PS4′s Project Morpheus Could Validate The Xbox One Kinect

With sales of its PS4 gaming console proceeding at a steady pace, this week Sony did what I didn’t think they ever could: it introduced something innovative with Project Morpheus.

To be clear, I’ve never been heavily biased against owning a PlayStation, games like Kill Zone and The Last of Us have always caught my eye. Sony is a game company, one that has an attractive assortment of titles that users can’t get anywhere else. However, after seeing the PS3 and the PS Move, I wasn’t impressed by the company’s technology efforts. MemoryStick, Blu-ray, UMD and 3D games were all just transparent attempts at lock in that didn’t offer benefits so revolutionary that users should just run out to embrace them either.

Project-Morpheus

However, the Project Morpheus VR headset is of a different ilk. Sure, we don’t know all of the details yet, however what we know of the prototype indicates that Sony could be close to a breakthrough in bringing this type of technology into the living room. It’s also made me critically thinking about the logistics of something like what Sony is trying with Project Morpheus when compared to Microsoft’s Kinect sensor, the last big innovation in the living room console space.

All told, I think the experience of owning a first generation Kinect could be incredibly similar to Project Morpheus.

For starters, Sony is going to have to work really hard to attract and maintain developer interest. That’s because even if the company bundles it with a PS4 there will be millions upon millions of users who’ll have purchased a PS4 before this thing was ever available. Sony will have to convince each developer that investing in what amounts to an add-on is worth spending millions of dollars to be on first too.

If the company succeeds, it could create a virtuous cycle that builds on the hype of early games and attracts users. On the other hand, the company could fail, leaving users with an ok line-up of launch titles that support Project Morpheus but not much after. If that sounds familiar it’s because that’s exactly what’s happened to Kinect. Thankfully, Microsoft solved this problem by including the Kinect sensor with every Xbox One. This levels the playing field for all games and makes convincing game makers to develop games with Kinect functionality a bit easier– but not much judging by the lack of available titles.

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Then there are the merits of the technology itself. Today, Microsoft still has a hard time selling users on Kinect-only games for the Xbox 360. It’s not that the technology isn’t revolutionary; it is. The problem is that developers aren’t really ready to try anything new with the technology. The jumping and fighting to serious gaming ratio on the PS Move and the Kinect for Xbox 360 isn’t even close. They’re all punch here and jump-like games. Today, Project Morpheus uses the technology that the PS Move pioneered. That puts it a risk for the same type of games that buyers have simply not been interested in thus far.

Finally, there’s pricing. We don’t know how much the Kinect 2 sensor would cost separately, however the original Kinect cost users $149.99 before tax. Microsoft softened the blow a bit by including the Kinect Adventures game for free, but users still had to have an Xbox 360 or purchase a new bundled console at $299.99. Project Morpheus requires the PS Camera, PS Move and the PS4 to work. In short, unless the version that Sony makes available to users is stunningly different, Project Morpehus could be ridiculously expensive, making it another Sony-made plaything of the well-off like Aibo digital pet.

I’m excited to see where Sony takes this. This could be the company’s opportunity to prove that it can still innovate and revolutionize how we play games. It’s both exciting and irritating at the same time.

Sony has confirmed that Project Morpheus is in active development. It hasn’t announced a release date or price for the headset.

Comments

  1. asdf1234 says

    I know Sony fans will play up Morpheus as some amazing thing, but let’s be real, it’s a quick attempt to cash-in on the hype of Oculus Rift, which in itself is probably going to be in for YEARS of trial and error problem solving and stumbling blocks before it has a shot at being a “real” gaming platform.

    I know people are speaking highly of the OR right now, but it has problems, the resolution is bad, games need to be very specifically programmed solely for OR (meaning you can’t just use any Windows/Mac/Linux game, it HAS to be a specific OR game which is going to be expensive). So how is Morpheus going to avoid this stuff? The fact is, it won’t. It will fall into this same trap of a thin game library and overpriced games, bad resolution, probably end up with stuttering and FPS issues, and to top it all off…the competitive crowd will never embrace this VR junk, competitive FPS gamers always use a mouse and keyboard or a customized console controller of some sort, competitive fighting gamers always use dedicated fightpads, etc.

    The simple fact is all these VR devices will fail to capture the serious gamer market and that will leave the marketing/PR department to push things like OR and Morpheus as gimmicks for the casual crowd…only problem is the casual crowd barely touches consoles and definitely does not game on PCs, they game on tablets and phones…VR mobile will be gobbled up by things like Glass, so these VR visors will never tap that market either.

