It turns out that the light bar in Sony’s new DualShock 4 controllers was built for much more than motion based games, and that the PlayStation 4 was built by Sony with its new virtual reality headset in mind. Jed Ashforth, a senior designer with Sony, has recently admitted that the light bar functions as a tracking light for Sony’s new virtual reality platform, Project Morpheus. Furthermore, Ashforth says that he and his team had been sworn to secrecy regarding the light bar’s true purpose until the release of Project Morpheus headset in March.
The light bar, which had been hailed by certain analysts as the PlayStation 4’s most mysterious feature, has been the cause of complaints from consumers, due to the fact that it can only be dimmed, and not entirely turned off, while the controller is active. Many owners of the PlayStation 4 complained that the light reflected off of their television set, degrading the overall experience of the platform. Jed Ashforth admits that this was a concern among his team, as they could not tell consumers what the light was for in order to minimize complaints, meaning that they could only hope that the annoyance of the light bar would not significantly affect sales before its true purpose could be revealed.
The fact that the PlayStation 4 was designed and built with virtual reality in mind seems to indicate that Sony is not content with letting the Oculus Rift dominate the virtual reality market. Project Morpheus, which was revealed during March’s Game Developers Conferece, has been seen by analysts as a direct rival to Oculus Rift, the virtual reality headset recently acquired by Facebook for $2 billion. Unfortunately for Sony enthusiasts, not much information about Project Morpheus has been forthcoming since the March unveiling, with Sony waiting until next month’s E3, otherwise known as the Electronic Entertainment Expo, to release more details. Fortunately, however, Sony seems set to unveil a ton of information at E3, which is scheduled to be held in the Los Angeles Convention Center from June 10 to 12, including a preview of the new virtual reality game by nDreams.
Very little information exists regarding this game, but there is ample reason to be excited considering the credentials behind it. The game will be released for the Oculus Rift as well as Project Morpheus, and was developed by nDreams, a UK based developer formed in 2006 that has acquired a reputation as one of the largest developers in the virtual world. As such, their newest game is the subject of much speculation, and Sony is likely hoping that the game will be good enough to make up for the annoyance caused by the light bar on the DualShock 4 controllers.
Sony is well known for using its iconic PlayStation as a launching pad for technological innovations, the introduction of the Blu-ray drive in the PlayStation 3 being one of the most recent examples, and Project Morpheus has the potential to be equally significant for the Japanese conglomerate. The fact that the designers at Sony built the DualShock 4 controllers with virtual reality in mind seems to indicate that Sony wants to use the PlayStation 4 as its toehold in the virtual reality market, leaving the possibility for future expansion wide open.
By Nicholas Grabe