sony-hmz-t1-5
Sony’s HMZ-T1 head mounted display (2011)

It seems the long rumoured Sony VR HMD is finally set to appear at this year’s Games Developer Conference in March. But will Sony now beat Oculus to the consumer marketplace?

Sony First to Consumer VR Marketplace?

TechRadar reports that Sony have a special surprise lined up for us come March 17th. It’s long anticipated VR headset is now set to arrive at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco.

Rumours have been circulating about Sony’s first foray into the virtual reality market for months. A source recently shared with Road to VR details of a prototype Sony had shown developers. This source claims to be developing software for the PS4 console explicitly for use with the rumoured VR headset. The source claimed that having tried Valve’s proof of concept HMD shown at Steam Dev Days, the Sony unit compared extremely well in terms of performance.

We now hear from the same source that it’s likely Sony will beat Oculus VR to the consumer marketplace and release the Playstation 4 virtual reality headset before the Oculus Rift consumer version hits shelves. Indeed, if Sony are ready to demonstrate finalised hardware to developers at GDC this year, the claim doesn’t sound too far fetched and would mean they’d hit the stores ready for that all important holiday season.

Are the VR Platform Wars Due to Begin at GDC 2014?

Oculus have never officially stated that they would launch their virtual reality headset in 2014 and indeed have recently seemed cautious when questioned on the subject. However, early interviews from the Oculus VR team indicated that 2014 was their release target.

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This position was later galvanised when photos of a slide deck from a presentation given by Oculus VR’s CEO Brendan Iribe show the company’s roadmap did indeed target their first commercial product (nicknamed CK1 / Consumer Kit One) to appear in Q3-Q4 2014. However, that same slide stated that we would also receive the 2nd iteration of the Oculus Rift Developer Kit (DK2) by the end of 2013, which didn’t happen.

Photo credit - PC Perspective
Photo credit – PC Perspective

Instead, as we reported recently, we may catch our first glimpse of the the new developer kit at GDC 2014. If Sony and Oculus VR do indeed choose to debut their new hardware at GDC this year, it would place the show as absolutely pivotal in the new dawn of consumer virtual reality and usher in the first VR platform war.

Rest assured, we are doing all we can to ensure that the Road to VR Collective are present at GDC 2014 ready to bring the latest VR announcements.

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Based in the UK, Paul has been immersed in interactive entertainment for the best part of 27 years and has followed advances in gaming with a passionate fervour. His obsession with graphical fidelity over the years has had him branded a ‘graphics whore’ (which he views as the highest compliment) more than once and he holds a particular candle for the dream of the ultimate immersive gaming experience. Having followed and been disappointed by the original VR explosion of the 90s, he then founded RiftVR.com to follow the new and exciting prospect of the rebirth of VR in products like the Oculus Rift. Paul joined forces with Ben to help build the new Road to VR in preparation for what he sees as VR’s coming of age over the next few years.
  • Andreas Aronsson

    It feels good to know you guys will be there :) I will abuse my F5 key when the conference opens its’ doors! Sounds like things are starting to heat up… if Sony does show finished hardware, I wonder how Oculus will react.

    I would think that Oculus already knows how far Sony has come, as at least some developer should have leaked information to them, but if that has even happened I guess it would be kept super secret :x

  • Don Gateley

    Like this wasn’t entirely predictable with Oculus’ lazy schedule?

    • Paul James

      I wouldn’t exactly call going from Kickstarter Prototype to a full, commercial product whilst revolutionising the gaming industry 2 years in your wake in under 2 years a ‘Lazy schedule’. ;)

  • Darshan Gayake

    lazy schedule is not true……see the significant progress they made from kick starter,till crystal cove. All the version were out at regular interval and all were having considerable technological jump, which is no small feat in its own regard. besides lets not forget oculus is ‘zero past’ start up they Begin with nothing…shouldn’t be compared with Sony which has HMZ T-1 ,T2 T3 that too god knows since how long Sony may be brewing up HMZ-T1 before they did commercially released one.

    As we all know Sony’s IRON LIP-LOCK policy till they don’t want thing to come to market.They also have MAMMOTH FUNDING and Multiple branches and proven past of electronic which has history. Sony is fiddling with VR from Glasstron in 1997 not VR but certainly HMD. So its really nothing to compare

    Sony products are ahead of time.See CD introduction in PS2 then BLUE RAY in PS3. HMZ T-1 was also advance when it was introduced first. still Sony also has tendency to charge way premium for what they build
    so no one can expect PS4 Glasses anywhere near 500USD it will be way more costlier.

    I am not advocating OCULUS but they have merit i too think they are perfectionist and will not release the product till they feel its worth release but that has to be balanced with market trend and product hype.

    AVEGANT GLYPH is also rising fast they have secured 600% Funding of original kick starter requirement and will shine if they could increase FOV.

  • Curtrock

    It remains to be seen what, if anything Sony brings to the table. This isn’t a race to see who gets to market 1st; this is a race to see who gets It right. VR is a lot more than just a “headset”. Does anyone really think Sony will release something to the public that has the proven ability to induce motion-sickness? Will there be a disclaimer that children under a certain age shouldn’t use their product? Will Sony make their entire Playstation catalogue avail to their VR headset, even though 99% of their games weren’t designed with VR in mind? Sony may be a powerhouse of console gaming, but VR is an entirely different monster. I find it highly unlikely that anything Sony may or may not release, is going to fundamentally change the trajectory that the Oculus Rift is on.

