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商业 - 科技

索尼或将成为虚拟现实行业的赢家,原因如下

John Gaudiosi 2015年04月09日

早在Oculus成立之前,索尼已在虚拟现实领域深耕多年。日前,它展示了自己的最新款虚拟现实头盔“梦神”,这一设备可在PS4游戏机上即插即用,无需设置任何驱动或下载。索尼希望以这种无缝衔接的方式,使PS游戏机的庞大用户群更加轻松地接受虚拟现实技术。

    

    以Facebook旗下Oculus VR公司为代表的虚拟现实技术公司面临的一大问题是,这种技术难以带来真正的“现场感”。当你戴上虚拟现实头盔,并不知不觉地沉浸到数字世界之中,你是无法真正看到其中的事物,或者用双手与之互动的。

    在今年的旧金山“游戏开发者大会”上,索尼电脑娱乐公司展示了自己的解决方案。该公司的最新款“梦神”(Morpheus)虚拟现实头盔可与PlayStation Move体感控制器协同工作,允许穿戴者使用自己的双手。

    早在Oculus公司创始人帕尔默•拉基组装自己的首台Rift原型机很久以前,索尼公司就开始探索虚拟现实技术了。2000年年中,索尼用自己的PlayStation Eye和PlayStation 3测试了头部位置追踪技术,随后就推出了头盔式显示器原型机,即大家熟知的HMD。索尼敢于承诺到2016年初就推出消费级虚拟现实产品,凭借的正是该公司在这一领域深耕多年的底气。

    不过,这一计划的关键在于,索尼能否促使自己的现有用户,也就是那些已拥有PlayStation游戏机的玩家,尝试虚拟现实技术。索尼并不打算让这种设备与游戏机争抢收入,而是希望通过两者结合所创造的体验,将虚拟现实技术带给用户。

    索尼电脑娱乐公司全球工作室总裁吉田修平称:“我们并不认为,虚拟现实技术一定会取代过去25年来玩家一直玩、开发商一直制作的传统游戏。虚拟现实技术只不过是开发商取悦玩家的另一种方式。有了虚拟现实技术,大家就会看到更多不同的游戏体验。”

    索尼在游戏开发者大会上所展示的两款游戏,只是这一战略的预演。其中一款名为《伦敦抢劫》,讲的是一个钻石大盗末路狂奔的故事,另一款名为《深海》,让仅有一个铁笼护体的玩家与鲨鱼贴身肉搏。它们会让玩家时站时坐,有时还要侧身躲避。索尼称,该公司已和美国宇航局及汽车厂商等机构建立了合作伙伴关系,共同探索各种虚拟现实游戏体验。

    索尼还大胆预计,即插即用的方法会促使其游戏机用户购入虚拟现实产品包。索尼电脑娱乐公司高级研发总监理查德•马克斯声称:“如果买一台‘梦神’套装,把它联上PS4游戏机,无需设置任何驱动或下载任何东西就能用。我们希望玩家能很轻松地获得这种游戏体验。鉴于所有人的PS4都一模一样,开发者就更容易打造让所有消费者都满意的游戏和体验。”

    要向全球玩家推出“梦神”,索尼还有大量工作要做。该公司正在继续完善其头戴式设备——最新款搭载了一块5.7英寸的OLED屏,并正与游戏开发商合作,希望利用这项技术创造全新体验。吉田称:“虚拟现实技术是一种全新的媒介,开发者必须学会如何围绕这种新范式来打造绝佳的体验。这需要开发者大量学习,深入沟通。”

    消费者是虚拟现实技术能否大卖的重要因素。你很难将这种技术设备套在消费者的头上,除非他们愿意亲身尝试。

    吉田表示:“要让成千上万玩家都明白虚拟现实体验是何等迷人是一大挑战。所以我们要从游戏开发者大会这样的活动入手,让玩家体验它,明白它多么激动人心,再口口相传告诉朋友们。”(财富中文网)

    译者:清远

    审校:任文科

    One problem facing the companies that make virtual-reality technology, such as Facebook-owned Oculus VR, is a lack of true “presence.” When you strap on VR goggles and drop into a digital environment, you can’t see or interact with your real-life hands.

    At this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Sony Computer Entertainment, the tech giant’s video game division, showed off its solution. The latest version of its Morpheus VR headset works in coordination with PlayStation Move controllers to allow the wearer to use his or her hands.

    Sony has been experimenting with virtual reality technology for years, long before Oculus founder Palmer Luckey put together his first Rift prototype. Sony used its PlayStation Eye and PlayStation 3 console to test head-tracking technology in the mid-2000s and later built prototype head-mounted displays, known as HMDs. One of the reasons why Sony has been able to commit to an early 2016 release date for its consumer VR product is because of its extensive research and development in the field.

    But key to the company’s VR bid is achieving adoption among its existing customers—those that own PlayStation gaming consoles. Instead of competing with that revenue stream, Sony would rather bring virtual reality technology to customers by creating an experience that marries the two.

    “We don’t believe that VR is necessarily going to replace the conventional games that people have been playing and developers have been making for over 25 years,” says Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios. “VR will give developers another way to entertain people. You’ll see even more variety of gaming experience by having the VR option.”

    Its demonstrations at GDC were a preview of that strategy. Two games—London Heist, about a diamond robbery gone bad, and The Deep, which pits you mano-a-mano against a shark with only a cage for protection—showed off experiences that prompted the VR wearer to stand up, sit down, and lean. Sony says it has worked with partners as diverse as NASA and automakers to explore different virtual-reality gameplay experiences.

    Sony is also betting that a plug-and-play approach will help spur adoption of its VR bundle among console owners. “When you buy a Morpheus kit and connect it to your PS4, it just works without needing to set up any drivers or download anything,” says Richard Marks, senior director of research and development at Sony Computer Entertainment. “We want people to have a very easy gameplay experience. Since everybody’s PS4 is exactly the same, it’s easier for developers to make sure that the games and experiences they create are great for all consumers.”

    There is still much work to be done as Sony heads toward a global consumer launch for Morpheus. The company continues to refine its VR headset—the latest version carries a 5.7-inch OLED display—and it is collaborating with game developers to invent new experiences with the technology. “VR is such a new medium that developers have to learn how to design around the new paradigm to create great experiences,” Yoshida says. “That requires a lot of learning and communication with developers.”

    And consumers. A key factor in selling virtual reality? Unless you physically try it, it’s a technology that’s hard to wrap your head around.

    “Getting millions of people to understand how amazing VR experiences are is a big challenge,” Yoshida says. “We start with events like GDC where we let people try it, get excited about it, and tell their friends.”

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