Good VR is hard to pull off, and early game demos are causing doubt for Sony fans.
Cue correction is amazing and terrible all at once. It's what happens when your brain sees motion the rest of your body doesn't feel. The brain tries to correct the discrepancy, and in many cases this results in nausea for the person experiencing cue correction. This effect has been a big part of why VR hasn't taken off in the past, and it's something Samsung, Oculus, HTC, and Google all work hard to avoid with their experiences so far.
A series of comments from people who have tried some of the more intense demos of upcoming PlayStation VR games has lead to a growing concern that Sony isn't quite as prepared for delivering a smooth experience as they should be. We've spent some time in PlayStation VR already, including demos that aren't available in the Best Buy and GameStop stations, so now seems like the perfect time to talk about this.
I'm going into this knowing my perspective is a little skewed. I spend a few hours almost every day in multiple forms of VR, and am insulated against cue correction as a result. The closest I get to feeling uncomfortable in VR anymore is when I try to play Windlands on the HTC Vive and my brain sees all the motion but my body is still firmly planted on the ground. I lose my balance, standing flat on my feet, but I never feel nauseated. All of my PlayStation VR demos have gone smoothly, in fact I've noticed that I can't really tell the difference between playing Eve: Valkyrie on the Oculus Rift and PSVR which is impressive.
So far the number of people who become nauseated is practically nonexistent.
All of that having been said, the PlayStation 4 is working overtime to deliver a consistent 60FPS, which is a critical minimum for successful VR. For reference, Oculus and HTC are delivering 90FPS in their headsets, and the difference is important. Sony's partners struggle to make normal PS4 games that operate at a consistent 60FPS on a television, so developers are facing some significant challenges in delivering a quality VR experience without sacrificing overall visual quality. And I think a lot of what we've seen so far about people getting sick in PSVR comes from barely finished demos being offered to press at E3. Game developers are going to need to be careful, and Sony is going to have to hold those developers to a standard to avoid widespread nausea issues.
Anecdotal thought his may be, I've spoken with several of the demo station managers across the US, currently walking dozens of users through PlayStation VR every day. These are folks who are both Sony employees and contractors, and so far the number of people who become nauseated is practically nonexistent. This is a small subset of the games that will be available at launch, and none of these people are doing anything that involves standing and walking around, but based on the experiences I've seen and the conditions most of the criticism has come from, I'm willing to give Sony room to breathe on this one and say it'll be fine.
I was beyond excited when I saw the announcement for Playstation VR earlier this year. I love playing in VR, and I love my Playstation 4, so the combination of the two had me jumping for joy. So, when I had a chance to try it out at a recent Best Buy, I quickly jumped in line
So long as you give yourself a few minutes to readjust, you should be fine.
I decided to give a game I've played before a shot, so that I could really put the Playstation VR through it's paces. So Eve: Valkyrie was the game I opted to test out. I flew through space attacking enemy ships while I barrel rolled, along with flying up and down and side to side. If there was a game that would test out whether the PSVR was going to make me sick, it was definitely this one.
While inside the headset, I felt fine. After 5-10 minutes in the PlayStation VR rig I took off the headset and had to take few minutes to reorient myself. I was a little bit dizzy, and there was some minor vertigo. Within about 3 minutes though I had shaken it off and was back to normal. Considering I had specifically chosen a game that might throw off my balance, and then did my absolute best to continue that trend. Even with that the vertigo that I experienced was pretty minimal and was gone within minutes. My experiences sounded familiar, and after some reading it turns out a lot of early Oculus Rift developer kit users had similar experiences, which makes sense.
With that in mind, I'd say that PlayStation has made a pretty serious attempt in making sure that folks aren't getting serious motion sickness from playing with their VR headset. Sitting still while the world moves around you is a recipe for motion sickness when you take off the headset and re-enter the physical world. So long as you give yourself a few minutes to readjust though, you should be fine.
Is there a problem?
There's no doubt that the 1080p display pushing 60FPS video is not as capable as the more capable experiences offered up by the significantly more expensive Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. It doesn't mean there's a guarantee there will be problems, but it does mean the line between no problems and serious nausea is a lot thinner. Developers seem to be aware of this, as we learned from our Jez Corden spending some time with the folks behind BattleZone VR there are lots of visual cues and gameplay tricks being used to dramatically reduce the chances of nausea. It's clear Sony and their partners are not only aware of the potential, but are actively working to make sure it's not a problem. That's good for everyone.