Sony has recently announced the PlayStation VR, which is launching in October 2016. It features a 5.7″ OLED display, at a resolution of 1920×1080, which results in 960×1080 per eye. The device surprisingly offers a refresh rate of 120 hz, and a latency of under 18 milliseconds. While the resolution offered by the Playstation VR is lower than the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive(1080X1200 per eye), the refresh rate of the Playstation VR is actually higher, operating at up to 120 hz, while the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift operate at 90 hz.
Sony has stated at GDC that they will require games to maintain a steady 60 fps(frames per second) or higher on the Playstation VR. Games that experience frame drops below 60 will be rejected, and not allowed to be published. This is understandable, as low framerates on a VR headset can cause motion sickness, and Sony would not want a bad experience with a few games ruining the reputation of their device. Developers will be given the option to target 60, 90, or 120 fps. According to the Tech Specs on the PlayStation website, the Playstation VR can operate at either 120 hz or 90 hz. This is useful to developers, as they can then target 90 fps, and have it feel smooth, without skipping frames. 60 fps may feel too choppy to users, while 120 fps may not be attainable without sacrificing gameplay elements or graphical fidelity. At 60 fps, the display would simply be refreshed with every other frame update, with the device operating at 120 hz.
As the PlayStation 4 is not a very powerful device in comparison to high end gaming PCs, it is likely that most virtual reality apps on the PlayStation VR will not maintain a high level of graphical fidelity. The Oculus Rift requires a r9 290 as the minimum GPU, which is over twice as powerful as the PlayStation 4 in terms of raw power, not accounting for the fact that games made for consoles are generally more optimized, as they only need to target 1 device configuration, unlike PC, where there’s billions of possible hardware combinations.
Most games on consoles nowadays run at 30 fps, and some often encounter drops as low as 20 fps. Developers will need to reduce the level of graphical detail to get their apps running at the minimum 60 fps for VR. On top of that, it would still be ideal to target 90 or 120 fps for the smoothest possible experience. The PlayStation 4 should still be able to deliver a solid VR experience, but don’t expect fancy graphics similar to what you see in existing games on the platform.
It is reasonable to assume that games on the PlayStation VR won’t look as pretty as they will look on PC. But at only $399for the headset, it is the cheapest virtual reality solution available, excluding hackish solutions such as the Google cardboard, that allow you to to use your phone as a VR display. The PlayStation VR requires a PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation Camera, which are sold separately. Considering that the cost of a gaming pc that meets the minimum requirements for The Oculus Rift or HTC Vive costs roughly $1,000(assuming prebuilt and new), the PlayStation VR may bring VR to the masses at a much more affordable price.