The PS VR2 Headset is Revealed

First look: The headset design for PlayStation VR2 by Hideaki Nishino for PlayStation.Blog

I rarely embed images directly into a post here on Max Frequency, but this seemed appropriate. The four cameras have a spider-like look to them. Inside-out tracking is going to make this headset far more accurate and versatile.

PlayStation is very excited about the vent design, which I believe can be seen in the profile shot. Vents are essential in a VR headset. I only hear them on my Quest 2 when installing a game. Thanks to wearing over-ear headphones, fan noise is a nonissue.

The back headband is likely where the haptic motor is located. At the base of the skull, I am curious about the physical sensation it will provide. The back is also where the lone cable protrudes from. I am curious how long the cable will be. My gut check says 16 feet.

PlayStation says devs have their hands on dev kits. I take this as a great sign for the product. Hopefully, we see games in action this summer before release. Heck, I really hope release is this Fall.

Horizon Forbidden West – PS5 vs PS4 vs PS4 Pro – Digital Foundry

Horizon Forbidden West – PS5 vs PS4 vs PS4 Pro – Can Cross-Gen Deliver For All Gamers? by Digital Foundry on YouTube

Here was what I said at the end of my post about DF’s comparison video for Forza Horizon 5.

While it does look amazing on old hardware, I still have to imagine what the game could have been if they had dropped Xbox One support from the outset. We’ll find out with the inevitable Forza Horizon 6.

I also can’t wait to see how Sony’s development teams fare in their upcoming cross-gen titles. I have a tough time imagining scalability and performance of this caliber. Bravo Playground Games, bravo.

More credit where it is due. I am real impressed that both PS4 consoles keep a stable 30fps. I feared it would have quite a few more hiccups. The quality difference in assets is also profound. Guerrilla Games appears to have kept the experience intact, even on nearly ten-year-old hardware.

But again, you have to wonder what design and developmental decisions would have been if Horizon Forbidden West started out as a PS5-only game. I’m aware that this particular title started out as a PS4 game. That question is always lingering in my mind for these major cross-generation first-party titles. With Gran Turismo 7 and God of War: Ragnarok still on schedule for this year, I wonder how much longer the cross-generation game will be sticking around for the PS5 and Xbox Series consoles.

Sony Buys Bungie for $3.6 Billion

PlayStation: Bungie deal is about multiplatform, live-service games by Christopher Dring for GamesIndustry.biz

“The first thing to say unequivocally is that Bungie will stay an independent, multiplatform studio and publisher…”

So what is the $3.6 billion buying exactly? I’d say experience, technology, and user-base expansion. Sony is clearly moving toward a more aggressive services offering. Bungie’s decades of experience for online communities and engagement is hard-earned. Owning Bungie gives Sony access to Bungie’s in-house tech and talent for creating some of the best first-person shooter games ever. Sort of reminds me of idTech being a highlight of the ZeniMax acquisition just two years ago. There is a loot cave of game design information within the halls of Bungie.

Also, Sony just bought the entire player base of Destiny 2 and any future Bungie projects. That’s a consistent stream of revenue. I’m curious how Bungie’s existing deal with Chinese company NetEase will play into this acquisition. Whenever that game launches, those audiences will feed right into Sony — exclusive or not.

“We should absolutely expect more,” he concludes. “We are by no means done. With PlayStation, we have a long way to go.”

These purchases in the industry are far from over. Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard (I know I didn’t write about that one 😅) is just the largest flashing neon sign that says “CONSOLIDATION.” I am curious what other purchases Microsoft will make, if any. Cleaning out half of their cash for Activision Blizzard may slow major purchases for them. Maybe not. Sony definitely does not have the capital to make $68.7 billion moves, but they can apparently muster $3.6 billion here, a few billion dollars over there. Buckle up everyone.

PlayStation VR2 Specs Revealed


PlayStation VR2 and PlayStation VR2 Sense controller: the next generation of VR gaming on PS5 by Hideaki Nishino for the PlayStation Blog

Sony has provided more details on the next iteration of PlayStation VR, including officially calling it PS VR2. At CES 2022, the company provided hardware specs on the headset for the first time and the previously revealed controllers. The headset sounds great! I wanted to take a look at the specs and compare it to what I’d consider the top of the line current VR headsets — the Meta Quest 2 and the Valve Index. 

The Quest 2 is by far the most popular VR headset thanks to its wide availability and ease of use; just slide of the headset and go. The lack of friction is paramount to the Quest 2’s dominance.

