The Good, The Bad, & the Ugly (A Rant about PSVR2)
Contributed by DJMMT
I preordered my PSVR2, because I saw reports that production had been limited, ironically due to a lack of preorders, and I wanted to make sure that I would be able to get one. Having now owned the headset for a few weeks, I have to say that I regret making the purchase. Ironically, most of my complaints have little to do with the headset itself and mostly to do with how everything else tied to the headset is being mismanaged and/or incorrectly priced. So I’m gonna talk about all those issues in this post and say little about the actual headset.
Personally, I have yet to try out a VR headset that I would describe as comfortable. I’ve tried several including Oculus, Vive, PSVR, and some other more obscure headsets you’ve probably never heard of. While some are more comfortable than others, I wouldn’t describe any of them as comfortable to wear. But that makes sense since you literally have to mount a screen to your face. That being said, it’s admittedly hard to get the PSVR2 to feel right on your head. I think it’s because they want you to wear the back under the curve of your skull, as opposed to the direct back of your head, but comfort is subjective anyway, so it’s not really fair to fault Sony for that. The headset actually does provide a number of physical adjustment features to try to make it fit and feel as comfortable as possible. So that’s fine.
What I will complain about at a physical mechanics level is that the headset doesn’t have enough manual lens adjustment features. There is a single wheel to adjust the distance between lenses, which is important. But there is no manual adjustment for lens focus and distance relevant to your face. It needs something akin to binoculars, where you can manually adjust the focus of the lenses. Nor does it let you change the distance of the lenses without changing the placement of the front of the headset. So either you have to make the whole thing too tight or too loose while trying to get the lenses to sit in the right place for the best focus for your eyes. It’s because of this that things never look quite right. Especially at the edges of the screen. At first I thought it might just be my eyes, which are pretty good, but then I let multiple other people try the headset and talked to other people who bought one. We all kind of had the same issue. The edges of the screen, especially when it comes to text, tend to be a bit blurry due to an inability to manually focus the lenses. Thankfully, this doesn’t make the games unplayable, as the entire point of VR is the ability to turn your head towards what you want to focus on. It really only becomes a problem when looking at menus in the PS5 UI and for older games that don’t offer full 360-degree play. That being said, it’s a pretty ridiculous problem to have for a headset that costs this much.
Another major issue PSVR2 has is charging. Not the headset, as that’s wired, but the controllers. For some reason, Sony thought it was OK to put out a headset that needs two wireless controllers, but only provided one charging cable that can only be used on one port on the PS5. Now, there are third party alternatives you can use to fix this problem, but those don’t count in a conversation about what Sony sold me for $550 (not including the customary Taiwan markup). I don’t really understand how Sony didn’t just create a USB Type-C Y-cable that lets you charge both controllers at the same time with one USB port. The technology already exists. The controllers actually charge pretty fast. But that doesn’t change the fact that you can’t charge them both at the same time out of the box. They want you to spend $50 on a charging station.
Now I happen to like accessories, so while it’s absolutely ridiculous that you need to spend $50 on a charging station in order to charge both of your PSVR2 controllers at the same time with first party hardware, I was willing to pay that. The problem is that Sony limited production of the charging station. Now admittedly I did not preorder the charging station, because that is not a thing. Normal people don’t preorder accessories. I’ve been playing home console video games since the NES. You preorder consoles. You preorder games. You might preorder limited edition branded controllers. No normal person has ever realistically needed to preorder a basic accessory like a controller charger. That’s not the capitalist hellscape we live in. So I was shocked to find out that I couldn’t get a charging station the day I got my PSVR2. I went to, and no this is not an exaggeration, 15 different game stores in Taipei, and all of them were sold out of the charging station. They weren’t even all sold out of the PSVR2. They just didn’t have the charging station. I was literally in shock. I have never before struggled, in seven generations of console gaming, to find a basic accessory. It’s unprecedented. But ironically I’m glad I didn’t get to buy one, because now I’m seeing reports that those release version charging stations have a design flaw and are burning controllers. So I guess there’s a silver lining to Sony screwing up this badly with supply. Now, let’s talk about the thing I’m most irritated about concerning the PSVR2: software.
