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Why I’m cancelling my PlayStation VR pre-order (for now)


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OPINION With the spectre of the PlayStation Neo hanging over the new PlayStation VR platform, Sony’s tactics leave a lot to be desired. PS4 owner and US-reporter Chris Smith explains why he’s out, for now.

There are a lot of ways to interpret the word ‘ready.’ It can mean prepared, it can mean anticipant or excited, and, in the very British colloquial sense, a derivative can be used to describe fresh cash.

Back in February, Sony claimed the then 36 million (now 40m) PS4 owners were “ready for PlayStation VR.” With the VR revolution gathering steam, this was undoubtedly an amazing incentive, a rallying call against the demands for those high-end “Rift-ready” PCs few folks already own.

With the promise of the PS4 console occupying pride of place in my living room running a high-level virtual reality experience, I was ready. And, with such an agreeable price point compared to rivals, I made a leap of faith and splashed my readies on an unproven medium.

For PS4 owners, it seemed like a no-brainer.

Or so we thought. But, right now, I have a growing suspicion we aren’t perhaps as ready… as in prepared … as Sony led us to believe.

Thanks to recent reports and speculation, I feel there’s sufficient doubt about the current PS4’s ability to deliver future VR content for me to cancel the PlayStation VR pre-order I oh-so-excitedly made two months ago.

Sony, remember, welcomed these pre-orders with open arms, with no mention that a more powerful console was coming too. However, I can’t escape this nagging feeling that only PlayStation Neo/4.5/4K owners will be truly ready for PlayStation VR.

By all recent accounts the updated console, expected to be unveiled next month at E3 2016, will tower over 2013’s launch hardware. It’s obvious, given the extra demands of VR, that it will offer a superior experience to the standard console.

There’s something decidedly off about that when you’ve already asked consumers to hand over a significant amount of money (and it is, regardless of any favourable Rift/Vive comparisons). It leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Related: PS4.5: Everything we know so far

If that wasn’t enough, on Thursday we got wind of some more potentially worrying news for existing PS4 owners. In the latest issue of Edge Magazine, one industry CTO speculated on Sony’s reasoning for building the PlayStation 4.5 Neo, claiming VR on the original console was going to be ‘truly awful.’

“PSVR was going to be terrible on a [launch] PS4,” he reportedly said.

“It was going to be truly awful. Something a bit more powerful starts to bring VR into range. If you want to deal with crazy requirements for performance in VR, you absolutely have to do this."

We have to take this with a pinch of salt – the source may be referring to the headset in a much earlier stage of development without the extra processing box, for example. But it validates the idea the PS4 Neo exists primarily because of VR.

While our recent experiences show the launch PS4 performs well with the VR games shown so far, we can’t forget these early efforts aren’t as graphically demanding as the likes of Gran Turismo Sport might be.

Once the novelty of these early VR efforts wears thin, will launch PS4s have the power to deliver the kind of advanced experiences that will sustain my interest?

E3 will be the acid test, but it’s certainly food for thought and enough to at least give the most optimistic PS4 owners cause for concern.

To be fair, I should have been wise enough to see this coming. I should have been more cautious when Sony pitched PSVR. That’s on me.

But I, like a great many PS4 owners, was swept up in the excitement and anticipation of the oncoming VR revolution Sony promised. Now it’s subsided and this new console has leaked, we’re left with a whole mess of questions and precious few answers.

That’s why I’ve cancelled my order.

I may end up buying PSVR when it hits the market. I may even end up upgrading to a Neo if Sony can incentivise it through a trade-in.

However, what I won’t do is volunteer to be one of those unlucky test subjects who could discover the hard way on day one that Sony has sold them a pup.

Right now there’s just too much doubt. Right now, I’m not ready… in any sense of the word.

Related: Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive: Which should you buy?

Are you reconsidering you PlayStation VR pre-order? Share your thoughts in the comments

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