PlayStation Creator Ken Kutaragi Thinks VR/AR Headsets Are ‘Simply Annoying’

It sounds like PlayStation creator Ken Kutaragi isn’t very fond of immersive headsets.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Kutaragi branded such devices — which presumably includes those made by his former employer — as “simply annoying.”

“Headsets would isolate you from the real world, and I can’t agree with that,” he said. “Headsets are simply annoying.”

Kutaragi’s comments have been echoed by others in the past, though his standing within the industry certainly gives his words some weight. He spearheaded Sony’s leap into gaming in the early 90’s with the creation of the original PlayStation, eventually going on to become CEO of that division of the business, then known as Sony Computer Entertainment. He departed Sony in 2007, however, shortly before the company would first begin experimenting with the technology that would lead to the eventual release of PSVR in late 2016. He now heads up Japanese Robotics firm, Ascent Robotics.

Kutaragi was also skeptical of the concept of the metaverse, saying: “Being in the real world is very important, but the metaverse is about making quasi-real in the virtual world, and I can’t see the point of doing it. You would rather be a polished avatar instead of your real self? That’s essentially no different from anonymous messageboard sites.”

Clearly, the current PlayStation division, now called Sony Interactive Entertainment, doesn’t share its founder’s concerns – a second PSVR headset is officially on the way. It will connect to the PS5 console via a wire, and we’re hoping for a possible release later this year.

Do you agree with Kutaragi’s comments? Let us know in the comments below!

Meta to Enter the NFT Marketplace Arena

At first OpenSea, Rarible and other marketplaces have been running the non-fungible tokens (NFTs) trading arena, with almost no one able to touch their monthly volume. Today, a new report by The Financial Times (paywalled) suggests that Meta is working on plans to allow users to create and sell NFTs.

Cryptopunks - NFTs
Editorial credit: mundissima / Shutterstock.com

This news might not shock many: a couple of months ago, Mark Zuckerberg changed Facebook’s name to Meta, then he said that: “NFTs could one day be wielded to support a market for digital goods in its planned metaverse.” The CEO’s intention is pretty clear, as he said the company plans on: “investing 10 billion USD annually in building its metaverse effort over the coming decade”

In 2021, the NFT market reached over $40B USD amid growing interest for PFP collections such as Bored Ape Yacht Club, CryptoPunks, Hashmasks, Cool Cats among others. Also, famous entrepreneurs have been buying NFTs and talking heavily on their social media about their investments: one example is Gary Vaynerchuck creating the NFT collection VeeFriends which quickly sold $170+ million.

We cannot discount the impact that many popular musicians have had on the NFT sales volume. Snoop Dogg created a partnership with the popular metaverse game The Sandbox, launching an NFT collection that will allow owners to participate in private activities on its virtual LANDs, while Steve Aoki has been showing its Doodle NFT collections while playing during his concerts.

The Sandbox
Image credit: The Sandbox

Also, sports athletes have been flexing NFTs on their social media: an example is legendary basket player Shaquille O’Neal flexing a Creature’s NFT on his Twitter profile.

It doesn’t come as a surprise Zuckerberg is interested in the creation of an NFT Marketplace; Meta and its apps – Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram – have over 3.6 billion active monthly users. Imagining the opportunity to turn many of the content that is created daily on these platforms into NFTs is something that could increase the total sale volume of the NFT space by a long shot.

How are the other NFT Marketplace reacting to today’s news? Currently, OpenSea is the current market leader – they recently announced the acquisition of Dharma, with their founder Nadav Hollander becoming the new CTO – and they hope to decentralize their platform to appeal to their user base.

LooksRare is a newcomer to the arena, however as data from Dune Analytics shows, the trend is clear and many users are choosing to use LooksRare instead of OpenSea, as currently there are more advantages in terms of taking advantage of the $LOOKS token fees.

If Meta wants to be successful with its new NFT Marketplace it’ll need to create a true Web3 concept, following the example of what LooksRare is doing: building a decentralized protocol where the community is the centrepiece for success, not only something to use to make money. Is Zuckerberg ready to embrace a more decentralized business model? Only time will tell.

For continued updates on this story keep reading gmw3.

