It is an age of transition for the gaming console business, with Sony potentially planning to roll out a new 4K-enabled model of the Playstation a mere 2 1/2 years into the console’s lifespan, Nintendo rumored to be collapsing handhelds and consoles into a singular platform, and Microsoft gearing up to allow online crossplay between the Xbox and other platforms. And all the while, VR looms in the near-future, promising to drive these changes even further.
Case in point: Sony is reportedly considering letting its new Playstation VR platform run on PC, potentially eliminating the need for users to also own a Playstation 4.
The news comes on the heels of another set of rumors earlier today, positing the aforementioned 4K “Playstation 4.5” might be announced this coming fall, shortly before the already announced PlayStation VR technology was set to launch. The report is based on a translation of a Nikkei report posted to Reddit, wherein Sony Computer Entertainment executive vice president Masayasu Ito is said to have described the option as a possibility owed to the PS4 and consumer PCs sharing much of the same internal architecture – while adding that the company is still primarily committed to developing PSVR games for existing Playstation formats.
However much is accurate in the report, it further highlights the limbo-like nature of the entire concept of proprietary hardware exclusivity in the current generation of console gaming. Whereas earlier eras of consoles were typically built around unique (and often highly secretive) architecture, particularly in the cartridge era, since the changeover to disc-based formats (and in particular since debut of the original Xbox) home consoles have increasingly been differentiated from PCs mainly by including programming to keep them proprietary. The exception of course being Nintendo’s continued insistence on unique control schemes to accompany each new iteration of hardware.
Even so, making the PlayStation VR PC-compatible would likely be less an admission of the PS4’s status as essentially a function-limited PC itself than an attempt by Sony to use the Playstation brand-name to aggressively move in on the burgeoning VR market. Whereas the PSVR was previously seen as a lower-priced, console-dedicated alternative to the Oculus Rift platform, PC-compatibility could turn the format into a full-on competitor to the Rift.
Left unanswered is the question of which (if any) of the PC-based content-delivery platforms PlayStation VR would interface with if it were to be compatible with a PC format. One of the main selling points to the Rift has been its readiness to work with VR titles from Steam and other go-to services for new titles. If the PlayStation VR was to be positioned as a competitor, it would likely be hampered if it were only able to run games from a proprietary PlayStation storefront. However, with Microsoft already moving to unify the PC and Console platforms of its own delivery systems, it’s possible that PC/PSVR could be part of a similar effort on Sony’s part.
Screen Rant will have more information on the Playstation VR as details are made available.