The Valve Index is the powerhouse VR headset, even after nearly its release three years ago. I’ve not had the fortune of trying one out yet, but as far as I can tell, it is still the top dog in the PC space, possibly paired alongside a Quest 2 with the PC link cable.

Here’s a quick summary of those headsets main technical specifications, along with the PS VR1:

Quest 2 has a resolution of 1832 x 1920 per eye with an LCD panel. It supports 72/90/120 Hz refresh rates, with the 120 being an experimental feature as of publication. It’s Field-of-View (FOV) is 90°. The Quest 2 requires no wires for standalone play and comes with two controllers. It uses inside-out tracking via four external facing cameras to gauge where your controllers or hands are in the space. There are built-in speakers. The Quest 2 is currently sold for $299 or $399, depending on the storage size chosen. It was originally released in 2020.

Valve Index has a resolution of 1440 x 1600 per eye with an LCD panel. It supports a wider range of refresh rates at 80/90/120/144 Hz. It’s FOV is 130°. It connects to a powerful enough PC via one cable. The tracking is done with base stations, providing room-scale VR. There are built-in speakers as well. The price ranges from $500 to $1000: the headset alone costs $500, controllers $279, and a single base station costs $149 (two are required). The complete bundle costs $1,000. The Index was originally released in 2019.

PlayStation VR1 has a resolution of 960 x 1080 per eye with an OLED panel. It supports 90/120 Hz refresh rates. It’s FOV is 100°. It connects to a PS4 and a necessary processor unit. The tracking is done with lights on the headset and controllers through the 3D camera accessory for the PS4. There are no built-in speakers. The price started at $400 with no camera or controllers, but is currently bundled with the required accessories and a couple of games for $350. PlayStation VR was originally released in 2016.

The Quest 2 and Index will reach two and three years of life here in 2022, respectfully. The tech is older, especially in a rapidly developing tech space. Their viability is a testament to their design with the foresight of where this space was going in the near-future, particularly in the realm of tracking hands accurately and reducing the barrier to playing in VR.

Here are the specs for PS VR2:

PS VR2 will have a resolution of 2000 x 2040 per eye with an OLED panel, providing 4K HDR picture quality. It will support 90/120 Hz refresh rates. The FOV is 110°. It will connect directly to a PS5 via one USB-C cable. PS VR2 will have inside-out tracking and eye-tracking. It’s price is not yet announced. It does not seem to have built-in speaker, but it will have haptic feedback built into the headset as well as the new PS VR2 Sense controllers. It does not have an official release date yet, but I suspect it will be released in 2022.

The leap in technical specifications over all three of these headsets makes sense for a new consumer headset in 2022. As the technology gets better and smaller, more can fit inside a head-mounted device. 

The standout features are eye-tracking and haptics in the headset itself. I’ve yet to experience eye-tracking in a VR headset — I’m not even sure of a consumer headset capable of it — but the promise of a new, natural form of input is exciting in a literally immersive gaming experience. Moments like looking in the mirror of Batman: Arkham VR can have added realism not previously possible.

The PlayStation 5 is leaning greatly into added layers of immersion through 3D audio and the insane haptics of the DualSense. It makes sense that the new PS VR2 Sense controllers would feature similar haptics, but I was surprised to read that the headset itself will also have haptic motors in it. I am incredibly curious to feel this in action. It’s not quite a synesthesia suit, but this combined with the controllers definitely sounds like a major step forward in physical feedback.

Given how impactful the PS5’s 3D audio has been, I imagine the experience in VR will be sensational.

On paper, PS VR2 sounds like the next generation of VR, not just for Sony, but the current landscape of consumer, gaming-focused VR. Meta is hard at work on their Cambria project, which promises features like eye-tracking and face-tracking. Who knows when and if Valve will make a new generation of the Index or if that expansion slot will ever be truly tapped into. I am eager to try out PS VR2 and get my head and hands on one as soon as I can.

PlayStation Acquires Bluepoint Games

Welcoming Bluepoint Games to the PlayStation Studios family by Hermen Hulst on the PlayStation Blog

Today I’m very excited to announce that PlayStation Studios has grown again with the addition of long-time partner Bluepoint Games! From the exceptional PS5 remake of Demon’s Souls to the critically acclaimed PS4 remake of Shadow of the Colossus and remasters of fan favorites like Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, Bluepoint has built a name for itself by creating some of the highest-quality remasters and remakes in the industry.

