Consumer VR is here to stay, thanks to a few innovators in the field - but Sony has to be credited for its part in bringing virtual reality tech to the masses with PlayStation VR.
The headset lets anyone with a PlayStation 4 get the chance to try out VR games and experiences, without much setup hassle or legwork, and has been a success on that front.
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But it's also a few years old now - and Sony is gearing up for the release of the PlayStation 5 in the holiday season of 2020.
So, rumors have started to circulate about whether a new generation of console will bring with it a new generation of console VR. We've compiled all the latest chatter about what may lie in store for us with Sony's next generation headset.
PlayStation VR 2: The story so far
The first Playstation VR is, surprisingly, one of the older VR systems around, at this stage - it just celebrated its third birthday, after all. That's not too long a lifecycle in games console terms, but when you're talking VR headsets the picture's a little different.
Since Sony released it, Oculus has shifted its whole line, with a new focus on the Oculus Quest as well as the Rift S. HTC has also released new versions of its Vive line, most recently the Vive Cosmos.
In short, then, the landscape has changed while Playstation VR has endured. It's still got great support, though, with new games arriving all the time and existing ones such as No Man's Sky adding VR support that has been well-received.
Nonetheless, this adds up to a picture that suggests Sony would be well-advised to refresh its VR offering with a new device. Given that Sony recently confirmed that it intends to release the Playstation 5 in time for holiday season 2020, we're now starting to hear the first rumors about a follow-up to Playstation VR, too.
And, courtesy of one big recent patent filing, we've now heard whispers about wireless designs, backward compatibility and more - read on for the full details.
PlayStation VR 2: Design and features
The first big leak around PlayStation VR 2 (as we'll call it) came recently in the form of a patent filing that shows a bit of what Sony looks to be working on.
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The headline feature that the patent shows off, which we could therefore see on the next generation of PSVR, is a wireless headset. This design uses cameras on the outside of the headset to track the environment around the user, much like how the Oculus Quest works.
Now, that's the opposite of how the original headset handled tracking - it used the PlayStation Camera to track lights on the outside of the headset. This is big news; wireless headsets are significantly less of a faff to use, and way easier to transport and set up, so if PSVR 2 is indeed wire-free, we'd call that a big win.
The patent has more juicy details, though, such as the fact that the headset might be able to connect via Bluetooth, as further evidence of that potentially wireless system.
There are also indications of a new wireless controller option, which looks much like those used by Oculus and Vive systems, to give you something tangible to hold on to and use in VR. These look like upgraded versions of the original Move controllers, and each controller would have an on-board camera for tracking purposes.
Moreover, there's mention of a "transparent mode" that will let you see video through those external cameras to see the world around you without leaving the headset, another feature that Oculus manages well in its headsets. Plus, although the new headset would have those cameras of its own, there are also details of an upgraded external camera that could improve tracking even further.
Interestingly, though, the one other piece of information that came out before this leak is a really significant one. Sony has confirmed that all existing PlayStation VR hardware will also work with the Playstation 5. That should reassure current owners that their gear won't suddenly become obsolete if they upgrade their console.
That said, it also raises the question of how quickly the next generation of Playstation VR will emerge, if Sony's still planning around the current version.
PlayStation VR 2: Release date and price
When it comes to release date and price estimates for the next PlayStation VR, there isn't much firm ground to go on. On the other hand, we can form some fairly confident views about when the new version could emerge - or, at least, when the earliest it could come would be.
Since Sony's confirmed that the PS5 is due for the holiday season in 2020, you can bet your bottom dollar you won't see a new PlayStation VR release before then. However, it would also make a lot of sense for the new system to launch with the new console, as part of Sony's next-generation gaming strategy. For now, we're therefore backing holiday 2020 as a likely release date.
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Moving to price, things are similarly up in the air. The first PlayStation VR cost at release, quite a high price given that you already needed a PS4 to start with. We'd like to think that Sony will lower the bar for entry with a new headset, but sadly there's every chance that a next-generation system means similar pricing. We would also be surprised if the price went up by much, though.
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