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Posts tagged ‘Sony’

17
Apr
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Sony pumps up its PS4 update with game pre-loading and SHAREfactory video editor


Sony just announced sales of seven million PlayStation 4 consoles and promised more details on its upcoming software update would follow soon, now here they are. We still don’t have an exact timetable for when firmware 1.70 will arrive, but now we know more about its new “SHAREfactory” video editor and that game pre-loading is in the update. Many people are familiar with pre-loading via Steam and other PC services, which allows gamers to download pre-ordered games ahead of their release, then simply unlock the digital copy on the day it’s “released.” All it takes is enabling the PS4′s “auto download” feature, and you’re done, no more waiting while overloaded servers choke on release day.

The other big addition is SHAREfactory, a rich video editor app that will let gamers spice up their game recordings (which are getting a resolution bump to 720p) with filters and effects, music and picture-in-picture feeds from the PlayStation Camera. The music element is particularly interesting because it mentions both provided tracks and the ability to import your own original songs, even though the PS4 can’t play MP3s right now. If that’s a surprise addition to the list later, we won’t argue. One other tweak is letting users decide which friends they will share a clip or screenshot with from the Share menu itself, instead of having to go back into settings first. Additionally, a Japanese press release indicates the update will bring Remote Play to Sony’s Vita TV mini-console and the ability to archive those HD Ustream / Twitch broadcasts online.

While the Xbox One’s Upload Studio shares some of the same features, Sony is going a step further by letting users post SHAREfactory videos directly to Facebook, or move them directly to an external USB storage device to upload them elsewhere (YouTube). We called out the PS4′s lack of a video editor when we compared the two system’s services and apps, and while we’ll have to wait for some hands-on time to be sure, that gap may be closed. Of course, if you prefer DIY capture and editing, FW 1.70′s HDCP-off that will allow video capture of games over HDMI will be the big addition, but this makes it easier for anyone to try it. Now, if only we knew when we will get to see the new update (and, hopefully, successive ones to fill in missing features like MP3, Blu-ray 3D, DLNA).

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Source: PlayStation Blog

17
Apr
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Sony sold seven million PS4s already, beating its own predictions


Sony was quick to pat itself on the back for passing five million PlayStation 4s sold more than a month earlier than it predicted, and now that the fiscal year is over there’s more to celebrate. As of April 6th, Sony says it has sold more than seven million PS4s worldwide, covering more than 72 countries/regions. Games are moving too, with 20.5 million sold in stores or as downloads since launch, while players have already punched that Share button over 135 million times. We’ve had multiple updates on Sony’s stats since the last time we heard specific worldwide numbers from Microsoft, which seems to still trail in the hardware sales race — we should know more about the situation in North America after the NPD reports for March come out tomorrow. Despite relative radio silence on sales, updates on the Xbox One have added a number of features to its software recently, and Sony has revealed the PS4 will get a big update with external drive support, HDCP off and more soon. A post on the PlayStation Blog claims information on that is close by, but for now gaming fans (bored of Infamous: Second Son / Titanfall) can focus on what’s really important: which system moved more units.

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Source: Sony (PRNewswire), PlayStation Blog

17
Apr
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Sony continues to trim the fat, dumps Square-Enix stock


The PlayStation 4 may be leading home console sales, but that doesn’t mean Sony’s bank account is in the black. The company has made a minor habit of garnishing its quarterly earnings reports with notable losses, and it’s been selling off assets (including its own headquarters) to help balance its budget. Its latest liquidation is the company’s 8.25 percent stake in Square-Enix, the outfit behind jRPG hits like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. The ¥4.8 billion ($46.9 million) Sony expects to pocket from the sale is only a dent in the $1.1 billion it estimates it lost last year, which leaves the sale of Sony’s other headquarters and its VAIO PC business to help make up the difference. This might mark the end of Sony’s financial support for Square-Enix, but gamers shouldn’t be worried: The game developer has a long, loyal history with the PlayStation brand.