    • Rich Dussc

      @Curtrock

      As much as I am excited to see Sony’s VR headset I share your opinion and concerns; this would not be just an extension to the PS4, it will be a entirely different platform!
      Sony would be taking a big risk in investing in VR while they are just launching a new console. To me that feels like waging war on two fronts; having your internal studio’s making AAA games and also experimenting with this new thing called VR. Like you said; making games compatible with VR is a no-go for 99% of the titles (maybe it will work with racing games to some extend).
      But if the display is really good maybe they could make it work with their other games as well, making it function more like a big screen floating in front of you.

      By the way: I think Sony should speak up if they are not showing anything VR related at GDC this year, because the whole internet is expecting something right now :)

  • Tim Suetens

    Oculus VR brought this on themselves. This could very well be the killing blow to VR.

    If Sonyb release a sub-par product fo the console hordes, the consumer will be convinced VR sucks, and Oculus will fail as well.

    It’s over.

    • eyeandeye

      Brought what on themselves? The Rift isn’t ready yet, and even if they could release it now it would probably be just as damaging as what Sony might be doing. They’re working as fast and as hard as they can. Anyone who thinks otherwise is uninformed, and I imagine they’re the same people who would turn around and bite Oculus’ hand if Oculus released their product before it was ready in order to satisfy those people’s impatience.

      Trying to make a solid VR experience that most people can afford has to be supremely challenging to do in the time frame that everyone is demanding.

      • Darshan Gayake

        Exactly, You can’t put in market half baked product and then expect world to appreciate it for what it is not.

        Real problem is oculus did set bar to high and made people longing for it and then taking much time in giving it to them.

        Its like giving candy to a kid then take him to candy factory. show him banner of next super candy and then make him wait at closed door of factory taking too long in making it…..sure its better then giving defective candy…but that’s how people react!!

        I too support oculus for not rushing unfinished product.late the time brew the VR wine….

        • Curtrock

          @Rich Dussc, @eyeandeye, @Darshan Gayake

          These are exciting times for VR!

        • Paul James

          I doubt Oculus or Valve that the bar for entry to VR has been set to high. Oculus knows that we cannot afford another repeat of the 90s VR debacle. This has to be as good as it possibly can to achieve launch velocity, to address side effects with poor VR AND to make the biggest possible impact on the consumer when they first try the device.

          The one question I have is just how long Sony have had a VR option in development for. Although it’s likely the project was spun up in response to the threat from Oculus, it seems unlikely that they could have produced a revolutionary vr headset in such a short period of time.

          That, primarily, is why I and others are concerned. The most widely reported and publicly accessible VR headset this year may be rubbish. And we really can’t afford those sorts of mistakes.

  • Darshan Gayake

    By quoting bar to high I meant they have selected very high FOV which is though must requirement for Immersive VR selecting such high FOV has its tradeoffs when you are

    A.New born company with no financial surplus in kitty.
    B.People are not use to with kind of experience that make them disoriented.
    C.Kind of software which are build from scratch to exploit such hardware are not available.
    D.Blur, smear and judder may be deal barkers.
    D.They want all that to deliver around 300US$ which is biggest feature and hurdle (while choosing right yet economical components) both.

    Oculus did tried and addressed most of the issues till their crystal cove prototype. still they need to handle SCREEN DOOR which can become negligible once they found ideal 2K OLED (Wqhd/2560X1440 @ 5.7~6.2″) which his yet to accomplish.

    Their crystal cove prototype is near perfection except it still has screen-door. Still there are no solid AAA Titles to utilise even this (apart from EVE Vc). may be this forced them to promote and participate in to development by investing their funding too. may be they are adding fuel and thinking fire will be self sufficient once more woods from jungle will join.

    Their best practices guide is ultimate and when development gurus work out some thing religiously obeying guide. i think VR DEAD SPACE / VR BIO SHOCK /VR MASS EFFECT/ VR ELDER SCROLL franchise have power to change the history of VR gaming for sure.

    Even if sony come up with good HMD few drawbacks are confirm from Day-1

    A. Sony will lock it with their PS Environment even worst locked to PS4 ( considering not
    allowing EXPERIAs or VITAs to be attached to it – if they do so they will build grave at
    birth)
    B. Pricing HELL EXPENSIVE ( look the prices of HMZs – They don’t have tracker, they
    don’t have positional tracking, they don’t have large FoV they have bulky base
    station, they don’t offer DVI-in still ?)

  • GleninAK

    I don’t think games are the draw for VR, at least not for me and millions of other people. I can have a fun game experience and that will add to my life. What I really want and need is a Virtual Entertainment room. Something you might see in a millionaires home, but much more configurable and easily manipulatable. I am thinking of a virtual room with a “200 TV, a 200” monitor, a Messaging wall, a video chat wall, a live view of the beach in the Bahamas. In other words, something a millionaire would want, that it would take a million dollars to build, and I want it for $1000. I want a 360 degree view, I want to resize screens so I can play my favorite game, watch a movie, keep an eye on stocks, watch messages and my favorite 1980’s Rush concert at the same time. I want to control sound inputs, levels, resize screens, configure interruptions from important changes. You know, things a millionaire would do. I want to trade stocks, watch 3 different news channels, see my kids play, start a meeting at work, and visit the grand canyon. I want to be more-than-a-millionaire, not a really great gamer. Just my two cents.

    • Don Gateley

      I could not agree more enthusiastically. I have no interest in games whatsoever. It is the universe of other VR applications, e.g. touring the Temple in Jerusalem at about 30 A.D. and maybe even watching the commotion.

      When I say universe, I mean universe. The uses are endless. Google Street View on the Oculus is an incredible experience and it is by no means optimized. “Walking” around in my home town was uncanny not only for the scary reality of the experience but for how little it has changed in 50 years. :-)