In case you don't know what I'm talking about; Sony has officially announced that its PlayStation VR is going to be released in October, available immediately to its 35 million+ punters.
The only upgrades they might need aside from the VR headset itself are maybe a PlayStation camera and a couple of Move controllers. And then they'll be ready to go and play the new - and exclusive - VR version of Star Wars Battlefront which also got announced yesterday.
See, here's the thing - I've got doubts about virtual reality. You know that. Lord knows I've whinged about it enough. I think the sensory, real-world, deprivation, is a massive issue for the average punter. Couple that to the enormous cost of a PC that's capable of running VR - even if you're an existing PC owner, the likelihood is that you'd still need to buy some new guts for your machine - and it seemed like an insurmountable hurdle.
It's all about the tipping points, see. When the pile of pros, or the pile of cons, gets significantly heavier than the other, see. This is how I saw it, see:
In VR's pros pile we had:
- Incredibly cool technology.
- Feels like the future.
- Bragging rights.
In VR's cons pile:
- Makes you look stupid.
- You can't see or what's going on in the real world.
- Extremely expensive.
For a while now - for me, and I suspect lots of others - the cons pile was heavier than the pros pile. £349 is still quite a lot of money, but Sony has managed to bring it lower than the psychological barrier that says "extremely". Suddenly, the cons have become a lot lighter.
Alright, the PlayStation VR won't be as powerful as the Oculus Rift - $200 more than the PSVR - or the HTC Vive - $400 more than the PSVR - but if we learned anything from Betamax vs VHS it's that regular people don't care about that. The graphics will still be pretty good, and at £349 people are going to be intrigued enough to give it a go.
Consequently, I no longer think that PlayStation VR is going to be a Mega CD, or a 32X. Providing the games keep coming with it - it's going to be massive. No question.
Frankly, Microsoft should be scared. But not as scared as Nintendo should be.
Here's my worry about Nintendo: it is starting to look increasingly last-world, as if it hasn't learned a thing.
Their stubborn adherence to an old way of doing things, of existing in their own little bubble, is at risk of making the company look like a relic.
Alright, technically Nintendo doesn't compete directly with Sony and Microsoft - you can't really place the Wii U in the same sort of bracket as the Xbox One and PS4 - but at the same token, of course it's a direct competitor, it's just that it's no longer a threat to either Microsoft or Sony. Let's not forget that the console market used to be about Sega vs Nintendo. The latter is only where it is now - on the fringes - because it got left behind.
Nobody really knows what the NX - Nintendo's next console - is going to be, but the top rumour seems to suggest some sort of console/handheld hybrid. Certainly, not a virtual reality-based system - and right now, VR is what's getting all the kids excited.
Michael Pachter is an analist - sorry, analyst - for Wedbush Securities, a financial services and investment firm. Pachter has a bit of a reputation for his outspoken comments regarding the games industry, and he isn't optimistic about the chances of the NX.
Speaking to Gamingbolt he said: “You know, it’s sounding an awful lot like it’s a handheld and console hybrid, where you have a handheld and you do some stuff on it, and the console will be like an Apple TV or something, and you can pull games down from that.
"I would say based on Nintendo’s recent history, it is not going to be very good. I know they are pretty excited about it, but I would say it’s a backward looking technology, that is just not an improvement over everything else that we’ve got an option to do, and it will completely miss the point of games getting away from consoles.
"I think Nintendo is desperately clinging on to an old business model that is passing them by.”
Michael Pachter might be a professional troll, but in this instance his comments do echo my own fears. I don't want Nintendo to mess up. I want them to continue to produce their own machines. I mean, try imagining playing a brand new Mario or Zelda on a PlayStation 4. It would feel completely wrong. But Nintendo seems to exist in a bubble where it only has one eye on what's happening elsewhere in the world.
Yes, they want to put Nintendo products on smartphones... but given that they're simultaneously developing a new console, it's almost like they're putting their eggs in multiple baskets, and stretching themselves thin. There's a whiff of Nintendo feeling like the proverbial disco dad, the middle aged guy dancing by himself at the nightclub, in trousers and sensible shoes.
Sony - in one fell swoop with its PSVR announcement - has managed to make the Nintendo NX feel old fashioned, before anybody even knows what the Nintendo NX is.
And if you need further proof, a leaked Nintendo patent, that's rumoured to show the NX technology, suggests a cross between Microsoft's ill-fated Kinect, and the equally ill-fated Wii U gamepad.
If anyone has any better ideas as to what the hell is going on below... our ears are peeled: