Virtual reality is really cool. I know because I’ve tried it. I would have a lot less confidence in it, however, if I were forming my opinion based on Sony’s VR stage show today.
PlayStation VR got a lot of time in front of a huge crowd and online audience at the PlayStation Experience fan event. But the virtual-reality headset got off to a shaky start with a live demo that did a better job of conveying how weird you look in VR than how cool it is to play games in a simulated reality. In Sony’s defense, this was a live stage demo, and this type of setup is notorious for breaking down. But, this is a real problem for a fledgling technology like VR, which consumers will have to spend hundreds of dollars to enjoy.
You should just see it for yourself:
Now, every company has had media-event snafus, but this wasn’t a problem just because the demonstrator, Dr. Richard Marks of Sony Computer Entertainment, couldn’t find his virtual hands. This is a problem because Sony, HTC/Valve, and Oculus — the big players in VR — have all struggled to find a way to make this tech look compelling from an outsider’s perspective. Sure, once you try it, you get it. But in 2016, these companies are going to have to sell these products to an audience where almost no one has tried the hardware before.
If HTC and Oculus were watching the PlayStation Experience event today with the hopes that Sony found an answer to this conundrum, well, they’re going to have to keep on searching themselves.