Using AR and VR to Embrace the Metaverse

In early August 2021, a playlist was added to Fortnite among the usual solo, duo, trio and squad options. ‘The Rift Tour’ would be an “interactive musical journey” featuring pop princess Ariana Grande. Before the concert, players could shop the online store and buy a skin of Ariana, which would transform their avatar into the singer. There were also accessories and emotes – animated movements – to support the concert. A popular emote made the player avatar wave a cell phone flashlight in the air.

The concert was a huge success and saw millions of players flood the servers to take part. The performance – all pre-recorded – featured a giant Ariana, endless Escher staircases, users bouncing on pink, fluffy trees and riding inflatable Llamacorns through the sky.

As we near the all-encompassing ‘metaverse’, music acts embracing technology and connecting with their fans through these events will be a surefire play to get users into web 3.0. By expanding beyond the confines of a contained show and utilising available technology, fans can get closer than ever to their idols.

Preceding the Ariana concert, Fortnite had already teamed with Travis Scott and plenty of DJs who took to the virtual stage. It’s clear that Epic Games are determined to continue in this vein given their purchase of Harmonix, a company known for creating music based videogames such as Fuser and Rock Band. Virtual concerts are clearly successful because consumers are given a new way to interact with their favourite music acts. It’s worth keeping in mind that many players may attend these gigs even if they aren’t a fan of the musical star, purely for the spectacle.

This is an easily monetised side hustle. Selling skins, items and accessories in the lead up to a concert or experience not only benefits the developers and publishers of the game but the artist too. Given the changes in the world since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, virtual attendance is appealing, more so when you consider the interactivity virtual concerts offer compared to their ‘real world’ counterparts. Artists can sell tickets and merchandise recouping revenue lost during the pandemic.

Over on the Roblox platform, acts such as Lil Nas X and Twenty One Pilots have hosted concert experiences. Users can convert their cash into Robux and buy T-shirts and hats, showing them off within games.

More recently, Wave put on a virtual concert for Justin Bieber and the strategic shooter game Scavengers hosted K-Pop idol AleXa. It’s these latter examples that point to a possible future within the metaverse as they experiment with crowd participation and real-time performances, they also differentiate themselves from Fortnite and Roblox, by creating more fan participation.

While it looked like Justin Bieber had been fully prerecorded, AleXa interacted with the crowd in real-time, much as they would at a traditional concert. Each of these concerts asked the attendees to mash buttons to hype up the artists or throw up glow sticks to create that gig atmosphere.

With improvements in VR and AR, it makes sense that the next step in entertainment will embrace these technologies. In fact, VR is already a usable tool for concertgoers, albeit with some restrictions. MelodyVRsoon to be rebranded as Napster – an app for Oculus devices, allows viewers to purchase tickets to a show and watch it using the VR headset. MelodyVR feels a bit like those early DVD extras, which allowed you to watch a scene from different angles. Once the concert is loaded, you can choose from many positions to watch from, including mosh pits and the wings of the stage. Some angles truly make the user a part of the show by positioning them on the stage, with the performer moving around them.

Horizon Venues is another portal for entertainment, both live and prerecorded, except here your avatar is relegated to a seating area while the performance takes place on a screen. This emulates a cinema, rather than an arena, but the visual fidelity is much better. Using this tool to sit with a friend and watch the latest Marvel film or stand-up comedian would be one step closer to the metaverse often depicted.

Attempting to stand out within the metaverse, is Sensorium Galaxy. Sensorium empowers the concertgoer with a digital avatar who can be fully customised, before attending the gig. Sensorium has already announced a bucketload of virtual concerts with some of the biggest DJs in the world – Carl Cox, David Guetta, Steve Aoki, Charlotte de Witte and many more. These powerhouses in dance music are scanned and captured in motion capture creating a “photo-realistic’ avatar to perform and interact with fans. Sensorium can be used via VR for a “fully immersive experience” which will be unlike anything found in existing experience platforms.

As time passes, video quality will get better, the sound will improve and the metaverse will envelop these experiences, pulling them into the decentralised network. Going to a gig will come in two forms – visiting the arena and using your smartphone to access AR features, or watching from home via VR. It makes a great deal of sense from the artists perspective, especially given the cut to revenue during the pandemic.

