Sony has announced that its PlayStation VR headset will go on sale on 13 October, while Microsoft has revealed a more powerful version of the Xbox One that will allow the console to support virtual reality (VR) gaming.
The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is the gaming industry’s largest trade fair where big announcements about new software and hardware are commonly made.
Sony finally announced the release date of its headset during the event which was first mentioned in early 2014 when engineer Anton Mikhailov said his team had been working on what was then known as Project Morpheus for more than three years.
The device has advantages over other virtual reality systems, such as the Oculus Rift which was released in late March, as it does not require a high-powered gaming PC to function, instead plugging directly into the PlayStation 4 console.
Sony also confirmed that more than 50 games will be available for PlayStation VR between launch and the end of the year, while titles based on the Star Trek, Batman and Resident Evil universes were also revealed during the press conference.
The launch will see Sony enter the increasingly crowded VR market with HTC's Vive and Samsung’s Gear VR also being launched in the last few months along with the aforementioned Oculus Rift.
However, it is thought the PlayStation system may prove most popular with consumers because of the ease at which it integrates with current PS4 consoles.
It will cost £349 in the UK not including the PlayStation Camera which will be a requirement for VR games.
Also at E3, Microsoft announced two new iterations of its Xbox One console. First came the Xbox One S, a version of the console that is 40 per cent smaller than its predecessor.
The Xbox One S also incorporates the power brick directly into the console itself and will have more powerful hardware than the original device although Microsoft has not detailed the spec upgrade yet.
Part of the reason for this is to enable 4K resolution for video output through streaming platforms and blu-ray as the current machine is capped at 1080p. The Xbox One S will go on sale in the UK in August starting at £250.
Microsoft also revealed Project Scorpio, an improved version of the Xbox One with significantly upgraded internals.
Although it has not yet gone into detail about the exact specs that consumers will see once it launches next year, it did say that it will feature an eight-core CPU with 320 gigabits per second of memory bandwidth, and have 6 teraflops of graphical performance.
In comparison to the current Xbox One, which has less than 1.5 teraflops, this represents a four-fold increase.
Microsoft specifically cited Project Scorpio’s VR capabilities but noted that unlike Sony, which is releasing its own VR hardware, the new console may be compatible with numerous VR systems made by third parties.
Although details about exactly how this will work are sparse, Microsoft already has some level of partnership with Oculus Rift which included an Xbox One controller in the box.