It took awhile, but virtual reality has finally come to a home gaming console. The PlayStation VR is now available, offering the freshest gaming experience you’ll find anywhere. Sounds like the perfect time to grab a headset and see what this powerful new technology offers, right? Whoa there, tiger. Slow down.
It turns out there are many reasons to hold off on buying PlayStation VR, at least for the time being. Let’s tally them up.
If you’ve been buying consumer tech products for any span of time, you know that new technologies always start out on the expensive side and slowly come down in price as more people adopt them. Assuming VR is here to stay — which is a big assumption — this will happen with VR headsets as well. Worst case scenario, the price stays the same as the technology becomes more impressive.
But it’s not just a PlayStation VR headset you need to purchase in order to play. The basic hardware setup you’ll need includes a PlayStation 4, a PlayStation camera, and the PlayStation VR headset. Add those items up, and you’re looking at roughly $900 worth of hardware, and that doesn’t even include any games, or the two PlayStation Move controllers ($100) that let you simulate your hands in many games.
It all adds up to a pricy proposition. If you hold off on buying PlayStation VR now, you’re bound to find sales and a price drop down the line. It’s something to keep in mind.
2. Limited game library
No new game system has a massive library of games at launch. It’s just how these things work. That means you’re always going to have a better selection of games if you buy later.
And while PlayStation VR has a relatively large number of titles available compared to other console launches, most of the games are short experiences with limited replay value. You’re not going to find any epic games that take dozens of hours to complete.
It’s understandable that developers want to see if the hardware takes off before dedicating the money big games require. But if you gravitate toward bigger games outside of VR, you might be disappointed by what you’ll find available right now.
3. Lack of big franchises
While we’re on the subject of games, where are all the big franchises? Sure, we have Batman: Arkham VR and Driveclub VR, plus a brief VR experience in Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration. But where are the rest of the first-party PlayStation franchises? Where’s Uncharted? Where’s Ratchet & Clank and God of War? Why, for that matter, aren’t other big publishers bringing their major franchises to PlayStation VR? What about Madden, Battlefield, Titanfall, Grand Theft Auto, and all the others?
The PlayStation VR launch lineup is full of stuff no one’s ever heard of. That doesn’t mean those games are bad, of course, but it would be easier to get excited about PlayStation VR if more of the games had a little name recognition.
4. Potential for headaches and nausea
I’m not sure people who haven’t tried VR are taking this point seriously enough. Whether you’re prone to motion sickness or not, some games make some people feel queasy, often to the point where they’ll have a headache for hours after they take the headset off. Prior to actually playing a game, it’s impossible to know how your body will react to the experience.
That makes throwing money down for any game a somewhat risky proposition. It makes paying hundreds of dollars for the headset itself an even riskier one.
The best thing you can do is try to find a PlayStation VR demo somewhere and give it a shot. If you have a friend with a unit, even better. Just be sure to try it out before swiping your credit card. You never know, you just might vomit.
5. It takes up a lot of space
Many people have crowded entertainment stands as it is. You have a handful of devices under your TV, each one contributing to a snake’s nest of cables gathering dust behind your screen. If you buy a PlayStation VR, prepare to lose even more of that space.
First, there’s the headset you have to store somewhere. It also comes with a processor unit that looks kind of like a miniature PS4. That has to go somewhere, too. Then you have the (no exaggeration) seven cables that come in the PSVR box. There’s an HDMI cable, a USB cable, a cable to connect the headset to the processor unit, earbuds, a power cord, and a separate AC adaptor with a cord of its own. Oh yeah, and the corded PlayStation camera has to go somewhere, too. That’s a lot of cables.
If you think the area behind your TV looks like a disaster before getting PlayStation VR, you haven’t seen anything yet.
6. Reports of jittery Move controls
Another problem some — but not all — reviewers have reported is that the PlayStation camera, for whatever reason, can have trouble reading the Move controllers. When this happens, your character’s hands in VR can jitter around, or drift over time. In either case, it can be a bizarre, uncomfortable experience that takes you out of the immersion of the game. It’s unclear at the moment what causes this to happen, and how to fix it.
7. Being an early adopter always puts you at a disadvantage
When any new consumer tech comes out, the early adopters get the short end of the stick. By buying now, you’re essentially volunteering to be a lab rat. VR game developers are still working out basic kinks like the best way for players to navigate through virtual environments. The makers of other types of games figured this out long ago, paving the way for modern games that feel just right.
When it comes to perfecting the basic gameplay of VR, developers are going to mess up more than they succeed on any number of issues. And early adopters are the ones who have to help figure it out.
So unless you’re dying to jump into the brave new world of virtual reality and you have plenty of extra cash, the smart move is to hold off for the time being. Wait to see if it turns out to be more than a fad. Wait for some must-have games to come out. Wait for a sale. The best move now, for most people, is simply to wait.