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Sony's Yoshida on Project Morpheus: 'Price has not been driving our development process'

Sony announced that Project Morpheus, the PlayStation 4's virtual reality headset, is coming in the first half of 2016, The latest prototype features a wide variety of improvements to the hardware, but those updates and upgrades couldn't have been cheap to add.

I had a chance to sit down with Shuhei Yoshida, President of Sony's Worldwide Studios for Sony Computer Entertainment, to ask about price.

"Price has not been driving our development process," he said.

"The first time people try VR is the most dangerous time. People get used to it after a while, but the first is the most susceptible to motion sickness. So we want to get the hardware right." It was important to get a better panel than the first prototype, and to reduce latency, and now that these have been improved they can start working on plans for production.

"Now we feel that we have the system, we have passed the threshold that we set out. Then, how cheap we can deliver to the consumer? That's the second question we're going to tackle," he continued. "The number of people who will buy day one hardware will be some kind of reverse function of price, that we understand, but we really need to do it right from day one."

He also pointed out that, just like the PlayStation 4, price will fall with time. Yoshida was unwilling to hint at a price point, but a focus on the quality of the experience before thinking about cost may lead to a better headset that's more comfortable for players.

Project Morpheus GDC 2015 prototype image 1023

The question is how much they'll be willing to play, and how Sony can sell them on technology that's hard to describe via a commercial or even stories like ours. Sony is aware of this problem, and the importance of making sure players get a chance to try the hardware.

"That's the number one challenge, people ask us what's the number one challenge for Project Morpheus? I say get people to try it. Unless you try it, you don't understand how good or how great it is. The second best thing is to watch people playing it."

He describes a moment where a journalist in the other room screamed while playing a particularly intense demo. That sort of reaction, which you can see when many people try Project Morpheus in one place, helps to draw interest.

"When you see those reactions, you think something is happening there and I want to try it. So getting as many people as possible to try it, and they will talk about it to their friends, I think that's a way to go."