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Source: Wall Street Journal

16
Apr
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Sony has a 4K TV for every budget (that’s at least $2,099)


Sony 4K TV

Sony has nailed down the final launch details for its newest 4K Bravia TVs, and surprise — they just might be affordable this year. The “entry-level” XBR-X850B series will start at a relatively frugal $2,099 for a 49-inch model, with prices peaking at $5,499 for a 70-inch set. If you’ve got a bit more cash and want upgrades to both audio and wall mounting, the XBR-X900B line starts at $3,999 for a 55-inch set and scales up to $8,999 for a 79-inch variant. There’s still a couple of models for the money-is-no-object crowd, of course. The improved LED lighting of the 65-inch XBR-X950B will set you back $7,999, while the display’s 85-inch sibling costs an eye-watering $24,999. All of the 4K sets ship in June.

The company also hasn’t forgotten about those with earlier Bravia sets. It’s releasing an updated version of its 4K media player, the FMP-X10, this summer. There’s no pricing just yet, but it has 1TB of storage for downloaded Video Unlimited movies and supports the same 4K Netflix movies as newer Bravia TVs. The previous model sold for $699, although Sony has bundled it with sets for free or at a discount — whatever the new one costs, you may not have to pay full price.

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Source: Sony

15
Apr
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MLB 14 The Show: The Joystiq Review


The term “simulation” is appropriate for MLB 14: The Show, but not just because of its beautiful presentation, a defining trait of the series that’s become a benchmark for other sports video games. Rather, MLB 14: The Show earns its simulation stripes by continuing the series’ tradition of challenging players with mechanics and statistics that mirror the real sport. While MLB’s gameplay has changed little this year, no matter what option players select for pitching, fielding and hitting (we’ll get to that later), they will fail or succeed as regularly as athletes do in the big leagues.

Yet much like the faithfully-recreated and wildly differing batting stances of hitters in the game, MLB 14: The Show truly makes its mark in the baseball sim series by being one thing: dynamic.

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Source: Joystiq

14
Apr
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Joystiq weekly wrap-up: Fire-breathing lizards, big bad wolves and giant robots


Welcome to the first edition of the Joystiq Weekly Wrap-up, where we present some of the best stories and biggest news from our beloved sister-publication. After the break you’ll find, among other things, Pokémon, the Big Bad Wolf and the final word on Titanfall’s ongoing multiplayer examination. Our brothers and sisters in arms are on the ground in Boston this weekend for PAX East too, and you can find all of that coverage right here. Pour a frosty beverage and join us for the week’s gaming news, won’t you?

News

Arguably the biggest news this week came from Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros-themed Nintendo Direct broadcast. The franchise hits the 3DS this summer and the Wii U this fall with two online modes (For Fun and For Glory) and a unique spin on series-staple Adventure mode, Smash Run. Perhaps the biggest news, though, is the addition of all around bad-ass Charizard to the game’s roster.

One of the more intriguing games shown at Microsoft’s E3 press event last year was indie-puzzler Below. It’s being developed by Capybara Games (Super Brothers Swords and Sworcery EP) and news hit this week that if you don’t feel like shelling out $500 for an Xbox One — it was previously announced as a platform-exclusive — that the game is coming to Steam, too.

In Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel you’ll travel to the moon when it releases this fall for PS3, PC and Xbox 360. The last-gen title takes place between the first two games, and you’ll be fighting for antagonist Handsome Jack this time around.

If you’ve beaten Bastion countless times while waiting for developer Supergiant Games’ follow-up Transistor to hit, it’s almost time to let The Kid rest. The action-RPG releases on the PS4 and PC for $20 on May 20th.

Reviews

This week Joystiq reviewed Xbox One exclusive Kinect Sports Rivals and episode three of Telltale Games’ The Wolf Among Us. Critic Jessica Condit lamented Rivals is another instance of Kinect’s crippled functionality.

The Xbox One Kinect is more responsive than its predecessor, but it still doesn’t seem ready for this level of gameplay. My set-up meets the requirements – a clear, open floor and seven feet of playable space from Kinect to the front of my couch. Still, Kinect had trouble deciphering who was playing if anything moved in the background or just off to the sides, and it tracked motions inconsistently.

