With Virtual Reality Headset, Sony Tries to Cash In On an Unreal Opportunity

Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) joined the race to cash in on virtual reality gaming when its Project Morpheus headset made an appearance at this week's Game Developers Conference. Can it become a meaningful competitor to Oculus Rift?

Host Ellen Bowman puts this question to Fool analysts Nathan Alderman and Tim Beyers in this week's episode of 1-Up On Wall Street, The Motley Fool's web show in which we talk about the big-money names behind your favorite movies, toys, video games, comics, and more.

Project Morpheus promises to add a virtual reality gaming to the PlayStation experience. Source: Sony.

Nathan says there's a burgeoning market for virtual reality gaming, and Sony's advantage may be in introducing a cohesive system that requires no add-ons. Instead, current PlayStation 4 owners can expect to take advantage of Project Morpheus out of the box when it reaches the mass market.

"The prototype for Project Morpheus is the culmination of our work over the last 3+ years as we've refined our vision for VR. This prototype will serve as the first development kit for PS4 developers that are as enthusiastic about this new medium as we are," Sony Consumer Entertainment Worldwide Studios President Shu Yoshida wrote in a blog post announcing the device.

Can investors expect anyone else to cash in? Oculus Rift has a lead, certainly, having already obtained $75 million in investment capital and huge buzz at the annual CES conference. Nintendo (NASDAQOTH: NTDOY  ) is another who could enter the space having experimented long ago with VR in the form of its doomed-from-the-start Virtual Boy game system. Nathan says that ugly chapter in Nintendo's history could keep gamers away from anything the console maker tries.

Tim says Valve is the most likely maker of an alternative to what Sony has in Project Morpheus. The newest version of the company's Steam OS has a test version virtual reality mode that could be made to work with the Oculus Rift. And that's just the beginning: Valve bills the Steambox as completely open and upgradeable, which should raise the stakes in VR for not just Sony but all console makers.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Where do you stand on the future of virtual reality gaming? Please watch the video as Ellen puts Tim and Nathan on the spot, and be sure to check back here often for more 1-Up On Wall Street segments.

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