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Sony reveals VR headset for PlayStation 4 at GDC 2014

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Posted on March 18, 2014 AT 07:59pm

An open game-industry secret has finally been confirmed at GDC 2014: Sony’s PlayStation 4 will get a virtual-reality headset.

At a panel tonight, Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida announced the VR headset peripheral, currently codenamed Project Morpheus. Sony has pulled members from their R&D departments from all over the world to create the headset, which Yoshida said has been in development for more than three years.

Player immersion was a focal point of Yoshida’s speech. “Nothing elevates the level of immersion better than VR,” he said during the announcement, before stressing that Morpheus is still in the prototype phase. The list of developers currently working on support for Morpheus includes Epic, Crytek, Unity, Havok, and Silicon Studio.

Dr. Richard Marks, part of R&D at Sony Computer Entertainment, then took the stage to explain that the six core pillars of Project Morpheus are sight, sound, tracking, control, ease of use, and content. By hitting those, Marks said, Sony believes the headset can be viable in today’s market.

Marks also talked about using the VR technology for non-gaming applications, whether it’s mundane tasks or even collaborations with NASA. “We want to create new experiences for our PlayStation owners so that when NASA gets to a new place, everyone with a PlayStation can feel what it’s like to be there,” he noted.

Anton Mikhailov, also part of Sony R&D, spoke next and claimed that with Project Morpheus, the rules for game development are different. He explained that typical game art will look out of place in VR, requiring low latency, high framerate, and cleanly rendered images to optimize immersion.

Mikhailov echoed Marks and reiterated that VR can be used for more than games—even though that’s Sony’s focus right now, of course— citing the potential of the horror genre specifically. One thing players shouldn’t fear? Mikhailov promises the headset will fit over glasses if necessary.

The current Morpheus dev kit has a 1080p display and a 90-degree field of view (slightly more if you don’t wear glasses). It also supports a full 360 degrees of movement and is designed for comfort during prolonged use. While the headset is wired to the PS4 in the prototype, Yoshida noted that could change. “We’re investigating other solutions; obviously, everyone wants it to be wireless,” he said.

Morpheus also mirrors the experience onto a TV so that users can play party games, with one player using the headset and others with DualShocks or the PS Move. As a part of their GDC reveal, Sony will be showing off CCP’s EVE Valkyrie, along with a specially designed VR section of Thief, both of which have been designed for use with Project Morpheus.

No potential date or prices for retail have been announced, since Morpheus is still in the prototype phase.

Ray Carsillo, Reviews Editor
Ray Carsillo has extensive roots in geek culture, as he’s written about videogames, comics, and movies for such outlets as Newsday.com, ESPNNewYork.com, Classic Game Room on YouTube, Collider.com, and Comicvine.com before finally settling into his role as EGM’s reviews editor. His main goal in life? To become king of all geek media, of course! Follow Ray’s exploits on Twitter: @RayCarsillo. Meet the rest of the crew.

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