Sony has formally unveiled its long-rumoured PlayStation virtual reality project at the 2014 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, with SCE President Shuhei Yoshida presenting a device referred to as Project Morpheus, reportedly named after the god of dreams, and not the character from The Matrix films. (via The Verge
According to The Verge's report of the event, Sony R&D chief and PlayStation Move creator Richard Marks described Sony's interested in VR as a way to "push gaming forward", noting that it's more than just games and boasting about a collaboration project underway with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "VR is going to be pervasive, and what I mean by that is it's going to be used for all sorts of things you might not think it would be used for." he said.
Marks outlined the six core areas of focus for VR on PlayStation 4 as sight, sound, tracking, control, ease of use, and content, boasting that Sony's hardware and software prowess and the PlayStation ecosystem makes them uniquely suited to tackle all of them.
The headset will work in tandem with the PlayStation Camera and PlayStation Move motion controllers, with lights on the device relaying head movement, and the VR experience will be woven seamlessly into all aspects of the PlayStation 4 UI, including the PlayStation Store.
Sony's Anton Mikhailov took the stage to further stress the importance of presence, a term often mentioned in VR to describe the various factors required to make a player feel completely immersed in the virtual experience. Mikhailov explained how Sony feels the "rules are different" in VR; that "presence trumps game design" and "player's head motion is law" stressing the importance of a tailored approach to creating VR software. "If you don't feature presence, it's not clear why you wouldn't be playing a game on a normal screen" he said.
In terms of system specifications, the presentation noted that the current prototype has a 1080p display with a 90 degree field of view. The PlayStation Camera polls at 1000Hz for the device's positional and rotation head tracking, somehow supporting a full 360 degrees of movement. A 15mm eye relief can accommodate glasses wearers, and a "wide IPD range", and the current prototype allows the user to wear their own headphones (rather than built in ones like Sony's HMZ headsets). The current Morpheus prototype is tethered by a 5 metre cable, but Sony hopes to make it wireless eventually.
As for games, Sony confirmed that an assortment of demos will be shown to attendees at GDC, and notably, that CCP's EVE Valkyrie demo that had been created for the Oculus Rift has been ported to PS4, as well as a special build of Square Enix Montreal's recently released Thief.
No kind of release window was offered during the presentation, and the response to an audience question was "as soon as possible" with a laugh.