If, like VRFocus, you’ve been following PlayStation’s work in virtual reality (VR) over the past 18 months, then you’re probably used to the name Project Morpheus by now. Sony Computer Entertainment’s (SCE’s) anticipated head-mounted display (HMD) has gone by that codename ever since its initial reveal in March 2014. But, ultimately, it was just that; a codename. No matter how attached you got to Project Morpheus, it was always going to change, and changed it has.
As revealed during SCE’s Tokyo Game Show (TGS) press conference in Japan today, the HMD is now named PlayStation VR. Masayasu Ito, EVP, Division president of PS Product Business and VP, Software Design Division, would later explain the name change on the PlayStation Blog: “The name ‘PlayStation VR’ not only directly expresses an entirely new experience from PlayStation that allows players to feel as if they are physically inside the virtual world of a game, but it also reflects our hopes that we want our users to feel a sense of familiarity as they enjoy this amazing experience.”
PlayStation VR isn’t the most exciting final name – it’s certainly not as pun-tastic as PlayStation RealEyes – but it is a very smart one.
VR is set to become a buzzword over the next few years. It’s not there just yet in these pre-release months, though it is starting to head that way as EA proved at E3 back in June. There’s going to come a time when those 2 little letters will mean big things.
Keeping the name as simple as PlayStation VR is the best course of action from SCE. Project Morpheus was a relevant name, calling back to the iconic character from perhaps the ultimate VR movie, The Matrix, but that’s not something a mass audience will immediately pick up on. PlayStation VR needs no explanation; this is PlayStation’s take on the most exciting new technology on the horizon. That’s something that can be grasped by people following the project closely all the way over to consumers that stumble across an in-store kiosk.
And that’s the market that SCE must really be thinking about with PlayStation VR. As exciting as it is, the HMD is going to be a hard sell for many when it first launches with what will likely be a price point far beyond any previous PlayStation peripheral. But word of mouth could be a powerful factor for VR sales, and once people have tried the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, leaning that there’s a PlayStation equivalent, simply named PlayStation VR, that can just be plugged into a PlayStation 4 and not an elaborate PC setup could be the ace up SCE’s sleeve.
It’s essentially the same strategy adopted by Samsung with Gear VR, taking the well-known Gear branding and adding just those 2 letters that promise great things. We’ll be able to see how that works out for Samsung this year when the consumer Gear VR launches, which could be an early indicator of how PlayStation VR will resonate with audiences.
It also makes for snappy abbreviation. Prepare yourself for getting sick of hearing ‘PS VR’ by company executives pacing the various stages of future conferences, perhaps starting with SCE Europe’s Paris Games Week (PGW) show at the end of October 2015. But it does roll off the tongue as easily as PS2 – PS4, and could become synonymous with the technology itself in the years to come.
There’s still a long road ahead for PlayStation VR; a successful name change in no way guarantees it will be a successful product. We still have to learn about pricing, line-ups and much more before its potential and truly be measured. VRFocus will be here to report on the device every step of the way to its 2016 release.