With each of its projects, Bluepoint has raised the bar on console-defining visuals and gameplay, and the studio’s vast expertise in world building and character creation will be a huge plus for future PlayStation Studios properties.

Yours truly back in April writing about PlayStation’s blockbuster garden:

It sounds like they wanted to be Sony’s first party remake studio, at least at first. I predicted this year that Sony would buy Bluepoint Games. I still think that is a possibility and should happen. In the long run, it could be cheaper to buy the best remake studio in the business than develop one from the ground up internally. Microsoft certainly thinks it is cheaper to buy prominent studios in the long run.

And another one of my 2021 predictions has come to pass. I am having a very good year.

That’s No Moon Studio Announced, Former PlayStation Devs Behind It

Game Veterans Establish New Indie Development Studio by Trilby Beresford for The Hollywood Reporter

That’s No Moon Entertainment is led by CEO Michael Mumbauer, former head of PlayStation’s Visual Arts Group. For its debut action-adventure project, the company is backed by a $100 million investment from South Korean developer Smilegate, creators of the CrossFire first-person shooter series.

I have never heard of CrossFire, but Michael Mumbauer’s name is familiar. Mumbauer was the head of PlayStation’s Visual Arts Group, which operates as a support studio. Mumbauer reportedly wanted to remake The Last of Us as a way to get Sony’s attention and pursue standing out as its own team, remaking games and creating new ones. That did not fly. Mumbauer left Sony by the end of 2020.

This is apparently what he has been up to.

There are quite a few PlayStation dev alums at That’s No Moon. Four of the 29 current team members alone are from Naughty Dog. More hail from PlayStation (possibly the Visual Arts Group itself), Sony Santa Monica, and Bend. Others come from Bungie and Activision.

My brain immediately went to what if PlayStation entered a second-party relationship with That’s No Moon, but that sort of seems farfetched, considering how Sony treated Mumbauer’s ambitions for the Visual Arts Group. Maybe if the check is big enough and That’s No Moon keeps creative control. Whatever their game becomes, we won’t see it for a long, long time.

Sony PlayStation Revisited, Japan – DF Retro

DF Retro: Sony PlayStation Revisited – Every Launch Game Tested – Part One: Japan by Digital Foundry on YouTube

It’s DF Retro’s BIGGEST episode yet – split into three parts running in consecutive weeks. John Linneman and Audi Sorlie revisit the launch of the Sony PlayStation from its origins in Japan to its eventual rollout across the globe – and in the process, assess every single launch title in all three territories, stacking them up against other versions on other systems.

This is a rich, in-depth look at the launch of the PlayStation. While I may have been alive, I was not there for the consoles launch. This is the exact coverage we’d expect today between a PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, but between the PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Super Nintendo, and the arcade. Oh to go back in time for these launches.

Cross-Generation Games are like Movies at the Theater

It’s vital Sony maintains its PlayStation 4 support | Opinion by Christopher Dring for GamesIndustry.biz

In reality, people will want the best version of these games. Spider-Man: Miles Morales is more popular on PS5 than PS4, and that will be true of Horizon: Frozen West, Gran Turismo 7 and God of War. It’s the difference between watching the new Marvel movie at the cinema compared to getting it on Disney Plus. The hardcore fans will want the big screen experience. But as the film industry also discovered during the pandemic, there’s a huge opportunity in the TV space.

I like this analogy. Movies have totally shifted in the last year, bringing the direct-to-digital future to living rooms sooner than big theater chains ever wanted. I certainly rented my fair share in the last year. Heck, Warner Bros. bringing their movies to HBO Max on day one made me keep my subscription.

And Dring is right about people wanting the best versions. Movie theaters are opening back up. People will buy the PS5 version of Spider-Man or God of War, if they can. They may even opt to wait until they get a PS5 to buy those games (or, as I’m sure Sony hopes, double dip).

I’ve always agreed that cross-generation support makes sense, as a business, especially with an install base of 120+ million PS4 consoles.

In the bloody confusing aftermath of the PlayStation 5 stream, Sony confirmed that Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, and Horizon Forbidden West are also launching on PS4. After believing in generations it seems that Sony also believes in its PS4 install base.

It’s no secret that I have voiced concerns about Xbox’s own public promise to support cross generational support for its Xbox consoles. The wider the range of supported hardware, the more work it is for the developers and the more it can limit the upward potential of the game. Now Sony has promised three major first party titles are cross generational.

