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Sony may be prepping the launch of a powered-up new virtual reality headset aimed at full integration with the PlayStation 5. But you probably won’t find the original inventor of the PlayStation console standing in line to embrace a Ready Player One-style, digital-identity future.
Gamers themselves already are pretty divided over whether the metaverse is worth jumping into headset-first, so perhaps it’s only natural that PlayStation inventor Ken Kutaragi has an opinion on the topic. Speaking recently with Bloomberg News, the 71 year-old former CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment said real experiences mean more to him than living life online through an avatar, and that he “can’t see the point” of a virtual existence.
“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,” Kutaragi explained. “You would rather be a polished avatar instead of your real self? That’s essentially no different from anonymous messageboard sites”
Kutaragi is credited with bringing Sony to the video game console arms race in the 1990s, after observing (and even helping) Nintendo develop technology for its Super NES. He would go on to oversee the creation and launch of the original PlayStation console, as well as the PS2 and PS3, before stepping down as Sony Computer Entertainment’s president in 2006.
Despite his distaste for the metaverse, it’s not as though Kutaragi is sour on cutting-edge technology in general. The longtime engineer and entrepreneur is currently CEO for Ascent Robotics Inc., an AI startup that’s reportedly working on a robotics platform that aims to “blend the real world with cyberspace in a seamless, gadget-less fashion akin to Star Wars holograms,” according to Bloomberg. But Ascent’s robot applications are meant to make life easier for real-world people in the retail and logistics fields, rather than offer a VR escape for gamers seeking a second online identity.
“Headsets would isolate you from the real world, and I can’t agree with that,” he explained. “Headsets are simply annoying.”
Companies like Sony, Apple, and Meta (aka Facebook) are betting that plenty of gamers won’t share that sentiment, as each works to integrate VR technology with an evolved, always-online form of digital recreation that lets people establish and nurture lasting identities in cyberspace. PlayStation’s next-gen headset, the PS VR2, is tentatively set to launch near the end of this year, with Sony enticing new adopters with an all-VR game set in the Horizon universe titled Horizon Call of the Mountain.