No PSVR2 backwards compatibility is a big missed opportunity for Sony

Sony's new PlayStation VR2 is expected to launch with less games then the original PlayStation VR headset, with 25 PSVR2 games planned vs 31 PSVR1 games.

No PSVR2 backwards compatibility is a big missed opportunity for Sony
Published Nov 2, 2022 2:12 PM CDT   |   Updated Thu, Nov 24 2022 12:04 AM CST
2 minutes & 30 seconds read time

Sony's new PlayStation VR2 headset will not play PSVR1 games, which is a pretty big deal for existing VR adopters as well as Sony.

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Unlike the PS5, which plays mostly all PS4 games, the new PSVR2 headset will not have backwards compatibility with its forebear. Sony had previously confirmed the PSVR2 would not play any PSVR1 titles and the new headset would flip a reset switch on Sony's sizable virtual reality software market.

A quick glance at the PlayStation Store reveals there are nearly 600 PlayStation VR compatible games, including those that are VR-exclusive and other titles like Tekken and Resident Evil that feature optional PSVR modes. None of these games will be playable on Sony's new headset.

Sony today announced that the PSVR2 would cost $549 with a February 2023 release. The tech itself is a big upgrade over the existing PSVR, and it's this big leap in power that is responsible for no backwards compatibility. But what about the games?

According to Sony, the PSVR2 will have over 20 games available at launch. How does that compare to the PSVR1?

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Original blog posts indicate that Sony had planned to ship 31 PlayStation VR-enabled games with the headset's launch in 2016, as well as a few more post-launch. This catalog would eventually grow to 588 games from 2016 to present day.

No PSVR2 backwards compatibility is a big missed opportunity for Sony 21

Games don't always dictate hardware adoption, though they certainly help. No one will buy a device if there's not content or experiences ready for it. Even with nearly 600 PlayStation VR games, the PlayStation VR failed to hit mainstream adoption and only sold 5 million units as of January 2020, which is a small 4% attach rate (the PSVR's 5 million sales were only 4% of the then-total PS4 shipments of 116.9 million).

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Also remember the PSVR2 requires a PS5 in order to play, so the minimal price of entry is about $1,000. That doesn't include the games, which could retail for $49.99 or so (Sony is selling Horizon Call of the Mountain, its premium first-party PSVR2 game, for $49.99).

The combination of a smaller slate of planned games, the lack of backwards compatibility, and a steep cost could deter consumers away from the headset. But VR is a niche market, and Sony knew this going into the PSVR2's development, so the headset is definitely a kind of proof-of-concept passion project that's meant to be additive to the PlayStation gaming ecosystem.

"PSVR games are not compatible with PSVR 2 because PSVR 2 is designed to deliver a truly next generation VR experience," SVP of Platform Experience Hideaki Nishino said.

"PSVR 2 has much more advanced features like an all-new controller with haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, inside-out tracking, eye-tracking, 3D audio, 4K HDR...this means developing games for PSVR 2 requires a whole different approach than the original PSVR.

"These features actually enable developers to create the worlds that feel more vivid and alive and to bring players closer to the gameplay space than ever."

"You will see heightened experience, heightened immersiveness with more precision control over the experience. You will be in there."

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Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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