The big picture: Sony’s PlayStation VR (PSVR) hasn’t exactly wowed gamers, but quite frankly no VR platform has quite taken off yet. That doesn’t mean Sony is ready to throw in the VR towel. On the contrary, the company believes the PSVR only has room to grow as the technology evolves.
Sony Network Entertainment International’s Vice President and COO Shawn Layden told Game Informer in a recent interview that the next 10 years of PSVR development would be "dramatic." He compared the platform’s evolution to the adoption of smartphones. They were expensive and didn’t necessarily do everything users wanted them to do when they first emerged but eventually became mainstream.
His sentiment is true of just about every technology introduced. Granted there have been some flops that went nowhere, but of gadgets that are now in their fourth or fifth generation or higher, the ground they have covered has been vast.
"You can’t get to 5.0 until you do 1.0. It’s just the nature of the thing."
Sony sold 1.3 million PSVRs in 2018 and over 3 million since its launch in 2016. This number may not seem like much compared to the 91.6 million install base of the PS4, which is required to run the platform, but it still outsold Oculus Rift and HTC Vive according to Statista. Layden says that slow adoptions rates are mainly caused by users short attention spans and high expectations for what they think the PSVR should provide. These expectations are unreasonable for what he calls a "1.0 technology."
"With PSVR, what I like about it… there have been very few times in my career – and I have been working in technology since the late '80s – when you get to be part of a truly 1.0 experience," he said. "The problem is nowadays, people’s expectations and [attention] spans are so short. Now it’s, ‘Oh! PSVR, that’s great! When is it going to be this size?’"
Layden suggests remembering your first cell phone, then looking at the one you have now.
"You can’t look at that Nokia phone and look at your smartphone and see how you got to there," he said. "By the same token, you look at PSVR right now, none of us are going to be able to imagine what it will look like 10 years from now, but the change will be that dramatic."