When the HTC Vive was launched to compete with the Oculus Rift, many critics and analysts noted that the Oculus Rift was not at a disadvantage without its own tracked motion controllers. Oculus answered with the launch of the Oculus Touch. It seemed clear that virtual reality (VR) needed motion control as an option, so the PlayStation VR launched with compatibility with the PlayStation Move. Technology has moved on, however, is what was once an asset now a liability?
The PlayStation Move was originally launched back in 2010 for the PlayStation 3, essentially acting as a competitor to the Nintendo Wii and its Wiimote, which was dominating sales at the time. The device has an accelerometer and the glowing orbs on the end could be tracked using the PlayStation Eye camera. While it reviewed well among critics of the time, response by consumers was lacklustre, and it never achieved the support from developers of consumers that Sony had hoped for.
When the PlayStation VR was announced, the need for motion control meant that Sony dragged the PlayStation Move out of whichever dusty closet it had been thrown in in the hopes that integration with VR would revive the technology. Along with the improved version of the PlayStation Camera, Sony hopes that brand recognition and the lower price compared to its rivals on PC would attract customers. Which was largely true. However, there is no escaping the fact that the PlayStation VR often ends up relying on motion control technology which is a generation out of date, and is lacking in accuracy compared to the HTC Vive wands or the Oculus Touch.
Indeed, titles which have been ported to the PlayStation VR from other VR platforms often suffer in the accuracy department compared to other versions. Part of the effort to address this problem, which frequently cropped up in shooters where accuracy was key, led to the creation of the Aim controller, which offered true 1-to-1 controls in titles such as Arizona Sunshine and the title it was released with, Farpoint.
There’s another issue that is less commonly addressed: Ergonomics. The Vive Wands and Oculus Touch controllers are designed to be ergonomic and comfortable to hold for long periods. This is not something that can be said of the Move controllers, which due to the design and lack of contour ridges, can be difficult to hold for long periods, and can get slick with sweat, making them slippery. Many users prefer to simply use the Dual Shock 4 controller instead where the option is available, pointing to its superior ergonomics, and often to its improved motion tracking due to updated technology.
With the upcoming Vive Knuckles controllers, which are offering individual finger tracking for a more immersive experience, the PlayStation Move begins to look like a relic from a bygone era in comparison.
The PlayStation Move integration with the PlayStation VR was an excellent solution for the time of launch, but VR is one area where technology is moving so fast that companies have to run to keep up. Sony may want to at least consider breaking into a jog before they get left behind.