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Playstation VR, Meta, and the future of Virtual Reality

With the new Playstation VR headset coming in just a few weeks, I would love to share my love and introspection for the exciting and compelling world of Virtual Reality. 

VR has been a pretty exciting part of my life. I received my first headset in 2016 for Christmas and instantly fell in love. One of the first games I ever played was called Eagle. You are a bird of prey flying through a post-apocalyptic Paris, completing challenges, meeting different creatures, and soaring through an empty, overgrown Paris, France. 


Hopping into virtual reality for the first time is something I, and many others like me, will soon not forget. Being able to look inside the headset and see something that isn't in your living room was the ultimate immersive experience. Holding up the controller and seeing something that wasn’t on your person: Magic and awe awaited everyone. VR is a magical experience, and many companies have joined the race to create their headsets.


Playstation VR2


With Meta (formerly Facebook) recently diving into the fray, the accessibility of virtual reality is at an all-time high. Meta has recently seen dips in its VR division and unprecedented losses in 2022, a loss of $13.72 billion in 2022, according to Nasdaq profit earnings. Despite that loss, Meta is going full steam ahead with their gear, known as the Quest Virtual Reality headset, and has recently gotten the go-ahead to purchase VR workout company, Within. This acquisition comes amid many court cases dealing with trust and monopoly laws, such as Microsofts tumultuous tale of the purchase of Activision-Blizzard, and, according to many, has the potential to break the United States anti-trust laws that have been in place for years as they continue to grow their impressive catalog of VR studios.


 Furthermore, the Meta pivot into Virtual Reality has been rocky, with declining numbers and an unsubstantial player base. They have been trying to expand their recreational game “Horizon Worlds” to teenagers amid a decline in the player base due to a multitude of reasons, such as a retention rate of 11%, meaning one in nine players return the next month, according to a report by Engadget. The opening up to ages 13 to 17 is a hopeful move for the company as they aspire to retain a higher player rate and bump their numbers from the current 200,000 to a healthier 500,000 and bump retention rates from 11% to 20% in hopes to get people excited about their new leap into Virtual Reality. 


Horizon Worlds


Horizon Worlds is a social space for coworkers, friends, and others to hang out and see the beautiful world of Virtual Reality. Many issues lie in this new space, as shown by its spiritual competitor VRchat. VRchat is a mostly unmoderated and freeing space for people to be someone they are not, even non-human entities, explore thousands of worlds, and live new lives through the eyes of another. According to many, Worlds is everything VRChat doesn’t want to be. 


Horizon is moderated, for one, as a space for workers and others to collaborate during a work day. It has a different location to do things in, not a freeing world to break the monotony of everyday life. Horizon is reviewed by many as "empty and soulless." The application is meant to be a more corporate workspace for collaboration between colleagues over gamers and other virtual reality players. Many YouTubers have made videos about Horizon and left some scathing reviews. Many have said that VRChat is a much more accessible and exciting format of what Horizons is trying to be. 


Beyond Horizon and the Meta Quest, many other companies have been vying for a spot in the virtual reality market, such as Sony and their long-awaited virtual reality sequel: PSVR2. The headset releases in two weeks with a full line-up of games and brand-new industry-defining hardware. Redesigned with a sleeker look, new controllers, eye-tracking software, and a stylized camera, the much-anticipated headset is shaping up to be not only an upgrade for them but an upgrade for VR in general. 


Some of the most anticipated VR games coming to Sony is a sequel to the highly-acclaimed Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners, which puts you in the shoes of a survivor amid a deadly post-apocalyptic zombie world trying to survive amidst the zombie hordes and evil humans. Another game I have had my eyes on for a while is the headset's flagship title: Horizon: Call of the Mountain. Moreover, this game is visually stunning and interactive. It uses every aspect of the new headset and controller, such as the haptic feedback triggers, eye-tracking, and vibration throughout the headset. 


I am excited about this new technology that brings so much to the table, so many fresh upgrades, upcoming games that look gorgeous, new social experiences, and new technology that is an upgrade for PlayStation's brand-new headset. The PSVR2 comes out February 22 and will surely bring new and exciting experiences for many to enjoy for years to come.


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