Joystiq‘s managing editor Susan Arendt was much more positive in her look at Biggby Wolf’s latest chapter. Although The Crooked Mile narratively occupies the middle of Telltale’s Fables yarn, that shouldn’t be held against it she says.

Taken by itself, it’s unsatisfying and half-missing, but of course it’s not meant to be taken by itself. It’s the centerpiece of a larger whole, the lock that will let everything eventually make sense.

Original stories

Road-trip season will be here before you know it, but with the price of gas still pretty high, getting out and exploring the open road can be an expensive proposition. If you’d still like to see some of the US though, Ubisoft’s The Crew will let you do just that, virtually. The constantly-connected racer lets you and three buddies drive from San Francisco to Salt Lake City and other cities (including Detroit), completing challenges and collecting cars. Joystiq‘s video preview gives an overview of the game’s look and feel.

As part of its ongoing look at crowdfunded game development, Joystiq notes that the month of March continued the space’s continued slump. What’s more, March was the second-worst month of pledges in the prior 10 (when Joystiq started the series).

PC gamers are a proud people: they tend to invest heavily in their rigs and expect the best possible experience from their games as a result. For them, playing a console game that’s been ported can be a crap shoot in terms of performance. With the brutally difficult Dark Souls 2, however, that isn’t the case. The PC version is prettier than its PS3 and Xbox 360 counterparts, and is the best version of the game that’s available.

In the wake of games like Battlefield 4 and its still-rocky performance, Joystiq has started an ongoing look at how a game’s multiplayer fares in the first month after launch. With Titanfall, the outlet says that despite a few brief outages, the experience remains solid, dubbing the game’s state of service “good.”

That’s it! Be sure to check back next Sunday for another recap, or if you’re impatient, click over to Joystiq and catch the news as it happens.

[Image credit: Miguel Angel Garrido / Flickr]

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Source: Joystiq

13
Apr
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Weekends with Engadget: GS5 and Fire TV reviews, Sony’s Yoshida on VR, and more!


Welcome to Weekends with Engadget, a quick peek back at the top headlines from the past seven days — all handpicked by the editors here at the site. For even more action, subscribe to our Flipboard magazine!

Samsung Galaxy S5 review: a solid improvement, but don’t rush to upgrade

Samsung’s latest handset, the Galaxy S5, has a slightly larger screen and squared edges, but nontheless recognizable as part of the Galaxy family. Packing a heart rate monitor, fingerprint scanner and extensively revamped TouchWiz UI, it’s a solid upgrade from the GS4. But is it worth an early upgrade?

Getting to know Microsoft’s new Xbox lead, Phil Spencer

There’s a new sheriff in Xbox town, and his name is Phil Spencer. While most of us know him as the E3 guy who speaks about games during Microsoft’s keynote, Spencer is a longtime Redmond employee who worked his way up from the bottom.

The Micro is a $200 3D printer that can make a teacup in an hour

If you’ve been expectantly waiting for 3D printer that wouldn’t require you to wring out your wallet, now might be your chance to pick one up. This week, M3D’s Micro hit Kickstarter — for only $200.

Lightroom mobile arrives for iPad with touch-friendly interface, realtime sync

Lightroom mobile for the iPad is here! Adobe’s latest companion app brings photographers most of the most of the funtionality found in the desktop version, and any changes you make will be pushed to your Lightroom cloud.

Neil Young on digital audio: You’re doing it wrong

Neil Young has a plan to serve up high-resolution audio, and it’s called Pono. But why would anyone spend $400 on a somewhat chunky media player and re-buy all of their music library in FLAC format? We sat down with the rock icon to find out.

My First Time on the World Wide Web

Do you remember the first time you cracked open the treasures of the World Wide Web? Our editors sure do. Read on for a look into the lives of Engadget’s biggest nerds and their first experience with the “internet.”

Amazon Fire TV review: the set-top that tries to do everything

Is it a gaming console? Is it a media streamer? Well, Amazon’s Fire TV is a little of both. Sure, the $99 set-top box is lightning fast thanks to its “ASAP” technology. But in an ecosystem all to its own, will the Fire TV be able to attract enough development and content to stay afloat in an already saturated market?

