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Sony’s Project Morpheus VR Is a Mere Blip at E3 Press Event

You ain't seen nothing yet! Literally.

Brett Garling for Re/code

The PlayStation virtual reality headset Project Morpheus is still coming next year. But based on its E3 press conference, Sony still hasn’t quite figured out how to sell it.

The sonorous, furious event ahead of the big annual video game tradeshow featured several surprises for gamers — most notably, presumed-dead games like The Last Guardian and Shenmue 3 are, in fact, on the way. But a brief mention of the Morpheus was quickly dismissed in favor of an update on the company’s over-the-top TV service, PlayStation Vue, which launched Monday night in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

“Developers are quickly moving from the drawing board to create 360-degree experiences that truly immerse the player,” Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House said. “But we haven’t even scratched the surface.”

The only substantial Morpheus update House shared, other than a few briefly mentioned software titles: Sony wants developers to make games that let five players in the same room — one in a Morpheus headset, the other four on the couch — play in the same virtual world.

The team that developed Morpheus already knows how to get more than one of the VR headsets sharing one of those worlds. But it seems likely that Sony is emphasizing only one headset per console for now because each is expected to cost “hundreds” of dollars, according to a report Monday morning by Wired.

Instead of talking about it, Sony seemed content to just show E3 attendees what’s happening; the company is said to be devoting a sizable chunk of its expo floor real estate, which opens Tuesday, to VR.

As its 2016 release date nears, Project Morpheus will have a leg up over similarly high-end virtual reality headsets: Its audience is far more predictable. Owning the first generation of an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive will necessitate owning a high-powered PC; Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe estimated at the Code Conference last month that the “all-in” cost for the Rift and the PC to power it should come in at around $1,500.

The upshot: Sony has a potentially easier route to the home than Facebook or HTC. The hitch is that not all of the 20 million people who have bought a PlayStation 4 will necessarily want a VR headset unless they’re really sold on the software they can run on it.

“We have 30 or more games being developed that we are tracking,” Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida told Wired. “Not all of them will come out at launch, but there are serious efforts being made on all of them.”

Re/code will be hitting the E3 show floor later this week to see what’s new — and how well the latest demos work.

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