Sony announced today that its virtual reality headset, Project Morpheus, is no more. It’s now going by the new name, PlayStation VR.
It announced the change today at the Tokyo Games Show Sony press conference, though still gave precious little indication of when exactly we’re likely to get our eyeballs glued to the new PS VR headset.
Your first reaction to the name-change is probably going to be similar to mine. I’ve had messy sneezes that sounded like a better name for a company’s most exciting new bit of hardware in years.
But while Project Morpheus does have a far more badass ring to it - evoking the intrigue and excitement of The Matrix which existed before the Wachowski brothers ruined it all with their nonsensical sequels - it simply doesn’t say enough for a device that could be the first mainstream VR headset ever.
The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive will work out fine with their naming schemes, but no matter the huge media attention, they’re not going to be mass market items, at least not at launch.
For a start you’ll need a beefy PC to get the most out of either device - the Xbox One’s weird virtual theatre Rift thing just isn’t really VR - which will instantly make them a far more niche offering. They’re also likely to be far more expensive than Sony’s PlayStation VR.
The audience for these headsets then are already going to be informed enough that they will have been following the names for a good while and know what they’re getting.
PlayStation VR is a different beast though.
It’s not as high-end an offering, being designed to work purely for the PlayStation 4 console and its limited hardware. And with nearly 25 million of those consoles out in the wild it’s got an enormous user base ready for its VR headset right from launch.
But not all those PS4 users will have been following the latest rise of VR that closely. So to make sure every one of those gamers can immediately understand what Sony’s VR hardware is the rather tedious PlayStation VR name is the only one that really makes sense.
As Masayasu Ito, Sony’s President of Product Business, says: "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."
And familiarity is the key word here.
You could also argue that, while pretty much every Rift or Vive headset will be purchased by the person that will go on to use them with their PC, there may well be a lot of parental units being tasked with buying the new PS4’s VR hardware for their kids.
Asking the VR-uneducated to remember ‘Project Morpheus’ might be a bit much, but having them walk into the nearest GAME store and ask for ‘that PlayStation VR thing’ is a much more feasible task.
There’s still no official release date, or even pricing, for the new PlayStation VR, but with a likely release early next year and Sony’s precedent of aggressive pricing on expensive hardware, it’s got a great chance of being the biggest VR headset of 2016.