SONY DSC

Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida loves that Facebook bought Oculus, says it helps validate PlayStation’s efforts

Most of us were surprised (maybe even appalled) once we learned that Facebook bought Oculus VR for $2 billion. Shuhei Yoshida, head of Sony Computer Entertainment’s Worldwide Studios, however, was thoroughly excited.

Play Nintendo’s rarest game on your Wii U

Back in the 90s, Nintendo released 90 copies of a three-part, competitive play cartridge called Nintendo World Championships. In the spirit of nostalgia, the company’s adding said game into its next iteration of NES Remix for the Wii U.

Amazon phone reportedly coming in September with glasses-free 3D

According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon’s planning to release its own smartphone this coming September. What’s more, the handset’s reported to have four cameras with retina-tracking tech, making it possible to project 3D images without needing glasses.

Subscribe to Weekends with Engadget on Flipboard today!

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12
Apr
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Daily Roundup: Galaxy S5 review, Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida on VR and more!


You might say the day is never really done in consumer technology news. Your workday, however, hopefully draws to a close at some point. This is the Daily Roundup on Engadget, a quick peek back at the top headlines for the past 24 hours — all handpicked by the editors here at the site. Click on through the break, and enjoy.

Samsung Galaxy S5 review: a solid improvement, but don’t rush to upgrade

Samsung’s latest handset, the Galaxy S5, has a slightly larger screen and squared edges, but nontheless recognizable as part of the Galaxy family. Packing a heart rate monitor, fingerprint scanner and extensively revamped TouchWiz UI, it’s a solid upgrade from the GS4. But is it worth an early upgrade?

SONY DSC

An oral history of the last 20 years of gaming, as told by PlayStation’s Shuhei Yoshida

Since the beginning, Shuhei Yoshida’s been an integral part of Sony’s PlayStation arm. From initiating franchises like Crash Bandicoot and Uncharted, to daily interacting with thousands of customers on Twitter, Yoshida helped build the foundation of the modern gaming industry.

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Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida loves that Facebook bought Oculus, says it helps validate PlayStation’s efforts

Most of us were surprised (maybe even appalled) once we learned that Facebook bought Oculus VR for $2 billion. Shuhei Yoshida, head of Sony Computer Entertainment’s Worldwide Studios, however, was thoroughly excited.

Amazon phone reportedly coming in September with glasses-free 3D

According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon’s planning to release its own smartphone this coming September. What’s more, the handset’s reported to have four cameras with retina-tracking tech, making it possible to project 3D images without needing glasses.

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11
Apr
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An oral history of the last 20 years of gaming, as told by PlayStation’s Shuhei Yoshida


The three weeks out of every month that Shuhei Yoshida’s in Japan, he has the same routine every day. He wakes up, opens a tablet, and gets back to work on PlayStation consumer feedback via his favorite interaction tool: Twitter. The man who heads Sony’s PlayStation group is incredibly, perhaps detrimentally, accessible on social media. It’s not his job, but a role he’s taken on. “It’s my personal time, but since lots of people tweet to me, I’m doing this almost official customer service,” he says.

After 20-plus years working on PlayStation, Yoshida’s beyond overqualified for customer service. He’s been with Sony’s PlayStation arm from its creation, and helped shepherd franchises from idea to mainstream norms: Gran Turismo, Crash Bandicoot, Uncharted. The list goes on.

Yoshida spoke with PlayStation 4 lead architect (and other game industry legend) Mark Cerny last evening in California, where he detailed his storied history in the game industry.

Before we get to that, though, it’s important to establish that Yoshida is an incredibly prolific gamer. He owns two of every game console. Why? So he can play Japanese and US games alike. He also says that he’s been banned from Nintendo’s MiiVerse social network. Twice. “The first time was because I had my Twitter account in my profile and that’s against the rules,” he says. “The second time is because I wrote, ‘I love PS.’ You’re not supposed to promote a commercial product in MiiVerse, so they correctly interpreted ‘PS’ as ‘PlayStation,’” he says with a laugh.

