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VR could be biggest for non-gaming uses - Sony exec

SCEA CEO Shawn Layden talks about Morpheus' potential, surprising demand for Vita

Project Morpheus is the next big thing for PlayStation, but Sony Computer Entertainment America CEO Shawn Layden thinks it might be bigger still beyond the world of games. Speaking with Forbes, Layden said games could go down as a mere foothold for the technology's expansion into culture at large.

"Now I think the entry point for VR is going to be from the gaming community, because [gamers] are accustomed to being on the bleeding edge and trying new things," Layden said, adding, "[But] the more linear content folks, they want to get into this thing seriously. We have dozens, if not hundreds, of inquiries coming in from TV production houses, movie studios, record companies, sports arenas, museums, scientific and aerospace organizations, all coming to look at this technology and how it can speak to them. I think over time, the non-gaming applications of VR are really going to explode and perhaps even be larger than the gaming piece."

Layden also stressed that Sony sees Morpheus as more than just another peripheral for the PlayStation 4.

"It's not a, 'here's the latest way to interact with the game' thing," Layden said. "It's a platform. It has the ability to impact gaming the same way that smart phones [changed] cell phones... before it was, 'I can talk to a person, I can text a person, what more do I need?' But then the smart phone came out and it's like, wow, I can do all that in my hand? I think Morpheus is going to have a similar impact on gaming or entertainment consumption."

The executive also discussed something many in the industry assumed was part of Sony's past rather than its future: the PlayStation Vita. When asked about its near-absence from Sony's E3 media briefing, Layden called it a strong platform for indie developers who might not have the budget for AAA PS4 titles, and said it remains "a very vital and vibrant platform in the crucial Japan and Asia markets." Even in the US, Layden said Sony was happy with the handheld's performance.

"In fact, we sold more than we had internally targeted last year," Layden said. "We saw some issues in the market last year with supply constraint, which was kind of a surprise. I still believe it's the best handheld gaming experience as far as what it brings you from technology and screen resolution. PlayStation Now, our streaming gaming service, is supported by Vita, so that's bringing new users. And the fact that Vita got to support remote play for PS4, that caused a huge spike in sales, which we're still kind of chasing."

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Latest comments (3)

Paul Shirley Programmers 3 years ago
Am I the only one thinking there's a lot of wishful thinking, 3D TV all over again? I can believe the traditional strongholds of VR in business and research will feast on the new hardware, gamers less so. But I expect apathy from "linear media" consumers, who won't have the hardware forced on them like 3D TV was, which still didn't create huge demand for content.

Going to be fun watching this play out though ;)
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Jamie Firth Video Games Production 3 years ago
My initial thought was 3DTV too. BUT, whilst I think it might be unsuitable and will die a swift death for more core games, I think that for experience-driven content it could work really well.
Think of experiences like Dear Esther, Stanley Parable, Proteus and beyond games: Concerts, theatre, Safaris, history, space-walks... THAT's where I think VR can really flourish.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 3 years ago
Add the Total Perspective Vortex while we are at it.
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