unannounced HMD has been complicated by the growing industry support for Oculus Rift. That seemingly indicates Sony may also be considering support for Windows-based desktops given that Oculus really isn't targeting the console crowd with Rift: it's a desktop-focused device that may eventually support tablets and smartphones.
Then again, with the industry leading towards an ideal hardware set such as the Oculus Rift, it may be quite difficult to produce a similar yet different "competitor." Sources claim that Sony and Oculus have actually sought out a partnership over the last several months. Given the PC-based design of the PlayStation 4, it wouldn't be surprising if Sony licensed the Rift tech out and implemented its own PlayStation-focused features.
An unnamed games developer close to Sony's HMD project claims that Evolution Studios is already working with the device to simulate a cockpit view for the PlayStation 4 game Drive Club. Another unnamed developer claims the device resembles the 3D headset Sony first revealed back in January 2011. The HMD will be sold separately like the new PlayStation Eye so that the base console price remains low.
Back in August, Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida hinted to CVG that the company was currently working on an HMD. "Y'know, we're Sony, so we have lots of different things and different ideas in R&D," he said. "When it comes to researching things, we are doing a lot of things that we can't talk about."
This device is not to be confused with Sony's HMZ series of Personal 3D Viewers that are just that: personal viewers for watching 2D and 3D content. The HMZ-T1 currently retails for over $670 USD, not a price point Sony will want for an HMD focused solely on game immersion. Users of this device see the equivalent of a 150 inch screen from 12 feet away, and are engulfed in 5.1 channel surround sound. Head tracking doesn't seem to be part of the equation.
The PlayStation 4 is slated to arrive in North America and Canada on November 15, and on November 29 in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
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Please can you clarify what this means? If it can't track head movements then how can you use it to look around the 'cockpit' in DriveClub?
Actually since when have cars had cockpits? :)
I would play the safe bet, and not put weight into speculations at this point in time. There's no telling who knows what, and stuff like this tends to get out of hand. It was also reported today by CVG that Sony has decided not to have a showing at TGS this year.
*edit* Also the "Head tracking doesn't seem to be part of the equation." part seems to be in reference to the currently available HMZ line of media head-mounted displays, which do not have head tracking.
However, this Sony head mounted display has the advantage in actually being able to make it to market. Oculus' use of crowd funding makes me more than a little skeptical that the Oculus Rift will ever be available at the consumer level at or even close to their target price of $300. The developer version doesn't have to be profitable. The consumer version does.
I'm thinking a guy like Carmack would not be so involved in the early days, and then end up taking a CTO position with the company if the possibility of the Rift making it to market was unlikely. Yes, it is crowd sourced, but it has been very successful in doing so. I have yet to see any report that the Rift is in any sort of danger, or that progress has stalled due to a lack of funds. Sure, they don't have the pockets of Sony's R&D that could bang it out in 9 months, but the company has always seemed pretty happy with where they are at and the pace at which it is developing. I also think the time they have taken so far has more to do with getting software and developer support to a level that they want it to be at, and not so much about not having the funds to push the hardware forward. Sony on the other hand, would be just as happy throwing mega bucks at a headset to make the hardware great, get it out by Christmas, and then end up have extremely little support for the device, just like 99% of all $100+ add on peripherals for consoles.
If the partnership that the article mentions is true, I think Sony could do well working with Oculus to license tech for a PS4 headset. The Oculus team have tons of man hours testing, tweaking, tuning, and getting feedback from a wide range of users and developers. From talking to my friend in the industry that has first hand experience using the Rift, he has said nothing but amazing things about it, and that that only "drawback" is the current screen resolution and a bit of ghosting. All of which a company like Sony could easily fix by implementing their own HD screens. At the same time, licensing can give the Oculus more than just the crowd funding to do bigger things.
I'm really excited for the Rift! And I'm sure I'll be at least following the progress of this Sony HMD.
But good job confusing people, whoever wrote the article.
This echoes my feelings on this almost exactly. The Rift has garnered amazing support, not only from potential customers and backers through the kickstarter, but from the industry. Bringing somebody like John Carmack onto the project is a massive boon to them and given the level of support from all angles I have no doubt that they will make it to market. Will it be profitable at $300? It is using mostly off the shelf hardware, so I think that it is doable. The profit margin will likely be very tight for them at first, but it will be there.
Hoping Sony is licensing Rift tech as well, that would be incredible and would give the Oculus team a HUGE inroad with the console market. The Rift is already a very hot topic, having their tech in console OEM devices would guarantee a lot of user buy in. However, I am hoping for something more along the lines of actual Rift support on the PS4 and XB180 in the future. Or, at least cross compatability with the PC on the OEM devices. (More likely to happen from M$ than Sony, but stranger things have happened)
Also, from what I have heard, the latest prototypes (with a combined resolution of 1080p) have solved the ghosting issues and provide far superior image quality than the current developer kits. I am definitely waiting for the consumer device, even though it is incredibly tempting to order a development kit now.
If the PS4's HMD comes anywhere close to the Rift it will be a huge hit, and could actually open up the market even more for the Rift. Exciting times ahead, indeed.