It turns out that more than just being a powerful console virtual reality solution, the PlayStation VR might be the most versatile VR headset available. It’s capable of playing a number of solid PlayStation 4 titles in virtual reality, but it can also function in cinema mode with any generic HDMI connection, meaning it works with the Xbox One, Wii U, and Windows-based PCs.
Cinematic mode is something that the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have offered for a while now, which essentially lets you play non-VR games on a large 2D display within a virtual cinema. It’s a neat extra feature that means you can play all sorts of games with your headset on, even if they aren’t designed with VR in mind.
The PSVR headset offers the same thing for 2D PS4 games, but it goes a step further by making it possible for any content transferred over its HDMI connection to be displayed in that cinema setting. Initially discovered by a Japanese gaming blog (via Reddit, thanks Ars Technica) and has since been verified by a number of sources, people have managed to get everything from their PC, to an Xbox to a Wii U working on the PSVR headset.
Of course, the experience is rather limited compared to officially supported games and official 2D gaming with PS4 titles. With a generic HDMI source feed, you don’t have any PS4 camera support, so there is no positional tracking. There’s also no motion controller interaction possible.
Also of note is that most games will lack sound, so you must get that straight from the rendering device, be that PC, console, or phone, via a different outlet.
While some of that may be worked out with custom drivers on the PC in due course — we’re sure someone is already trying to make that a reality — what this potentially does is make the PSVR an excellent portable HD screen. If you could load up some games and movies on your phone and plug it into your PSVR headset, that’s a very immersive, relaxing environment to spend long flights or train journeys.
If anything, though, this just adds more value to a product that is already one of the most competitive on price of all VR headsets. That’s good news for Sony.