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VR vs. Project Morpheus at E3

Since the reveal of Project Morpheus, all the way back in March 2014 at that year’s edition of the Game Developers Conference (GDC), it feels like virtual reality (VR) fans have been waiting for a true coming out party. True, Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) gave a detailed reveal of its head-mounted display (HMD) for PlayStation 4 at that event, but there was a clear sense that it wasn’t yet ready to directly address consumers. The year that followed proved as much, with Project Morpheus making relatively quiet showings at the likes of E3 2014 and last December’s PlayStation Experience. All of that, however, is hopefully about to change.

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This year’s GDC saw SCE reveal a new and improved Project Morpheus, boasting a 1080p OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. It was still a prototype, but the announcement that a consumer launch would happen in the first half of 2016 proved that the company was ready to really start pushing its device, starting with E3.

SCE’s annual E3 press conference is arguably the most important hour and a half in the company’s calendar, year-in, year-out. As with Microsoft and Nintendo’s respective events, it’s a time when the eyes of everyone in the industry are squarely fixed on them. It’s the perfect opportunity to introduce Project Morpheus to the wider world and start talking about VR as a consumer-viable concept. With that in mind, perhaps E3 is where fans might here the official, final name for the device, with Project Morpheus serving as a codename ever since its introduction, much like how the PlayStation Vita was introduced as the NGP before receiving a full name at an E3.

Other release information may be revealed, though, with at least six months still to go until that event, we may not see all of it just yet. Pricing could be on the table; the PlayStation 4 saw a one-two punch of cost then date at both E3 and Gamescom in 2013. A specific launch date, then, could well be saved for an event later in the year; while SCE is skipping its Gamescom conference in August, Paris Games Week in October will hold one. A third show will hopefully also be held at PlayStation Experience towards the end of the year.

What many hope will take centre stage at E3, however, are the videogames. There are actually very few full titles 100% confirmed for Project Morpheus right now. CCP Games is bringing EVE: Valkyrie to the device and indies working on the likes of ARK: Survival Evolved have fleetingly mentioned support, but we’re yet to see SCE truly parade its line-up of VR titles.

This includes the company’s first-party work; SCE London Studio has created a number of impressive tech demo experiences for the device, most notably the recent London Heist piece, but hasn’t revealed a full videogame. LittleBigPlanet developer Media Molecule has also remained silent about its upcoming PlayStation 4 exclusive outside of the port of Tearaway; could Project Morpheus be the reason for that silence?

Strong third-party support is also expected. Ubisoft, a company that has traditionally taken up a slot during SCE’s show, has recently confirmed it’s working in VR. Perhaps its progress will be revealed here. As already stated, there are also numerous indie titles that could be confirmed either on-stage or through sizzle trailers. And let’s not forget that one title that everyone is secretly hoping will support VR: No Man’s Sky. It’s entirely speculation right now, but if SCE did confirmed support for one of the most anticipated upcoming titles, it could be a major win for VR.

Whatever happens, it’s clear that E3 is going to be big for VR. VRFocus will be at the show to bring you all of the latest updates on the tech.