PSVR 2’s Lack Of Backward Compatibility Is A Necessary Sacrifice
Sony has confirmed that the upcoming PlayStation VR 2 will not be backward compatible for existing games across the medium. This means that, at least out of the box, none of the existing games available for its predecessor will work with the headset. Not just a case of lacking compatibility or some funny business due to the different technology, none of them will work at all. All of these games you bought and invested time in are now forfeit.
On the surface this really sucks, and is a massive oversight for a space in games that remains difficult for casual audiences to adopt. PlayStation VR was a huge success, and was clearly responsible for so many jumping into this environment for the first time. I threw my parents into Job Simulator and Superhot before watching their little minds get blown because of how much this innovative new frontier is capable of. Until the release of Oculus Quest 2, this was as good as virtual reality got, and now all that hard work has been torn away. But the logical part of me understands why, and knows this move is for the best.
PlayStation VR was a bit of a nightmare. It was a mess of thick cables, an external power supply, and clearly strung together by outdated tech that wasn’t ready. Sony even made use of Move controllers that hadn’t been relevant since 2009, and didn’t seek to update them or create something worthwhile to rival its competitors. Now we are seeing that advancement materialise, and it looks incredible, but the cost of progress is leaving behind what came before. I bought a lot of PSVR games, perhaps too many, and considered myself an avid supporter of the hardware because I knew what it was capable of. Games like Moss, Astro Bot, Blood and Truth, and dozens of patches for existing games showed that not only was this console headset easy to use, it was also doing more than its PC counterparts.
You couldn’t mod the thing and had to deal with a fairly modest graphical standard, but knowing it was running on an underpowered console and still did so much was incredible. Its successor plans to build on that legacy, and from a technological standpoint is a very different beast. It makes use of inside out tracking thus negating the need for a camera, while its increased field of view and rendering techniques ensure that its visuals are not only sharper than ever, but make sure our eyes are focusing on the right things at the right time.
The frame rate is higher, the resolution is enhanced, and the controllers themselves are designed to take advantage of bespoke feedback and specific functions that the previous headset just wasn’t capable of. It supports 4K and HDR to boot, so my eyes are already watering at how much this thing will cost. Sony has updated so much that it’s possible the platform isn’t capable of backward compatibility anymore, or the technology utilised in this new iteration doesn’t play nice with games that were developed within such strict confines. It still sucks, and I definitely assumed its presence would be a given, but I’d much rather PC-quality VR experiences are immediately made possible instead of this new headset being held hostage by what came before. Leave it behind if it betters the end result.
I want a VR headset on console that can play games like Half-Life Alyx, No Man’s Sky, Tetris Effect, Beat Saber, Moss, The Walking Dead, and countless others without being rendered like a 360p YouTube video. On PlayStation VR it always felt like I could have been doing better if I had more money or the patience to tolerate a PC setup, and it feels like its PSVR2 wants to close that gap and show console owners what they’ve been missing. If ditching a back catalogue that had to strictly operate by those restrictions is necessary to move forward, I can’t help but view it as the right move. Of course I wish there was a workaround or a way to make the best case scenario possible, but if there isn’t, I’m still on board.
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