Life Before Sony

Prior to joining Sony, Yoshida flirted with studying physics and the work of Einstein, but his dad quickly shot that down, pushing him to a more practical major. So in college he studied economics and business — when he actually went, that is. He says that in Japan, business students don’t really attend class, and that the four or five students who would, took notes and shared them with everyone who wasn’t there. He spent six months working in Australia at the time, and when he got back to Japan he had all the answers to the tests waiting for him. “In my senior year in Japan, I didn’t go to any classes at all.”

Immediately after graduating, Yoshida joined Sony. In hindsight, his reasoning is a little selfish, though. Because his dad more or less forced him to switch majors, he wanted to get out of the country. “I wanted to run away from home as soon as possible because of that,” he says, half-joking. “When I say this, it might sound incredible… but I was thinking, ‘maybe Sony will make games in the future and when they do, I’m going to join that group.’”

Sony being an international company helped Yoshida make his decision, too. The firm sent him to study at UCLA for two years, and only then did he finally start learning about business principals like statistics and microeconomics. Since he was getting a paycheck, Yoshida had the resources to spend time traveling around the Western states and even Europe during summer break, when other students were typically working.

After graduating, he traveled back to Sony HQ in Japan where he spent nine months working with the PC group on a project that was ultimately cancelled. He bounced over to the corporate strategy group after that. It was here that he met then-Sony chairman Ken Kutaragi and work on the PlayStation began.

The formation of Sony Computer Entertainment

Sony Computer Entertainment, Yoshida says, started in Japan as a joint venture between Sony’s hardware division and its music wing. In the team’s early days, it approached signing and curating development teams much like it would a band — something that Parappa the Rapper mastermind (and J-pop singer) Masaya Matsuura loved. The scrappy PlayStation team had a lot to learn from the game industry, Yoshida admits, but it wanted to create something new at the same time.

“We believed that a game could become entertainment for everyone,” he says — not just kids. “The reason the company was named Sony Computer Entertainment instead of Sony Game Company or something like that is because we believed that games could be bigger than they were.”

Four years later, SCE had all of Japan’s major publishers signed on to make games for the platform. Yoshida explains that the big thing for the market was getting the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest franchises on PlayStation, but after he’d achieved that goal he lost interest a bit. “What’s next? We got all the support from the industry, where do we go?” he asks. It was then that he moved from business development to a producer role on the product side.

The Birth of Crash Bandicoot

If it wasn’t for Nintendo, Crash Bandicoot might have been too difficult to play. Yoshida says that one of the benefits of being new on the scene was that Japanese publishers were keen to pass wisdom Sony’s way. The Mario-house “really helped others” by using test feedback generated from consumers play-testing in-development games. “As soon as I moved into game production, I was the heaviest user of the (testing) group,” he says.

Up to that point, Cerny says, his Crash Bandicoot team was making a game for seasoned gamers like themselves and it was too difficult for the average consumer or kid. “You (Yoshida) were not familiar with games, so you thought you had to do testing,” Cerny says. “We were familiar, so we thought we didn’t have to, ironically.”

Cerny taking his input seriously and using Yoshida’s testing more made Yoshida “so happy,” he says. One of his associate producers would count every player-death and send it to Cerny, who’d then realize where a checkpoint should be added. “We started to think about difficulty. Are our games something consumers play?” Cerny asks. “The idea was you had to find real consumers, study their real behaviors and report back in.”

Working with “The Father of PlayStation”

VIDEO GAME EXPO

Yoshida spent 10 years working under Ken Kutaragi, and he admits that without him that PlayStation wouldn’t have happened. Humbly, Yoshida says that without Kutaragi, he wouldn’t have a job, either. “I have nothing but respect for what he has done for me,” he says. At dinner once, Kutaragi turned to him and said that he knew Yoshida didn’t necessarily like him, but he knew that Yoshida liked working for him because he could do exciting work as a result. “I said ‘yes, exactly.’

Working with Kutaragi was incredibly difficult, Yoshida says, because he could do an immediate 180 in terms of what he wanted. On the engineering team, trying to predict where he might alter direction was “a very difficult job,” Yoshida says. “Every week his direction and instructions could change.”