We’re still quite a way from Ready Player One, but if Roblox is anything to go by, younger audiences are already preparing themselves for the metaverse revolution. With a concert on the Roblox platform, players can gather together, chat and dance, sometimes interacting with the artist via prompts. What removes this from a true metaverse experience is the lack of seamless movement. You don’t start at your house, on your own land and walk to the venue. You don’t look into the distance and see the rest of the city sprawling before you, ripe for exploration. This will be a future step.

The metaverse needs to bring all of this together, grouping the disparate ventures and creating an experience that benefits the user both digitally and physically. If you were to walk from your house to the arena, meet friends along the way and use VOIP chat to converse, that’s one step. If, when you arrive, you can buy an NFT poster for your digital bedroom, plus a T-shirt for your avatar – all from a digital avatar vendor – it would help if the physical versions of these were then dispatched to your home.

Combining current and emerging technology will bring a rounded experience to everything from games to concerts; work meetings to dating. However, a few things need to change first – VR headsets must become more affordable, or be pushed via government programs. Seamless experiences will only develop if corporations begin working together to decentralise the digital space. Early adoption must try to offer metaverse existence through AR or VR as the cherry on the cake, where our current lives are the cake beneath. The first rung on the ladder is getting everyone together in sections of the metaverse, using the technology available to us. The next step will be folding them all together.

Hitman 3 PC VR System Requirements Revealed, No Reverb G2 Support

Hitman 3’s PC VR support launches today, but it looks like you won’t be able to play it with an HP Reverb G2.

Developer IO Interactive has revealed the supported headsets and system requirements for the game, which is due to get an update adding in the VR support in a few hours from now (along with launching on Steam and Game Pass). The page confirms that the game supports the Valve Index, Meta Quest 2, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive Pro and Cosmos devices. But it also specifically states that the G2 is not supported, and doesn’t make any mention of support for other Windows MR devices.

We’ve reached out to IO to ask if Reverb G2 support could be added to the game later down the line. Reverb G2 is an impressive headset with very high resolution displays, so it’d be a shame not to be able to experience the game this way.

The page also confirms that the game supports the Valve Index controllers, Oculus Touch controllers and Vive Cosmos controllers. The original Vive wands, meanwhile, will work with the game to some degree, but haven’t been specifically optimized for the game.

Hitman 3 PC VR System Requirements Revealed

Finally, we have minimum specs. IO says you’ll need:

CPU: Intel 6-core i7-8700 / AMD Ryzen 7 2700
GPU: NVIDIA RTX 2060 Super / AMD 5700XT

This base requirement will apparently allow you to run the game at a consistent 90FPS on lower-end headsets with graphics sets on low. Anything more than that and you’ll probably want to invest in some better gear.

We’ll be bringing you impressions of Hitman 3 on PC VR as soon as we can, so stay tuned.

VR Narrative Game The Last Worker Reveals New Trailer

A new trailer for VR narrative game The Last Worker debuted, giving us a closer look at some of the characters, story and gameplay.

The Last Worker, developed by Oiffy and Wolf & Wood, is set for release on Quest, SteamVR and flatscreen devices later this year. It’s a dystopian narrative VR game where you play as Kurt, a factory worker joined by his robotic companion stew, voiced by Jason Isaacs.

We got our first teaser last year, but it didn’t reveal a whole lot. This new trailer introduces us to the ‘Jüngle Fulfillment Centre’ and gives a closer look at some more gameplay.

We went hands-on with a 10-minute demo of The Last Worker back in September. Visually, it stunned us, but we were left with a few questions around what the actual gameplay will entail a bit further into the experience.

Here’s an excerpt from our hands-on:

The game has an assured confidence to its storytelling and a high level of production that feels rare in VR right now. For starters, it straight up looks better than most games I’ve played on Oculus Quest … even if that’s down to its handpainted art direction. It allows the teams to get far more out of the visuals than we’re used to seeing on Quest, from the exaggerated wrinkles lining Kurt’s forehead to the tiny details decorating his craft and making it feel like a real, lived-in vehicle.

Thankfully, this new trailer released today does give us a bit of a closer look at what to expect from the gameplay. You can see Kurt using a gravity gun-like device to pick up items and move them around, it looks like some environmental puzzles are on the cards.

