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Sony Thinks of VR Devs as ‘tour guides’, not just ‘Content Providers’

As anyone that has worked with the technology will know, virtual reality is set to dramatically change the rules of videogame development. While some more traditional experiences and methods can work in VR, there’s a whole new rulebook to be written about the dos and don’ts of making content for head-mounted displays (HMDs). As such, the role of the developer itself is changing, so much so that Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) recently labelled these studios as ‘tour guides’ instead of ‘content providers’.

PlayStation VR headset

Jed Ashforth, Senior Designer at SCE Europe, made this distinct during his ‘An Insight into PlayStation VR Game Design’ talk at the 2016 VRUK festival in London, UK earlier this week. Addressing these studios directly, Ashforth noted: “Rather than saying you’re delivering content, we say to the developers that you’re the host for the visitors in this experience.” This also tied in to his comments about making sure that VR users are going in to experiences knowing what to expect in order for teams to gage the proper reaction from them.

“You’re tour guides, you’re hosts now, not just content providers,” Ashforth later added. As such, it’s up to developers to ensure that any player has a smooth, comfortable experience with VR, to which there are a wide range of factors to consider.

That means that PlayStation VR, SCE’s upcoming HMD for the PlayStation 4, has something along the lines of 200 tour guides right now, each developing new worlds to explore. The device itself consists of a 1080p OLED display that boasts a 120Hz refresh rate. Experiences that are running natively at 60fps on PlayStation 4 can then be ‘reprojected’ at 120fps HMD, though an option to display titles in a native 90fps is also available.

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