Sony has high hopes for the future of virtual reality in games. In a new interview, Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House said the company has made a "significant" investment in PlayStation 4 virtual reality headset Project Morpheus, and suggested that virtual reality overall could the be the "next frontier" for games.
"It's definitely more than an experiment," House told The Guardian about Project Morpheus. "We've made some commitments; we're putting significant investment into the product."
One of the reasons House is so enthusiastic about the future of virtual reality for games is because he says the technology will mature to such a point where when you're wearing a virtual reality headset, you truly feel transported to another world.
"We do now think that we can get to this point of delivering a magical sense of presence--where your brain tricks you into thinking you're actually in this place" -- Andrew House on virtual reality
"We do now think that we can get to this point of delivering a magical sense of presence--where your brain tricks you into thinking you're actually in this place," House said. "We think there's something there that could be really, really interesting for a next frontier of game development."
Virtual reality has proven popular with the hardcore gaming crowd, but some--including the CEO of Grand Theft Auto parent company Take-Two Interactive--have questioned the technology's mainstream appeal. Asked if Project Morpheus had mass market potential, House said he wasn't sure.
"I don't know, but I think that at the very least it's going to be another really interesting advance for the PS4 ecosystem and another way to deliver brand new experiences," he said. "That's what we're all about."
For virtual reality to thrive in the way that some have suggested that it will, there also needs to be strong support from developers. House said after he saw game creators latch on to the Oculus Rift headset, he was convinced that Sony could do the same with Project Morpheus.
"With Oculus we saw this groundswell of game development that didn't necessarily have a monetizable or a business option, but [developers were] so passionate about this space that they were doing this essentially in their spare time," House said. "It struck that me that if there's a variety of game developers showing interest in this space then it's probably time to jump in and see if we can play a part and give them the tools they're looking for."
Oculus VR's own games boss, industry veteran Jason Rubin, says it will probably be a few years until we see virtual reality's killer app.
Though both Sony and Oculus are optimistic about the future for virtual reality, its impact on gaming remains to be seen. Both Project Morpheus and Oculus Rift are still in-development products, and there is no word yet on when either headset will be available publicly or what they will cost when released.