Though virtual reality technology like Sony's Project Morpheus and Oculus Rift are making headlines of late, don't expect this future-gazing technology to become mainstream right away. That's according to PlayStation Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida, who said in a new interview that virtual reality is going to be like the PlayStation 1 was to 3D realtime graphics for games, meaning that we won't see the full potential for possibly decades.
"People weren't sure how 3D graphics could be used for games," Yoshida told GamesBeat about early PlayStation 1 days. "Some people at the large Japanese publishers were very skeptical about 3D graphics tech. But after 20 years, things have really progressed. We have amazing games like The Last of Us or Journey or Beyond--games that use 3D realtime rendering for a variety of things."
"It's not even starting in a real way" -- PlayStation's Shuhei Yoshida about virtual reality
Yoshida described virtual reality technology as "still very early," and with lots of room to grow.
"It's not even starting in a real way. When we launch Project Morpheus, or when [Oculus VR] launch Oculus as a consumer product, I can see another 20 years of progress for all kinds of things," Yoshida said. "I feel like what [Facebook founder] Mark Zuckerberg is saying--he's looking more at a future vision of what this can be, rather than the initial or second year."
Indeed, Zuckerberg said last month when Facebook bought Oculus VR for $2 billion that the acquisition was a deal expected to pay dividends in the long-run, not the short-term.
For his part, Yoshida said Sony's engineering team is still going through cycles of experimentation with Project Morpheus in hopes of finalizing the hardware.
"We are still really trying to define or discover what works and what's required for the hardware tech. Our team feels that we're getting closer, but there are certain things that still have to be improved to make a good consumer product," Yoshida said.
Sony's Project Morpheus has a 1080p display and boasts a 90+ degree field of view. It doesn't have a release date or a price yet, but Sony isn't planning to launch it this year or sell the device for $1000 like its other premium head-mounted displays.
Also in the interview, Yoshida pointed out that Project Morpheus is actually similar to Nintendo's Wii U in that it will offer asymmetrical gameplay. He said certain games will allow one player to wear a headset while other players view and interact with the virtual reality player using a traditional screen. "It's like a Wii U game," Yoshida said, specifically referencing Nintendo Land's Mario Chase mini-game. In this game, a player controlling Mario using the GamePad must outrun other players who use Wii Remotes and look at the TV.
For Project Morpheus, Sony has created a modified version of its underwater-themed The Deep demo where players using a tablet can draw a line to instruct a sea turtle where to appear," Yoshida said. In the demo, the player wearing the headset is in a shark tank. Sharks are attracted to turtles (at least in this demo), so the non-virtual reality players are able to influence the virtual reality player even though they are looking at different screens.