With the recent acquisition by Facebook of Oculus, the makers of the virtual reality gaming headset the Oculus Rift, we thought we’d compare it to the other VR headset in the making – Sony’s Project Morpheus.
The Oculus Rift started out as a project on at the crowd-funding site Kickstarter, where numerous people backed the project by donating money. For those interested, a donation of $300 meant the backer would receive a development kit to help make games that supported the headset. This means that the Oculus Rift is completely open-source. In other words, anybody who develops games for a living or for fun can contribute to getting the headset and games ready for the public. While this is of course positive, it also means that the quality of games produced could vary. Some may be excellent while others made on small budgets by small development teams may not be worth the price of purchasing an Oculus headset. On another note, Facebook has plans to bring the Oculus into the world of communication, which could mean the Oculus Rift is used for more than just gaming. Whether this is a positive or a negative is a matter of opinion.
Oculus does, however, have the benefit of partnering with Valve – the company behind Steam where gamers can buy, develop and modify popular computer games. Valve actually showcased a modified version of the Oculus Rift at Steam Dev Days back in January, which blew some people away. But the company has no plans to release its own virtual reality headset and instead will continue to support Oculus.
Project Morpheus is Sony’s offering into the virtual reality world, designed to be used with the Playstation 4. It is not open-source, meaning that only Sony controls the development of the headset and what games it can be used with. This means that the quality of games will be high, made by large development teams on par with those that currently produce Playstation 3 and Playstation 4 games – or at least that’s the assumption. Morpheus will solely be a gaming headset, although it’s possible there may be some social activity built in to coincide with the PS4’s ‘social gaming’. Other than that though, gamers will be happy to know that Sony will attempt to make Morpheus the best virtual reality gaming headset it can be, and not lose focus by turning into something more, which is the danger with Oculus since Facebook’s acquisition.
Morpheus has a 90 degree view, unlike the Rift’s 110 degree view, which means the frames of Sony’s headset can be seen out of the corner of the eye. However, Sony designed it this way and could easily implement a 110 degree view it wanted to. The reasoning behind the 90 degree view was to accommodate both types of gamers – the ones that want to be completely immersed in the virtual world and the ones that want a reminder now and then that the real world is still there. Being able to see the headset’s frames is a reassurance.
Both VR headsets are still being developed and will not be made available to the public before plenty of games compatible with them are made. The earliest we can expect to finally play a game like we’re in it, will be 2015. Until then, just enjoy your Xbox One or your Playstation 4. They’re both great consoles even without virtual reality. So far anyway.