Sony plans to boost the esports spectator experience through VR
Sony have recently filed a patent that aims to use virtual reality to boost our enjoyment of watching esports tournaments. The project would see an array of virtual reality cameras and sensors being used to help anybody feel like they were attending a real-life esports tournament, and also get the chance to exist within the game itself.
Sony’s patent application has been given the slightly unwieldy name ‘Spectator View Into An Interactive Gaming World Showcased In A Live Event Held In A Real-World Venue’. But it basically means that you would be able to use a PlayStation VR headset to beam yourself into a preassigned seat at a competitive gaming tournament.
In addition to this, users would also get the option to toggle between being sat amongst the audience, or even enter the game being played. Augmented reality is expected to be a big part of Sony’s new plans. This is because the tech company are planning to introduce hybrid modes where specific aspects of the game will appear in the virtually rendered esports arena.
The focal point of Sony’s esports VR project is the seat in the esports stadium. This would be specially fitted with cameras and microphones that would send real-time data back to the user’s VR headset so that they could feel a part of the action. In addition to this, each seat would be fitted with proximity sensors which would automatically shut off the VR operation should there be any real-life spectator occupying the seat.
At the moment, it looks like this project is going to be focused on Sony’s PlayStation Plus League. This competitive gaming area for titles like Fortnite, Rocket League, FIFA and Rainbow Six Siege has been receiving plenty of interest amongst gamers, but it’s hoped that the new VR addition will give it much more appeal.
Ever since Sony released the PlayStation VR in late 2016, it quickly became the most popular consumer piece of virtual reality hardware. Whilst the VR headset didn’t have some of the capacities of brands such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, it has still clocked up sales of 4.2 million units as of March 2019.
However, virtual reality is still seen as something of a niche market, and the concept has yet to find mainstream acceptance. Thanks to everything from side effects like motion sickness, to the lack of decent VR gaming titles, it has been felt that virtual reality has failed to live up to the hype.
Thankfully, it seems that esports could be the phenomenon that takes virtual reality to the next level. Valve famously added a well-received spectator mode to some of the International contests which added an extra level of excitement for Dota 2 fans, whilst we have also recently seen interesting projects like Facebook’s live streaming of esports with Oculus Venues. As such, it looks like Sony’s bid to bring VR and esports together could be perfectly timed.