Sony has finally announced a price and a release date for the PlayStation VR. The highly anticipated console peripheral will retail for $399, with a launch scheduled for October. The PlayStation VR is competing with the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive in the burgeoning VR gaming market. Each headset may appeal to a different audience, which is why it's important to understand the specs behind the different experiences.
The PlayStation VR took another step toward gamers' living rooms Tuesday. Sony announced the VR headset will be priced at $399. Players will need to purchase a PlayStation 4 Camera, which usually retails for $59.99 but can be found for $44 on Amazon. Unlike the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, the PlayStation VR will use the PS4 to deliver virtual reality to gamers. For consumers, that means a cheaper upfront price for a VR experience. A PS4 bundle, with a free game, retails for $349. Players can purchase additional Move controllers, Nintendo Wii-like wands, to create a more immersive experience, but they can also use the included DualShock 4 controller. The most basic setup for newcomers — the PlayStation VR, PS4 Camera and PS4 — will retail for $792. For the close to 40 million players who already have a PS4, that price will obviously be even lower.
In terms of the VR headset, the unit contains a 5.7-inch OLED panel. The resolution is 960x1080 per eye, lower than what the Rift and Vive offer. That could cause blurriness, but Sony says the 120 Hz refresh rate will make up for the lower resolution. The overall field of view, at 100 degrees, is also smaller than the Rift and Vive's.
Inside the box, players will receive the headset, a processor unit, VR headset connection cable, an HDMI cable, a USB cable, headphones and an earpiece, an AC power cord and an AC adaptor. The VR processor unit connects to the PS4 and creates a second-screen experience for other people to view on a TV screen. Bundled with the PlayStation VR as a digital download will be the "Playroom VR," a bundle of six games to show off the capabilities of the new headset.
Sony did not release a list of launch titles but did say there will be 50 games released between October and the end of 2016. Some of the content may be smaller experiences, priced around $10, to major titles. During Tuesday's announcement at the 2016 Game Developers Conference, Sony revealed that a new "Star Wars Battlefront" game will be a PlayStation VR exclusive.
Previously announced games include "EVE: Valkyrie," "Rez Infinite," "Until Dawn: Rush of Blood," "Ace Combat 7" and "Gran Turismo Sport." 230 developers and publishers have signed on to work with the PlayStation VR.
- Pros: Cheapest full VR headset, not including the Gear VR or Google Cardboard. Easy set-up. Access to PS4 library. Strong developer support.
- Cons: Lower resolution than HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. Smaller field of view. PS4 camera not included.
The Rift is the veteran of the VR group, with a headset in development since 2012. Developers have been able to test the hardware and software, which could lead to a better VR experience right at launch. With a price of $599, the Rift is the cheapest PC option for virtual reality. The Rift will be packaged with an Xbox One wireless controller, Oculus Remote, a sensor and a Rift headset. The interactive Oculus Touch controllers will ship later in 2016.
All preorders will include "EVE: Valkyrie." All Rift headsets are bundled with the game "Lucky's Tale." There will be 30 games available at launch, Oculus announced Wednesday.
In terms of resolution and field of view, the Rift is better than the PlayStation VR. The headset features 1080x1200 resolution per eye with a 110-degree field of vision. The refresh rate, 90Hz, is lower than the PlayStation VR.
Because the increased processing power necessary for a VR experience requires a pretty decent PC. Oculus recommends either a NVIDIA GTX 970 or AMD 290 graphics card or something similar. The NVIDIA graphics has a price of $319.99. The AMD 290 is priced at $299.99. The recommended Intel i5-4590 carries a price of $199.99. Getting to the recommend 8GB of RAM is a relatively inexpensive venture with a 4GB stick of memory priced under $20. If upgrading a PC is out of the question, Oculus-ready PCs start at $949.
- Pros: Cheapest PC option for VR. Longstanding developer support. Plenty of games at launch. Better resolution, field of vision than PlayStation VR.
- Cons: Upgrading your PC. Initial investment in VR. Not as powerful as the HTC Vive. Lack of Oculus Touch at launch.
The HTC Vive may be the most immersive VR experience available in 2016. The Vive headset includes a built-in phone and front-facing camera. Out of the box, users will get the headset, two wireless controllers and two 360-degree tracking and movement sensors. The internal phone lets users answer texts and take calls without leaving the virtual world. The front-facing camera, coupled with the room sensors, creates a sense of space that can't be replicated on the Rift or PlayStation VR. Players can move around their living room as part of the game or, with Google's "Tilt Brush," paint in 3D space. All that technology means the HTC Vive has a price of $799.
HTC has yet to release its full launch lineup, but the Vive will be bundled with "Fantastic Contraption," "Job Simulator" and "Tilt Brush."
The HTC Vive has the same resolution and field of vision as the Oculus Rift. PC recommendations are similar, with the HTC Vive requiring only 4GB of RAM. The graphics card and processor recommendations are the same for both headsets.
- Pros: Most advanced VR technology available in 2016. Truly immersive gameplay. Innovative experiences.
- Cons: Price. Recommended PC requirements. Space necessary to enjoy the games.