Will the PSVR 2 be backwards compatible? It is better to be …

While we have yet to see the PlayStation VR 2 headset, aka the PSVR 2, in the flesh, this week Sony confirmed key specs for its PS5 virtual reality device at CES 2022. But a key feature of the PS5 – we add – was remarkable for its absence: there was no mention of backward compatibility with the original PSVR titles.

Instead, Sony focused on the new features of the headset – its 4K HDR OLED display, 110-degree field of view, 90Hz / 120Hz refresh rates, and “new sensory features” including haptic feedback. in the VR device.

When asked for clarification on the backward compatibility status of PSVR 2 by games reporter Stephen Totilo, Sony’s PR representative simply said that “They have nothing more to announce at this time.”

But with backward compatibility so easy to gain in PR for the next headset, you’d be forgiven for worrying about the reasoning for not discussing it as early as possible in the headset hype cycle.

PSVR

(Image credit: Sony)

This is unusual, given the fanfare and grateful reception Sony received from gamers when it confirmed that the PS5 will be backward compatible with 99.9% of PS4 titles. As a result, you imagine Sony would have been just as optimistic about confirming PSVR 2 backward compatibility sooner rather than later, which portends a disturbing conclusion that the PSVR 2 is not compatible at all.

Achieve backward compatibility of the PSVR 2

Granted, there are a number of key differences that will need to be taken into account in order for backward compatibility to be possible.

First, Sony would have to decide how to adapt low-res games to a new high-end display unit. On top of that, the tracking system used by the original PSVR used an external camera and headset lighting to help track player movement, while the PSVR 2 uses reverse tracking – something which would require additional development work to be compatible on the new helmet.

And finally, the new Sense controllers look drastically different from the stick-shaped PS Move controllers that PSVR 1 relied on, not to mention the differences between the DualShock 4 and DualSense pads.

PSVR 2 controllers used

(Image credit: Sony)

These aren’t insurmountable differences, but it certainly doesn’t seem like the two systems and legacy software are compatible from the get-go. An investment in additional development fixes certainly seems necessary if backward compatibility is possible, but how many developers will or will be encouraged to make this investment is uncertain.

Even PSVR compatible games that have already received PS5 upgrades, like Hitman 3 and No Man’s Sky, have seen their PS5 versions of the game drop support for the original PSVR.

Instead, players should download the PS4 versions of the game to their new consoles in order to access the PSVR feature. Whether or not that will facilitate a PS5 / PSVR 2 release later remains to be seen, but Sony’s intergenerational approach to VR is already causing headaches. This is because even to use the original headset on next-gen console hardware, a gamer must first order a PSVR adapter for the new machine, as it does not natively support the VR device through its built-in ports. . Some PSVR titles, such as Robinson: The Journey, are not compatible with the PS5 in any way.

Legacy Libraries

When it comes to hardware changes for other virtual reality software libraries, the transition has been less painful. This is mainly due to the fact that aside from all-in-one headsets like the Oculus Quest 2, the majority of VR games take place on PC.

Here, for the most part, game libraries can be transferred from one headset to another with relative ease, with key platforms such as Steam VR and Oculus VR being supported by a large number of headsets. In cases where compatibility between headsets and PC VR titles is not available, a hardcore modding community has often been able to find workarounds or fixes to make most software compatible with most of the software. PC VR hardware.

Astrobot

(Image credit: YOU Japan Studio)

But with the case of PSVR, it’s really part of Sony’s walled-up ecosystem. Your PSVR library cannot be magically transferred to a PC – although there are of course plenty of cross-platform VR titles out there, owning them for PSVR and PC would require a separate purchase. And in the case of top-tier PSVR exclusives like Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, Farpoint, or Blood and Truth, those titles (currently) are simply not available anywhere else.

Will Sony patch these games for PS5 and PSVR 2? It’s possible, but Sony’s haphazard approach to next-gen paid PS4 software upgrades to PS5 may mean loyal PSVR fans may still have to pay an allowance to access any potential upgrades. future.

As it stands, the original owners of the PSVR, those whose investment made this PSVR 2 device possible, will be forfeited PS4 consoles and aging PSVR hardware in order to play their existing VR catalogs. Sony would do well to reassure its most ardent VR fans that it won’t, or run the risk of alienating those most likely to tap into its next generation of VR hardware.

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