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The bizarre way Sony is supporting PSVR on PlayStation 5

When the PlayStation 5 launches on Nov. 12, it will be the only next-generation console to support VR gaming using its PlayStation VR headset. However, Sony revealed that the PlayStation 5's HD Camera accessory will not recognize PSVR components.

Sony does have an answer for this riddle. However, the reality of the PlayStation 5's support for the existing PSVR technology is a little convoluted. A significant number of PlayStation 4 era components are required, including a few that surprised gamers. In order to use a PSVR headset with PS5, players need to have either PS Move controllers or a DualShock 4 to interact with the PS4's PlayStation Camera. Furthermore, that camera utilizes an AUX cord, which requires a port the PlayStation 5 does not have.

In anticipation of these incompatibilities, Sony launched a website where current headset owners can enter the serial code from their PSVR unit and get a free AUX to USB-Type-A adapter shipped to their address. This adapter, expected to arrive sometime between October and December, will allow full VR compatibility for PSVR owners on PS5.

Unfortunately, Sony's rollout of the adapter program wasn't the smoothest. Shuhei Yoshida, who oversees the department of Sony that supports indie developers, posted a link to the site to order the free camera adapter when it launched on Oct. 28. The post received over a hundred responses, some from thankful Sony customers. Many others, though, expressed frustration as the website became overloaded, captchas became unresponsive, and serial numbers weren't being recognized.

Competition between the next generation of consoles is shaping up to be fierce this holiday season, with Microsoft and PlayStation releasing their new consoles within two days of one another. The announcement that the PlayStation 5 would continue to offer support for the currently available PSVR technology might help push consumers over to Sony's side, as the Series X has no current or planned VR support.

The fact that the vast majority of PlayStation 4 titles are backward compatible with PlayStation 5, including all but two VR games, could build even more enthusiasm for Sony's new console. After all, when the PlayStation 5 launches in November, it will become the only way to enjoy VR experiences without investing in an expensive gaming computer.

While the fact that many PlayStation 4 accessories will work on the PlayStation 5 is great news for current PlayStation owners, it may make things more complicated for new adopters. The various incompatibilities of Sony's current VR technology mean that consumers who are buying the PlayStation 5 with VR in mind might end up paying more than they expect. Having to purchase the PSVR headset, a PlayStation Camera, multiple PS Move controllers, and a DualShock 4 could increase the price of entry for new VR gamers. However, Sony's history of bundling PSVR products together might lower the price point enough to attract latecomers to the VR scene.

The confusing nature of Sony's VR crossover technology has helped propel rumors about a new PSVR headset. Designing proprietary technology that was compatible with the PlayStation 5 right out of the box would be an even better sell for Sony to entice consumers interested in VR experiences from their new console. Considering that Sony's current generation of PSVR devices arrived four years ago, the time seems right for a new headset built with the new console in mind.

In addition, a variety of patents filed by Sony in 2020 discovered by Let's Go Digital detailed a new wireless headset and controller that could be the next iteration of the PSVR system. However, with no official announcement from Sony, those devices' arrival seems unlikely to occur anytime near the launch of the new console.

Also of interest is how much a new PSVR system might cost. The original PSVR launched at $500, although a starter bundle is available now for around $200. It's possible a new PSVR unit could debut at a high price, too, with some speculating the final price could reach $800.

Sony has a history of high profile hardware launch mishaps. The confusing PSVR compatibility problems and adapter ordering difficulties reminded some on Twitter of past misfires. While Sony's initiative to support VR technology from the launch of the PlayStation 5 is encouraging for VR enthusiasts, fans will have to wait and see if it makes a difference to consumers this winter.