At CES 2022, Sony announced the official specs for the much-anticipated Playstation VR2. Here are its advantages and disadvantages, and how it might beat the popular Quest 2.
Why are we even comparing Playstation VR2 and Quest 2?
Quest 2 is a standalone VR headset, while Playstation VR2 is a tethered VR headset… Why are the two even being compared? That’s because Quest 2 can also be used as a desktop VR headset. Some people are surprised to learn that Quest 2 has been the most popular desktop VR headset since March 2021, and its market share of desktop VR gaming just keeps growing. As of January 2022, 40% of SteamVR users use Quest 2 as their desktop VR headset, more than all other non-Oculus VR headsets combined.
PSVR 2 vs Quest 2 comparison
Playstation VR2 Advantages:
Better Display: PSVR2 will use OLED displays with a resolution of 2000 x 2040, compared to the Quest 2’s LCD displays with a resolution of 1832 x 1920 per eye. One important consideration is that we don’t know yet what subpixel arrangement the VR2 will use. The first-generation Playstation VR used OLED with RGB layout, which has 3 subpixels per pixel, which will look more detailed than a pentile layout with only 2 subpixels per pixel. Hopefully, PSVR 2 will also use RGB. In any case, OLED will result in much deeper black levels.
Eye Tracking: The VR2 features eye tracking, which is not available on the Quest 2. With eye tracking, characters can react more naturally to the user — for example, by following the user’s gaze. Eye tracking might also be used for navigating through menus more intuitively.
Foveated Rendering: VR2 uses eye tracking for foveated rendering, which means that it will use high quality rendering only for the area that the user is looking at, and will use lower quality rendering for everything outside that. This means it will be possible for VR2 to produce higher apparent image quality than a system that doesn’t have foveated rendering.
4K HDR: At CES 2022, Sony claimed that the VR2 will have a 4k HDR display. They did not elaborate on what they meant but it likely means a wider gamut compared to non-HDR displays, presumably including the Quest 2.
Haptic feedback on headset: Playstation VR2 will have haptic feedback not just on the controllers but on the headset itself. It could be used to add impact when your character gets hit, for example.
Trigger Effect: The PSVR2’s Sense Controllers have variable resistance on its L2 and R2 triggers. For example, if your character is crushing a rock, the triggers could initially use strong resistance, then suddenly give way when the rock is pulverized.
Refresh Rate: The PSVR2 supports refresh rates of 90 hz and 120 hz. The Quest 2 can also support up to 120 hz but only in a handful of games. Its standard refresh rate is 90 hz.
Quest 2 Advantages
Standalone: Quest 2 can be used as a standalone VR device, which makes it easier to simply pick up and play, or to take it to a friend’s house.
Wireless: One of the key features of the Quest 2 is that it is both a wireless standalone VR headset, and can also be used as a wireless headset for desktop VR. Because the Quest 2 is wireless, it feels much more immersive. Your VR experience will never be rudely interrupted by cables entangling you. As for PSVR2, it is unfortunately not wireless and is instead connected to the PS5 via a USB Type C cable.
Library: Quest 2 has the largest library of VR games and apps, especially if you include Oculus desktop games and SteamVR games. It will take a long while for Playstation VR2 to catch up to it, if ever. On the other hand, PSVR2 games might have a higher average budget and higher average production value than Quest 2 games but we don’t know yet for sure.
Utilities: PSVR2 is purely a gaming and entertainment device whereas Meta is adding features to make the Quest 2 useful for working in VR, such as supporting keyboards that are visible in VR.
Price: Sony hasn’t announced the price for the PSVR 2 yet, but it will be hard to beat the Quest 2’s price, which starts at just $299.
Project Cambria: Lurking in the background is Project Cambria, which is the next prosumer-grade VR headset from Oculus. It is likely to have advanced features including eye tracking, foveated rendering, and full color passthrough for mixed reality. Will it be affordable? Will it have enough games? We don’t know yet.
How Playstation VR2 could beat Quest 2
Although Playstation VR2 has several advantages on paper, Quest 2 is currently the most popular VR headset, with than 10 million units sold thus far, according to a statement from Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon in November 2021. Nonetheless, Playstation VR2 could become more popular than Quest 2 for desktop VR gaming because of one crucial factor: the soaring prices of graphics cards.
Quest 2 can be used not just as a standalone VR headset but also for desktop VR. In fact, according to the most recent Steam survey, Quest 2 is by far the most popular desktop VR headset, with 39.62% of Steam VR users using it, a number that could even be understated because some users might not have their Quest 2 connected to their PC at the time of the survey.
The problem with using the Quest 2 as a desktop VR headset is that you need a VR-ready PC, which requires a powerful graphics card. Unfortunately, in the past couple of years, the price of graphics cards have become inflated due to high demand from cryptocurrency miners. Even the most basic VR-ready graphics cards such as the GTX 1650 (MSRP $160) are selling for more than double the MSRP (over $329).
It is true that as of January 2022, the price of cryptocurrencies have declined as much as 40% from their peak. Nonetheless, the demand — and price — of VR-ready graphics cards have not abated, nor is there any reason to expect them to go down anytime in the foreseeable future given that demand for VR has only increased during the pandemic.
The high cost of VR-ready graphics cards creates an opportunity for the Playstation VR2 to overtake the Quest 2 for desktop VR gaming because you don’t need to look for a graphics card. On the other hand, the VR2 will require a Playstation 5 console, which is still hard to find. PS5s are being resold by scalpers for at least $599 for the digital edition, a markup of $200 over the $399 MSRP. It’s almost as outrageous as the markup for graphics cards.
On the other hand, gaming consoles have often been sold at a premium near their launch. Prices have eventually come back to the MSRP when supplies catch up with demand. Right now, supplies are constrained by disruptions in manufacturing due to COVID but I am supposing that manufacturers will eventually adjust, PS5 will become more common, and prices will come down. When that happens, Playstation VR2 could become significantly more affordable than Quest 2 for desktop VR gaming, possibly overtaking the Quest 2.