Virtual reality is poised to be a big topic next week at the Game Developers Conference, and now one of the key players has spoken up to say the time is right for VR to really take off. Shawn Layden, the president of Sony Computer Entertainment America, discussed the potential of VR on the latest Playstation Blogcast and teased that Sony will make some announcements about PlayStation VR next week during GDC.
“We’re going to have a lot of things to talk about in that regard at the Game Developers Conference coming up soon in San Francisco,” he said. Sony has a PlayStation VR event scheduled for Tuesday, March 15.
Two of the biggest remaining questions about the PlayStation 4 headset are around its price and release date. It’s possible Sony will finally answer those questions next week at GDC, but as of yet this is unconfirmed. Whatever the case, Layden is clearly excited about VR’s potential.
“It’s a perfect storm now for VR technology,” he said. “It’s a concept that’s been kicking around for quite some time. Some of us remember Virtual Boy way back in the day and a lot of different companies have had a go at virtual reality technology.
“I think right now we have a combination of the necessary processing power and graphics power inside the machine,” he added. “We have the display technology which can realize these images at a fidelity which looks natural, if you will. And we have the production technology to create a headset and a rig that is well-suited for the human head that won’t create a tiresome experience.”
With all of these elements combined, “I think now is the time for VR; its time has come,” Layden said. Not only does VR stand to impact the gaming space (Layden said he foresees new genres and categories coming to bear), but other fields of entertainment such as film will move forward with VR.
The introduction of PlayStation VR (and Oculus Rift and HTC Vive) this year may turn out to be a watershed moment for virtual reality.
“VR can be to console gaming like smartphones are to feature phones. That leap,” he said. “When the smartphone came out, it’s like, ‘Well, it’s an iPod but I can make a phone call; what does that mean?’ We had no idea then what it would mean to us now. And I think, looking five years into the future, we’re going to look back on today and say, ‘Wow, there’s so much we didn’t know that VR was going to do for us but we do know it now.”