Why Project Morpheus Is The Future
Every month in Play Magazine, we take a hot topic and look at the arguments for and against. The future of VR and Project Morpheus is the subject of debate this time. Last week, Retro Gamer Editor Darran Jones argued that Project Morpheus is destined to be yet another failed gimmick. Here’s Play Editor Luke Albigés on why, on the contrary, VR is the future.
Just like with every other peripheral-based glimpse of the future, VR excites me. I don’t care that the first wave of demos and games are unlikely to be perfect virtual reality experiences – I just want to be there on the front lines to get an advance preview of the future of gaming. It won’t be great to begin with. These things never are. But without the baby steps into VR that we’re going to see over the next few years, gaming simply isn’t going to grow and evolve in any meaningful way. Games will get bigger, of course. They’ll get prettier. But ultimately, the way in which we interact with them isn’t going to change unless we get on board with the idea of embracing new experiences whenever they come along rather than dismissing them before they even have a chance to hit their stride.
The most important thing to bear in mind here is that VR isn’t something that can just be slapped on top of existing games. The best virtual reality experiences will be those designed specifically with this level of immersion in mind, but it’s not even like existing games can be quickly or easily patched for VR support. Whereas many modern games choose visual fidelity over top-end frame-rates and resolutions, that simply isn’t an option when it comes to VR. If things aren’t silky smooth and crystal clear, players will quickly grow nauseous due to the disconnect between real world and virtual movement, and getting games running for this isn’t going to be an easy task. The 1080p display is right in front of your face, after all, so any and all imperfections are going to leap off the screen. You’re not going to be able to simply strap on the headset and jump into magically VR-ified versions of your favourite games – these will be bespoke, tailor-made experiences, and that’s definitely for the best.
As cool as the tech may be, any fool can see that it isn’t something that be applied to all genres. What could games like Street Fighter, Peggle or Resogun possibly hope to achieve by embracing VR? The more abstract the concept, the less it will fit the VR vision and generally speaking, it’s only first-person experiences that truly stand to benefit from this added level of immersion. Again, then, VR represents a new way to play and one that will not meddle too much in the existing experiences that you know and love. It’s optional, it’s forward-thinking and it’s all kinds of cool.
As with any new tech, pricing is likely to be a serious issue in the early days. While Sony has yet to confirm a price point for Morpheus, predictions from the industry place it at a similar cost to the console itself. While some people will happily cough up for an up-close look at gaming’s future, peripherals and expansions that cost almost the same at the hardware they complement haven’t historically done terribly well. Morpheus is inevitably going to be a hard sell for Sony – unlike traditional games and hardware, this isn’t something you can show off with screens or videos, rather something you have to experience first-hand in order to truly appreciate. This is the future, people. And while my first foray into the world of VR made it perfectly clear that we’re not there yet, it’s still a bloody interesting road we’re walking right now.