Also tough was that he struggled to give compliments to coworkers. “I was complimented by Ken twice!” says Yoshida. “When I say this to my colleagues, they say ‘twice? That’s a lot!” Those flow much more freely from Yoshida. “For me, giving a complement is free, it’s like a smile from McDonald’s,” he says. “But still, we all love Ken.”

Working with Kutaragi was incredibly difficult, Yoshida says, because he could do an immediate 180 in terms of what he wanted.

After Kutaragi’s sudden departure in 2006, Yoshida felt threatened by internal conversations at Sony that questioned the need for its worldwide studio team’s existence. After consulting then-chairman Akira Sato, he pitched Kutaragi’s successor Kaz Hirai on leading Sony Worldwide Studios. A few years later, work began on the PS Vita and PS4 — with direct involvement from Yoshida’s army of developers.

Enough digital ink’s been spilled about the partnership between developers and the new PlayStation hardware team, though. What’s notable in this story is that Worldwide Studios went from teetering on the brink of extinction to becoming the backbone of Sony Computer Entertainment in a few short years.

Sean Buckley and Ben Gilbert contributed to this post; Image Credit: AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian.

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11
Apr
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Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida loves that Facebook bought Oculus, says it helps validate PlayStation’s efforts


“I woke up that morning and saw the announcement,” Shuhei Yoshida tells us, remembering the day Facebook acquired Oculus VR. “And I was like, yeah!” Yoshida laughs and thrusts his arms in the air like an excited child. “For me, it was a validation for VR.” As head of Sony Computer Entertainment’s Worldwide Studios, virtual reality (and Sony’s Project Morpheus) has become important to Yoshida. He wants to see it, as a medium, to succeed.

“We meant to validate Oculus by announcing Morpheus, and the Oculus guys knew what we were working on. I think they were waiting for us to make the announcement, so it would be Sony and Oculus together,” he explains backstage at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. “…but now Oculus being acquired by Facebook is helping to validate our efforts.” It’s big-picture thinking. Yoshida already liked the idea of Sony and Oculus calling attention to each other’s efforts, but adding the Facebook name to the mix broadens the duo’s exposure. “More people will know about VR!”

Oculus being acquired by Facebook is helping to validate our efforts.

Zuckerberg’s vision for the purchase intrigues him too. “Mark said be believes VR can be the next platform after mobile,” Yoshida said. “That’s big thinking, and kind of excites our thinking.” Sony’s team has already been exploring uses for VR outside of traditional gaming, he explains, but nothing as broad as Zuckerberg’s statements. “We’ve thought of doing virtual travel or something, but talking about a new platform? What does that mean?” Yoshida says it’s given him something to think about.

Of course, a broader platform for VR means the technology will see more use — and that technology still has several usability hurdles to conquer. “VR of the past, including our own prototype, has been very difficult to use in terms of getting headaches and becoming nauseated,” he said. “Those early prototypes had larger latency and the positional tracking may not have worked as well. I feel really sorry for people developing VR stuff! They have to test it! With the kit we have now, what we demonstrated at GDC, I think its the first time we can really provide developers with something and say, you can use ours, and you’ll be alright.”

Sony’s been talking to medical professionals about overcoming simulation sickness, Yoshida explains, and wants hardware to be comfortable and usable without adjustment. “The Oculus DK1 has lots of adjustments available, but the Morpheus just works, the optics design. We’ll continue to improve it.” Eventually, the company wants to create guidelines for how old users should be, and how long they should use it for, but it’s not quite there yet. Even Yoshida admits he hasn’t spent extended periods of time in virtual reality, usually keeping his sessions at under ten minutes.

The Oculus DK1 has lots of adjustments available, but the Morpheus just works

Yoshida’s plan for building those guidelines relies heavily on collaboration. “We need to share knowledge,” he explained. “We can’t just make the hardware, it’s the game applications that need to be designed well. We need time for developers to experiment and find the killer application, and at the same time we need to learn how VR applications should be designed.” Providing the Morpheus dev kit to developers, Yoshida says, is the first step.

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