I normally wouldn’t be excited about a motion-sensitive, virtual reality game, but Sony’s The PlayRoom is actually looking quite impressive.
More a fun little distraction to share with your friends than a real game, The PlayRoom looks fun, creative, and from what we can tell so far, it actually works. The concept is simple: you sit in front of your TV and characters on-screen come to life. Whether it’s by swatting at bots and having them react accordingly, or by the characters interacting with your environment, it actually looks like a fun way to entertain your friends, kids, and even grandparents.
In a demo shown on IGN.com, a bunch of little bots were thrown onto the screen and the players were able to interact with them, both by swatting at them, kicking them, or even giving them items to play with. They were even able to play peekaboo with them (which yes, I know, sounds kind of silly, but it’s an entertaining feature), and it was fun to see how they reacted. You can even create your own items to use in-game via an official app on your handheld device.
Additionally, the DualShock 4 controller comes to life as well. In the demo, the bots that were on-screen were vacuumed up by the controller, and then the players were able to hear the bots as if they were inside the controller getting jostled around.
The demo wasn’t very long, but there were a lot of cool little things that were shown but went unmentioned. For example, when one of the players stood up to grab something, the bots were kicked and went scurrying to get out of the way. As an observer, it really felt like they were there getting stepped on. I was impressed with how real it felt, even when only watching a video of a video.
It’s free, but are you sold?
The PlayRoom is coming pre-installed on every PlayStation 4, though it will require the additional purchase of the PS4 Camera. DLC is already in development and will be added into the game for free. It seems like Sony is using this opportunity as a chance to show both gamers and developers what’s possible. Whether it is to entice gamers to buy the camera, or to convince developers that amazing motion-controlled content is truly possible on PS4 remains to be seen – though it may be both.
With Sony making the camera optional, they have to come up with a way to convince people it’s a necessary accessory. Not bundling in the camera with the console at launch may sway some budget-conscious consumers into purchasing their console over the more expensive Xbox One. But they have undoubtedly invested a large amount of money into the technology, so why not use it?
Like I said, I have never been a big motion-gaming fan, mostly because developers seem to try to force these concepts into our hardcore games. I don’t need to yell at my screen to change ammo or perform a spell. I don’t want to actually jump to climb up a wall. These things actually take away from the experience rather than adding immersion. But if Sony adds more experiences like these, that are more like toys or distractions than actual hardcore games, I could see it not only being something I would use, but something that could help sell systems.