Shuhei Yoshida: Virtual Reality and the PSVR are here to stay

Virtual Reality is touted as the biggest technological advancement in gaming. It’s considered the next step forward in the industry. One of the companies at the helm of the VR gaming movement is Sony.

The gaming giant has been working on their own virtual reality device – the PSVR – for quite some time now, and it will finally be released on October 13.

Following the success of Playstation’s conference during the 2016 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony Worldwide Studios for Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI), freed up some time for group interviews to discuss their press conference, the PSVR, and the future of virtual reality gaming.

On their press conference

It can be argued that the Playstation conference was one of the most talked about shows as it was packed with several beloved titles and exciting new ones.

Yoshida himself was excited to see these games and stated that he was happy for the development teams that worked on the titles that were presented.

“Because we announced many new titles, I cannot pick one highlight,” he said. “I am so happy for the teams like the Santa Monica team who worked on God of War and the Bend Studio team who worked on Days Gone.”

“Lots of people spend lots of time developing these games and the reactions was great so I am very happy for the teams that created these games.”

It’s all about listening to the people

We can say that Playstation’s massive success not only for this year’s E3 but also for this entire console generation is due to the fact that they have been consistently listening to their fans.

Yoshida himself is known for having his own Twitter account and he uses it constantly to connect and speak with gamers.

“Every morning, when I wake up, when I check the Twitter timeline there are some people complaining about something, making suggestions, asking for new features, new titles, and that's a great input for me to be able to communicate to the company.” he said.

“We continue to try to listen to what people say to us,” Yoshida continued.

Being able to connect with the fans allowed Yoshida and his team to identify a particular fan favorite classic to remaster.

“One of the announcements that was met with lots of excitement was the announcement for Crash Bandicoot remaster. That was one of the top requests from people and we are totally aware that there are lots of people who like to play Crash Bandicoot with the high definition current technologies,” Yoshida said.

Yoshida is also excited to see Crash Bandicoot be brought back to life as he was part of the localization team for the game.

PSVR. A player tries out PlayStation VR near the Farpoint area. Photo by Nadine Pacis

PSVR. A player tries out PlayStation VR near the Farpoint area.

Photo by Nadine Pacis

VR is here to stay

About half of the Playstation conference was dedicated to the PSVR. In fact, VR has been Playstation’s main focus since last year when it was first unveiled as Project Morpheus.

While there have been a few outspoken naysayers claiming virtual reality gaming is just a fad, Playstation remains fully committed to VR gaming.

When asked if he believed VR gaming is just a temporary fad Yoshida made a firm statement: “No, not at all and ask many people. More people believe in VR. It's a new media. It's new tech.”

Yoshida also believes that VR is not only just for gaming and that the technology has all the potential to spread out to different industries that need it. “VR is super important for human beings, I think. We will all benefit from the use of virtual reality technologies in the future,” he said.

“Not just games and not just entertainment but all kinds of applications will be created using virtual reality technology and we are just starting,” he continued.

Indeed, while VR is just on its early stages we can see it changing the gaming landscape as we speak. E3 2016 is a testament to that as most of the major companies participating had their own VR experiences set-up at their booths.

Because of this, Yoshida is excited to see what gaming developers can come up with for the PSVR and VR gaming in general. “All the developers who are working on the PSVR titles or any VR titles for a PC are learning a lot. Making games or experiences for VR is very different from making games for the regular TVs,” he said.

“Some of the early titles are providing already amazing exciting experiences. And I cannot imagine what kind of gaming experiences these people, these teams will create after they have finished their first title and work on the second title with all the learnings that they have had with the first one. So it's super exciting,” he exclaimed.

On PSVR pricing

Producing great exclusive titles is not the only impressive factor that can compel gamers to buy into the PSVR. The price of the device itself is cheaper than other devices on the market and many wonder how Sony managed to pull it off. 

Yoshida explained that aside from their extensive experience in creating hardware, the fact that they have developed the PSVR to stand alongside the PS4 has given them the advantage.

"Because we've been making hardware for the longest time we have a very strong engineering design team who created the PSVR. Also, the PSVR and PS4 were developed side-by-side so we designed PS4 and PSVR to work really well together, to have a very tight integration,” he said.

Yoshida also said that they have developed the PSVR with the same approach as the PS4 in which they developed all parts of the system so that they can have high end performance hardware while lowering the retail cost.

PSVR’s next step

If you are already thinking about how the cycle of VR devices will go, you can expect that it will take a longer while for the “next-gen” VR device to come into play. It’s not just because this is only the first year of VR gaming.

Sony wants to start strong with their first VR device. Despite its low cost, the PSVR’s specs aren’t to be looked down upon. Its OLED display is 1080p and it has a high frame rate of 120 FPS. And because it has been built for the PS4, we can expect more stable graphic and gameplay performance.

With that said, Yoshida believes that the current PSVR can last a long time before it needs to be upgraded.

“I think PSVR is an amazing system and like I said, with 1080p and a 120 hertz high performance OLED display, you can make amazing experiences for many, many years. I think in the couple of years there are a lot more that can be made using VR,” he explained.

However, just because we won’t be looking at a device upgrade anytime soon, doesn’t mean that we can’t expect more changes to the way we play with the PSVR. Yoshida said that there are a lot of things that can still be done to improve the interface and controls. Giving one of their latest VR games, Far Point, as an example he stated that “there are a lot that can be done to add to the experience of each title.”

“For Far Point we developed a specific gun controller that when you see your amazing looking space gun and you can feel the touch of the peripheral, it really creates a sensation that you are within the world. So more and more efforts will be made to create some specific title experiences.”

It’s easy to raise so many questions about the PSVR and VR gaming itself as majority of the market is yet to try the device and the titles that come with it. But with what we’ve seen and experienced so far at E3 2016 and at events prior to that, we’ll have to agree with Yoshida. VR gaming is here, and it’s here to stay. – Rappler.com