Virtual reality (VR) always felt like a risk to many in the run-up to consumer versions and retail launches. This is not surprising considering the history of its first generation of technology. To many, of course, this still rings true. It is a technology not yet fully realised, with developers and researchers still learning its capabilities and the base technology updating and upgrading all the time.
That said, we’re now in a position where we have multiple competent head-mounted displays (HMDs) for sale based on mobile and PC with more on the way for each. Each bringing their own take on what improving VR for the consumer and adding new ideas to the creative mix. The console market is of course covered too, by the PlayStation VR. And three months after it released at retail the facts and figures are in – and they’re very favourable for Sony Interactive Entertainment’s headset.
In fact over 1,000 consumers have now reviewed the HMD on Amazon.com and the US website for Best Buy and according to a released report by technology research and analysis firm and Strategy Analytics it has found favour with the vast majority of owners. Securing an average 4.6 out of 5 – the equivalent of 92%. This is yet another piece of good news for SIE, following the reveal that the demand for the PlayStation VR tracking ahead of expectations, a level of demand that Sony admitted they were actually surprised by it.
“The exceptional reception the PSVR has had bodes well for Sony in the console wars, and for its publisher and developer partners who have committed significant resources on what many people saw as an uncertain technology.” Explains David MacQueen, the Executive Director of the Virtual Reality Ecosystem research program. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that consumers seem to have fallen in love with it, since ‘love’ is mentioned nearly 200 times, and an unprecedented 73% of the reviews gave the device 5 stars out of 5. Naturally, a lot of the reviews mentioned specific games, and the software ecosystem is a key part of the PSVR’s success. Beyond that, it’s also worth noting that the PSVR scored highly for comfort (94 mentions) and ease of set up (80 mentions). The market for VR hardware is becoming more mainstream; it is important that factors such as these are taken into consideration by other vendors who might look to replicate Sony’s success.”
As might be expected the majority of complaints about the PlayStation VR centred around nausea and related sim sickness terms, as Strategy Analytics’s Vice President David Kerr added a more cautious tone. “There were some concerns raised by consumers. The majority of complaints centred on nausea. Key words used were sickness, nausea, sick, headache and vertigo. Overall, 108 reviews mentioned these key words, although only 79 in a negative context (the other 29 mentioned this as a concern but noted not experiencing such side effects). Complaints of a blurry or pixelated screen were the second most common complaint, and this may impact nausea. But technical specifications may not be the only solution – many of the mentions of nausea also mentioned specific games, so the industry should be aware that VR software design can also influence hardware usability.”
Of course there is no magic pill to prevent sickness, although research is, is of course, continuing into ways to reduce the issue and various developers are already employing a number of comfort related measures in dealing with movement to minimise discomfort. Regardless of the negatives this is yet another big positive for VR as a whole, and not just for SIE.
This post was originally written by the author for VRFocus.