    These things are nothing but a good idea. The execution in the real world will fail. And let’s not forget this isn’t actually VR, these things are just monitors build into a goofy looking piece of headgear and they use some gimmicky effects to make things look neat/wonky, just like 3D does, but you don’t see the serious gaming crowd running around embracing Nvidia 3D at their MLG matches.

    The only recent thing that was cool for gaming was the advent of the use of triple monitors, because it actually had a real benefit in giving you more peripheral vision in games, which gives a competitive edge. But the only reason it does this is because it extends the amount of pixels for your display, so it is no magic trick, it’s just using two added monitors to create one larger picture display with more pixels.

    REAL virtual reality won’t occur until we’re basically able to manipulate dreams or stream experiences directly to the human brain. That will be true VR, it will be basically entering another world that does not exist. These visors are just gimmicky monitors with special effects thrown in.

  2. wow says

    I stopped reading at
    ” but let’s be real, it’s a quick attempt to cash-in on the hype of Oculus Rift,”

    Really? Even tho Sony’s PM has been in development since 2010? Long before Oculus was even a kickstarter.

    You PC fanboys are the most insecure S.O.B’s there is.

  3. RJG says

    Adding on what wow said, asdf1234 is a moron. Obviously he hasnt read into any of what the device is about, bad resolution? Actually its already FHD, and this is only the prototype, the retail device could even be higher.

    These headsets actually give depth of field which makes the game more immersive. Also because the viewing angles on the headset are wide you get more peripheral vision.

    I do agree that people won’t use this for fighters, but I would sure as hell use it for RPGs and play in first peraon view mode, or use it for FPS games.

    It may not be actual VR like whats seen in Sword Art Online (anime) but it’s the first step and a big leap at that. I for one can’t wait for this to come out to the public.

  4. Sonia says

    My neighbor is working part time and averaging $15000 a month. I’m a single mum and just got my first paycheck for $6546! I still can’t believe it. I tried it out cause I got really desperate and now I couldn’t be happier. Here’s what I do… http://goo.gl/wEqBhe

  5. Me says

    This is the prototype and already has good stuff on. Also it still has another year to improve. If this can be used on all games as a normal screen I will definitely get it.

  6. jb226 says

    This article is kinda ridiculous…claiming that Kinect is better in anyway because people have been forced to have one, all the while acknowledging that there are no titles that actually use the thing means its still just a glorified remote, of which Sony already has that seems to work roughly as well. You can talk until you’re blue in the face about its “potential” but if the software isn’t there then why would anyone consider it a good thing to be forced to subsidize MS’ no doubt lofty R&D costs for a piece of kit that is still, two generations in, unproven. Then to go on and disregard Blu Ray as a relevant and successful format is even more ludicrous. This is a format that is now in most households w/ hdtv’s, not even mentioning the fact that your highly touted Microsoft is actually using it as well. Sony’s hardware might not blow down the doors sales wise but they are always quality pieces. From their Bravia hdtv’s all the way to their game consoles, they have had more success in quality hardware than Microsoft at pretty much every turn. Say what you will about the Move, but the fact remains that what it does it does well, better than it’s chief rival the Wii-mote by miles. Likening a VR headset in experience to a first generation Kinect before you’ve ever had hands on makes you sound very biased and your opinion obviously colored for whatever reason.

  7. tyler durdiant says

    the second version of oculus rift 2 is coming out before project morpheus so its not innovative its just borrowing from the them. Same thing with ps move copying nintendo sony only knows how to copy innovation not actually be innovative themselves

  8. Axe99 says

    Am surprised at the author’s bias against Sony’s past innovative efforts (indeed, camera-based motion control in the console space wasn’t pioneered by Microsoft but rather first popped up on the Playstation 2 ;)), not to mention their dislike of Sony’s lock-in attempts but planet-sized blind spot to lock in attempts by Microsoft (Sony had self-publishing for indies on PS3 – Microsoft only has it on XB1 because they’ve been dragged, kicking and screaming, into a competitive marketplace)! I would recommend the author get a broader experience in gaming before sound off on such views.

    Further, Sony are on the record as saying that most VR games would be controllable using a gamepad, negating the concerns about the more limited range of experiences you can have with Move/Kinect-style gaming. A little more research and the argument could have been more persuasive, and moved discussion of the topic further forward.

    That said, it’s good to see that the wider gaming world is slowly seeping into their experience, in a good way.

  9. medman says

    Am I reading this right? Did this author really try to downplay the significance of blu ray? Once you read something like that, it makes the rest of the reading irrelevant and inconsequential.

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