This is great (just like it is for Xbox) for those consumers that don’y want to or can’t upgrade to the next gen consoles. You aren’t left behind. Nintendo has done this before with popular Zelda titles. It is definitely a win for consumers.

I guess they should have just confirmed Gran Turismo 7 and God of War were cross-gen too.

My stance is firmly rooted in limited development potential. With such technological strides in next-gen with the SSDs, native 4K, and so on, developing games for nearly decade old hardware has to cut off forward progress and new, previously impossible ideas.

Colin Moriarty pointed out yesterday that the only first-party PS5 exclusive we know about is Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and that is out in one week. Hopefully, E3 2021 changes that soon, but man that is weird for Sony to have all these games close to the chest after the open-book that was the PS4 catalog.

I’m starting to get a little whiplash from Sony talking out of both sides of their mouth. They need to communicate a clear message. If that message is “We are supporting PS4 and PS5,” then they ought to embrace it, clearly share which games will do that, and incentivize the upgrade to PS5 beyond being new and shiny. Eventually, first-party development will leave PS4 behind and wholly focus on PS5. Sony needs to be better about communicating when that change will happen.

The Next God of War is a Cross-Generation Title

Hermen Hulst Q&A: What’s Next for PlayStation Studios – PlayStation.Blog:

Sony just published a new interview with Hermen Hulst, Head of PlayStation Studios, that has revealed some interesting bits of information, especially before E3. I want to go through the blog post and dig into Hulst’s responses.

PSB: Are you able to give us a snapshot of the total number of titles that PlayStation Studios are currently developing for PS4 or PS5?

Hermen: Well, we have a lot going on right now. PlayStation Studios have more than 25 titles in development. Almost half of these are new IP. The other half, they’re titles that are set in franchises that PlayStation fans already know and love. So, it’s quite a lot.

This number of games in development actually broke earlier in May. I have a draft here in MarsEdit of me trying to crack the numbers on these 25 games. So I’m just going to throw that here!

  • Naughty Dog likely has three projects in some form of production
  • Insomniac has three – Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, Spider-Man 2, and the rumored Sunset Overdrive port or sequel
  • San Diego with MLB the Show
  • Bend with their new project (more below)
  • Horizon Forbidden West
  • Haven with Jade Raymond
  • Firewalk Multiplayer project
  • Japan Studio/Asobi Astro new game
  • Sucker Punch with a Ghost of Tsushima sequel
  • Polyphony Gran Turismo 7
  • Media Molecule Dreams PS5 port
  • London Studio probably with a PSVR 2 title
  • Pixelopus Concrete Genie folks
  • God of War (2018) sequel and possibly that space game?
  • BluePoint’s next project?

By my estimation, I came up with 20 of the 25  games, but less than half a straight-up new IP. Speaking of new IP…

And you know, Bend Studio is working on a very exciting new IP that they’re very, very passionate about. They’re building on the deep open-world systems that they developed with Days Gone. So I’m really happy for Bend Studio.

Interesting to specifically call out Bend, especially after the reports they were sucked into Naughty Dog support for a brief period of time, which led to leadership departing the studio. Eager to see what is next for that team.

So we have, currently, two very big, very narrative-driven games in development: Horizon Forbidden West and the next God of War. And for both of those, they’re frankly affected by access to performance capture and talent. For Horizon, we think we are on track to release this holiday season. But that isn’t quite certain yet, and we’re working as hard as we can to confirm that to you as soon as we can. 

Sony seems to be keeping Horizon’s date very close to the chest. This helps explain why there was no mention of even a release window during the State of Play last week.

And for God of War, the project started a little later. So we’ve made the decision to push that game out to next year, to ensure that Santa Monica Studio can deliver the amazing God of War game that we all want to play.

This is not surprising at all. The real surprising God of War news comes next.

Where it makes sense to develop a title for both PS4 and PS5 — for Horizon Forbidden West, the next God of War, GT7 — we’ll continue looking at that. And if PS4 owners want to play that game, then they can. If they want to go on and play the PS5 version, that game will be there for them.

The cross-generational bottleneck seems to be going on for a lot longer than I had hoped. It is a shame that God of Warand Gran Turismo 7 are cross-generational, especially when they will be released nearly two years post-PS5 launch. This fundamentally limits development potential. By 2022, the PS4 will be nine years old! How can anyone hope for solid PS4 performance and next-generation pushing features when you have to bridge a base-PS4 and the PS5? It can be done, and God of War will likely run fine on PS4 and great on PS5. The real detriment is the restriction it puts on potential. If the floor for development was just the PS5, the sky is the proverbial limit. With the PS4 in play, that ceiling is much, much lower.