The Last Worker releases this year for Quest, SteamVR and flatscreen devices. It is available to wishlist on Steam now.

Take a First Look at the Dystopian World of The Last Worker

A joint project between Wired Productions, Writer/Director Jörg Tittel’s production company Oiffy and Wolf & Wood (The Exorcist: Legion VR, Hotel R’n’R), The Last Worker first appeared during the Venice Film Festival last year. Today, the developers have released a brand new trailer giving you a better look inside the fictional e-commence giant that is Jüngle.

The Last Worker

Very much a critique of corporations like Amazon, The Last Worker is set inside the Jüngle Fulfillment Centre (JFC-1), a huge sprawling complex the size of Manhatten that’s completely automated; apart from one man. Of course, all this automation has been at the expense of people’s jobs – and possibly their lives.

The new trailer is delivered like a customer tour, with CEO Josef Jüngle claiming he has nothing to hide and so much to offer as you peek inside the 650 million square foot JFC-1. Rows of boxes as far as the eye can see disappear into the distance and in the middle of it all is you, the last human being to wander these seemingly endless halls of products.

The Last Worker features quite the selection of talent. From Wolf & Wood’s expertise to the hand-crafted art style of comics legend Mick McMahon as well as the voice talents of Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Jason Isaacs, Clare-Hope Ashitey and David Hewlett. This is a narrative adventure coming to multiple platforms focused on “humanity’s struggle in an increasingly automated world.”

The Last Worker

The Last Worker is a true labour of love and I’m lucky to be working with the best creative talent money can’t buy,” said Writer, Director and Producer Jörg Tittel in a statement. “With people like these, one can’t help but deliver the goods, but should we fail, I hope Mr. Jüngle can give me a job?”

As The Last Worker, you’ll have to solve puzzles, defend yourself against rogue robots and a whole lot more if you wish to make it out of JFC-1 in one piece.

“We have all become attached to the characters in The Last Worker. Seeing them transition from Mick McMahon’s sketches and then brought to life by such amazing actors has been a fantastic process to be a part of.” Said Ryan Bousfield, Creative Director of Wolf & Wood. “I’m extremely proud of the innovative approach taken by our team to create a rich and exciting world that is as immersive on screen as it is in VR. We’re looking forward to showing you the first elements of gameplay.”

The Last Worker is scheduled to arrive at some point this year, supporting Meta Quest 2, SteamVR, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S. For further updates on the project, keep reading gmw3.

Meta Quest’s v37 Update Hands Some Magic to Owners

The rollout of Meta Quest’s latest software update has now begun packing even more versatility into the standalone headset. Among some of the new and enhanced features, v37 adds a new hand-tracking gesture, makes organising your VR UI easier and sees the inclusion of Apple Magic keyboard support.

Meta Quest Apple Magic

If you love Quest’s hand tracking feature but wish it could do more, well now it can. v37 introduces a new gesture that will allow you to open up a Quick Action Menu by pinching your thumb and index finger. The shortcut gives you access to functions like taking screenshots or activating voice commands.

And for those who want to do more in VR such as typing away in a virtual meeting you now have the ability to pair an Apple Magic Keyboard with the headset. Just like the addition of Logitech’s K830 keyboard in the v28 update, the Apple keyboard can be viewed inside VR as a 3D representation. You’ll find the option to activate this feature in Settings under the Experimental Features section. Additionally, Meta is releasing its Tracked Keyboard SDK for developers next week so they can add both keyboards to their apps.

Sharing functionality continues to grow on Quest with a new link sharing feature. Using an Android device – iOS isn’t supported at the moment – you can share a link to the headset via the Oculus Mobile App. So long as the headset is on and Bluetooth activated, simply open up a website on your phone click Share, choose the Oculus App → Open Now, then select your headset. The link will open in the Browser automatically when you use your Quest.

Meta Quest hand tracking

The last couple of tidbits offer the ability to organise the 2D panels in the Home area whilst the Explore page has been overhauled to make it easier to browser new videogame recommendations, see what your friends are doing or explore the new Fitness and Productivity sections.

As always, the update is a gradual rollout so you may have to wait a few days before it appears. This continues Meta efforts to improve the Quest platform on a monthly basis, so when v38 appears gmw3 will let you know.