At the moment, the best and the brightest game developers from around the world are gathering in San Francisco for the 2015 Game Developers Conference. Despite the games industry being worth more than the movie industry, this is not a glitzy affair – there are no celebrities or red carpets – it’s mostly back-to-back presentations from some of the most influential people in the industry.
This year’s conference is particularly obsessed with Virtual Reality. As all the big guns start to reveal their VR hardware and software the big questions are:
Who is going to be the all-important first to market and of course?
Who’s got the best wares?
On Wednesday morning, Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida (the President of World Wide Studios) threw his hat in the ring with a modest 20 minute overview of Project Morpheus, Sony’s entry into the competitive virtual reality market. Sony has been showing off early prototypes for a year now and by all accounts Morpheus is an impressive bit of kit (even if it is spectacularly ugly).
Shuhei Yoshida announced some updated and impressive technical specifications. This means Morpheus will apparently create a strong sense of “virtual presence” (the term used to describe believable virtual experiences) and, more significantly, we will be able to buy one early next year.
2016 is a sensible target for Sony – it gives them room to slip by a month or two, gives them time to iron out the kinks and get enough units built to satisfy the 2016 holiday market.
Project Morpheus’ unique selling point is two-fold; first of all it’s a peripheral for the massively successful PlayStation 4 (currently over 20 million have sold, with a current projection of 80 million by 2019). Secondly, your hands are tracked in the virtual world via Sony’s bizarre looking, but by all accounts very effective, ‘Move’ controllers. Being able to actually see your hands in a virtual world is a huge part of grounding the experience.
Early reports from the conference floor are that the Morpheus is impressive; super comfortable to wear, intuitive to use and gives a solidly realistic 3D experience.
It will be interesting to see when the other players commit to being in market.
Barney Vollans is a Senior Digital Producer at BCM