Playstation VR may seem to be in a tough spot right now.

Releasing months after the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, PS VR is also being reported as the least technically impressive when compared to its competitors. However, to judge PS VR’s success on these facts alone is overlooking one crucial detail: Playstation isn’t attempting to compete against other headsets. Whereas Oculus and Vive are priced at $600 and $800 respectively with both requiring a high-end computer to run the VR headsets, PS VR is the lowest priced headset releasing at $400 and to an install base of over 40 million Playstation 4 owners. Sony isn’t concerned about Oculus/Vive eating into their sales, they’re concerned about marketing PS VR to Playstation 4 owners.

But just how do you market VR? Most games or consoles are able to express the experience of playing through a trailer, but virtual reality is an entirely different beast. Sony released a trailer for PS VR when it was announced last year featuring gamers wearing the headset and reacting to playing it, but it was a far cry from what actually experiencing VR was really like. Currently, if you type “What does PS VR” into google, it will auto-fill with “What does PS VR do?” How do you accurately explain what VR is like to the average consumer?

Instead of fighting that uphill battle, Sony decided to try a different plan of attack: Letting PS VR speak for itself. The “Road to Greatness” tour was announced by Playstation, which would see PS VR demos pop up in major cities all across the world allowing the public to try out the headset themselves. It was clear that Sony was making a conscious effort to get people talking about PS VR, as Ireland (a place typically devoid of anything exciting gaming-wise) was graced with several days in which anybody could try out PS VR in a city nearby. I was lucky enough to be invited to the opening day of the PS VR demos and I left the event with some interesting food for thought.

The PS VR demo I went to took place in 1 Dame Lane, a little alley off of Dame Street in Dublin. A large picture of a man wearing a PS VR headset with the tagline “The Future of Play” covered the front entrance windows. Walking inside the front door I noticed everything was covered in a dim blue lighting to match the LEDS on the PS VR headset. I was shown to one of the ten different demo stations and I got to examine the headset while the assistant tried and failed to get the motion controllers working before handing me a controller. I had several demos to pick from including Playstation VR Worlds or Batman VR but ended up choosing Until Dawn: Rush of Blood since Halloween is around the corner. I donned the headset and headphones, and I appeared on a rollercoaster that began to take me through a haunted mansion. I began looking around immediately, almost as if my brain was acting in self defense trying to find a way to prove that I wasn’t really there, but even if I looked up, down or behind me I was still in the rollercoaster heading through this mansion. I began to take in the eerie scenery around me such as the naked life-sized dolls or the mechanical whirring of some buzz-saws. The assistant lifted up one side of my headphones. “Uh, you’re supposed to be shooting the targets.” Whoops. I began shooting at targets and evil creatures with my controller, but I was still more impressed by the trippy imagery and environments than I was the gameplay. After finishing my demo I had a look at some other demos being played and noticed a similar trend. Being able to explore and interact with environments seemed to garner a bigger response from people than shooting guns and pulling off headshots. I witnessed one women cackle with laughter when she realized she could pick up a virtual soda and drink it.

This could drastically change game design for VR and affect what games work best on VR. Explorative story-driven games like Gone Home or Everybody Has Gone To The Rapture which are shunned on consoles by some for lack of gameplay could be given new life on a platform like VR. One reason why explorative games might be thriving on VR currently is that the majority of PS VR games take place in a fixed location. You’re unable to move the person you’re controlling and have to look around in order to advance. Even the demo I played of Until Dawn is technically a fixed point, as the character you control is inside of a rollarcoaster you don’t control. Farpoint and Robinson: The Journey are both PS VR games that are releasing in the near future which feature full control of movement over your character, but at the moment one of the only PS VR games that features movement control is Scavengers Odyssey which has the highest rate of people feeling sick due to motion sickness. Its evident that developers are aware of this motion sickness effect, like in Batman VR when you grapple to a building and are teleported there instead of being pulled towards the building. Until people become more adjusted to VR or some workaround is discovered, it seems like the majority of PS VR games for the time being while be shorter more casual experiences instead of triple-A blockbuster games that some might have been expecting after seeing the $400 price-tag. Resident Evil 7, arguably the biggest game coming to PS VR is due out next year and could still yet prove that VR has a place in hardcore gaming.

As of writing, PS VR Worlds is currently in the top ten of both the UK and Japanese charts. Could this be another fad, or is this really indeed “The Future of Play”? We’ll have to wait and see.