This interviews seems to be a mix of good news and disappointing news that PlayStation wanted out in front of E3. We won’t be seeing Bend’s new game in a couple weeks. God of War may appear, but won’t have a 2021 date and is cross-gen. It is extremely exciting to hear about 25 new games, with half being new IP. Hopefully E3 can be a brighter spot, now that some of the more disappointing news is out of the way.

Returnal’s 3D Audio is a Mechanic, Not a Feature

The King of Custom – PS5 Specs Revealed by Me March 2020

My two cents on the custom audio tech inside the PS5 when it was announced just over a year ago at GDC by Mark Cerny.

I thought the most custom element was the 3D audio tech that Mark detailed. Sony wanted to offer great audio for all players, not just those with fancy sound systems or headphones. So they went ahead and built custom hardware to help create 3D audio from any set of speakers (eventually). Headphones are the gold standard due to one speaker per ear, but Mark even talked about generating 3D audio from TV speakers. With it included in every single PS5, that gives all players and all devs the opportunity to experience/use 3D audio. It reminds me of the leap from standard definition to HD, but for our ears. Pardon the pun, but it sounds bonkers.

I’ve spent an hour or so playing Returnal with some headphones on.

Holy. Smokes.

Besides just sounding incredible, I was surprised at how intuitive and essential it was. I heard wild alien creatures whipping around me in the level. I instinctively turned toward the sound and stopped immediately on the enemy.

This was more than standard surround sound pointing me in a direction. I locked-in on the enemy with my ears before I did with my eyes or gun. In a fight-or-flight scenario, my ears did their survival job.

Then I got thinking about PSVR2 again…

When you combine these [haptic feedback and adaptive trigger] elements with the PS5’s Tempest audio engine, PSVR 2 has incredible potential to really put users in a place.

PlayStation’s pursuit of immersion this generation is off to a stellar start and promises to be a transformative addition to gameplay. I can’t wait to feel, hear, and see more.

Returnal Shows that Sony can still be Weird and Daring – Eurogamer

Returnal Shows that Sony can still be Weird and Daring by Martin Robinson for Eurogamer

This isn’t the Housemarque you might know from Resogun or Nex Machina yet it’s also exactly like those boutique classics, mixing demoscene flex with arcade precision but on a much grander scale. There’s an intensity to the action, a readability to enemies and attack patterns, an immediacy that all harks back to the hard-edged classics of the arcade, but the spectacle is something else; Robotron with raytracing, the resulting action worthy of an Amiga classic that plays out like Ridley Scott in crisp 70mm on the big screen.

I suddenly cannot wait for Returnal. Logan Moore’s incessant hype and this preview sent me from “not a care in the world” to “is it April 30 yet?

Like Death Stranding this is an indie that’s epic in scope, and likewise it’s not a game that comes up short when it comes to spectacle. Is it triple-A or isn’t it? I’m not sure if there’s a scientific way to determine that one way or another, but I can tell you that Returnal’s credits run just as long as any Hollywood movie (just under 18 minutes, if you must know – I felt compelled to find out myself, anyway) and you can probably tell for yourself that it looks frankly outrageous.

I love this perspective on Death Stranding. Kojima’s odd and marvelous package delivery game ended up being one of my favorite games I played last year. Big budgets and wildly creative people being able to make bolder titles is great to see. This is how Sony has and continues to set itself apart in the market.

Sony Reverses Decision to Shut Down PS3 and Vita Stores

PlayStation Store on PS3 and PS Vita Will Continue Operations by Jim Ryan for the PlayStation Blog

Recently, we notified players that PlayStation Store for PS3 and PS Vita devices was planned to end this summer. 

Upon further reflection, however, it’s clear that we made the wrong decision here. So today I’m happy to say that we will be keeping the PlayStation Store operational for PS3 and PS Vita devices. PSP commerce functionality will retire on July 2, 2021 as planned.

We see now that many of you are incredibly passionate about being able to continue purchasing classic games on PS3 and PS Vita for the foreseeable future, so I’m glad we were able to find a solution to continue operations.

I’m glad that we can keep this piece of our history alive for gamers to enjoy, while we continue to create cutting-edge new game worlds for PS4, PS5, and the next generation of VR.

Vita does mean life.