So, I’m not actually a VR guy. I don’t really care for the technology. But I do in general care about new developments in gaming tech, so I felt it was time to take a serious look at VR, now that we’re multiple generations into consumer grade VR headsets. That’s the only reason I decided to buy one. And clearly that was a mistake. More specifically, I probably should have gone for a PC VR headset, because the game offerings on PSVR2 are a combination of limited, mediocre, and obscenely overpriced.
One of the major reasons I wanted PSVR2 was all the PSVR1 games I already “own.” I put own in quotes because I got the bulk of those VR games through my PS+ subscription. But the word own has always been in question for gamers and digital software, so I’m gonna use the term own in this context knowing that it’s probably not the most accurate term. In any case, I have access to several PSVR1 games. Many of which I really want to play. The list includes Astro Bot Rescue Mission, Moss Book 1 & 2, and Tetris Effect: Connected. Sony did say in advance that PSVR1 games would not be natively compatible with PSVR2. But there was an understanding that many of the games would ported to PSVR2, which they were and continue to be. In fact, a large number of the games currently available on PSVR2 are just ports of old games. Some of which were PSVR1 games and others were just older games that were ported to PSVR2 for whatever reason. What I did not expect was that these ports would be released at such exorbitant prices.
A lot of these PSVR2 games are mid at best. And most of the PSVR2 ports are charging full price. Anywhere from $20 - $70, not counting the few discounts currently available on some, but not all or even most, PSVR2 games. Additionally, many of these games don’t even offer a PS5 upgrade price, like normal PS4 games do. This problem is especially annoying for games like Tetris Effect: Connected where I already own a PC copy of the game and a PS4 copy of a game, via PS+, and am still being asked to pay $40 to play it on PSVR2. That’s $40 for a port of a Tetris game that’s been out since 2018. Let me be clear, Tetris Effect: Connected is a phenomenal Tetris game. I’ll go as far as saying that it’s the best Tetris game ever made since the original Tetris (1984). But the port of the port of a five-year-old Tetris game is in no way worth $40 in 2023. That’s just not how the games market works. This isn’t Nintendo Switch, where yes, the game is also being sold for $40; but that shouldn’t surprise anyone. And this isn’t the only PSVR2 port not offering a reduced price to upgrade PSVR1/PS4 titles.
Note that I’m not saying that PSVR2 games shouldn’t be sold for AAA MSRP. I paid full price (bundle price) for Horizon Call of the Mountain. I haven’t finished it yet, so I can’t comment of whether or not it’s actually worth the $60 price tag. But I can say that at face value this is a AAA VR title on PS5, meaning that the price tag falls in line with new AAA games on the platform. That’s fine. But there’s a difference between brand new AAA titles and ports of games that are several years old. These products shouldn’t be in even remotely the same pricing category. Remember that the recently released Metroid Prime Remastered on Switch launched for only $40. So again I ask, how is it that a five year old port of a Tetris game is being sold at the same price as a new Switch release during the launch window of the PSVR2? Why isn’t this and all the other PSVR2 port titles being sold at a significant discount?
The fact that there wasn’t a special PSVR2 port sale at the launch of the headset is a majorly missed opportunity on Sony’s part. Games should have been given away to promote the sale of a $550 accessory that you have to already own an expensive console to use. Now eventually all these games will go sale. Thus is the way of games outside of the Nintendo ecosystem. But in terms of being a day 1 PSVR2 owner, I’m extremely disappointed. I can live with the fact that there’s only a limited selection of games at this point. I can even deal with the fact that most of them are ports. But charging full price for those ports when many of them aren’t even new to the PS5 at the time of PSVR2 launch is no bueno. Day 1 buyers should have been able to drop no more than $100, on top of already having bought the headset, and ended up with an easy 5 – 10 PSVR2 compatible ported games that were at the very least titles people have heard of. And really, they should have added a number of those ports to PS+ Extra to begin with. At this point, I haven’t used my PSVR2 much. I’ve played a number of demos, but most of the games I really want to play either aren’t available on PSVR2 yet or are way too expensive to justify purchasing before a big sale. It’s disappointing. My advice to anyone considering buying the headset is to wait. It’s just not where it needs to be to justify right now.