Sony recently announced that PSVR would be releasing this October with a $399 price tag compared to their major competitors Oculus and Vive which are priced at $200 and $400 higher respectively. Indeed, this brought up memories of Sony’s announcement of the PS4 which likewise came out and undercut its competition. The incredible thing and much to Sony’s credit was their coming out at a lower price than their main competitor the Xbox One and still managed to pack better hardware specs than the Xbox system. While an amalgumation of many things have been key to Sony’s success with the PS4, there’s no denying that the lower price at launch gave the PS4 a well-deserved boost and I would imagine that Sony are hoping to use a page out of this textbook and recreate the same effect with PSVR.
While release to the masses will not be until October, PSVR is already showing signs of a successful launch with retailers selling out and analysts predicting PSVR to take up a sizeable amount of VR market share. We’ve been following PSVR closely and as you can read in one of our articles here it appears that Amazon’s stock of PSVR has already depleted. Other retailers such as Target and Walmart have also experienced similar results. People have already resorted to paying higher than the RRP of PSVR on auction sites like Ebay and it’s clear that PSVR is at least experiencing strong initial demand. It’s worth noting that we haven’t got any solid pre-order numbers as Sony have not disclosed how much stock was made available to retailers this early on so this may not be indicative of huge sales, rather popular early demand.
However, while some early users have praised Sony’s VR solution, others have critcized the low-mid range offering from Sony in comparison to Oculus and Vive. Popular gaming website Gizmag recently wrote up impressions of all 3 devices which can be seen here and they weren’t all too happy with Sony’s offering. Gizmag wrote that
“As its best-by date would suggest, PS Move’s tracking accuracy is far below that of the Rift and Vive, to the point where its tech gets in the way of a high-quality experience. Trying to swing a sword in Golem was a laborious task: if you swing the Move controller too quickly, tracking goes completely to hell, and if you swing too slowly, you’re now adapting your gameplay to the technology – ideally it’s the other way around. And even when swinging slowly, they still track more like a Wiimote than the high-end Rift or Vive.”
“Sony’s headset is the cheapest, and its PS4-powered visuals are going to be mid-ranged compared to the PC-powered Rift and Vive. We can live with that alone, as that doesn’t necessitate its experience will be mid-ranged. But PlayStation Move is so bad, it actually creates something closer to a low-end experience. We’re utterly perplexed that Sony, a company that has historically made console gaming as high-end as possible, is taking this cheap shortcut.”
“We aren’t rooting against Sony’s system. If its level of overall user-friendliness was similar to that of the Rift and Vive, it could make for the perfect mass adoption VR system. Unfortunately it’s currently broken, with no signs that Sony is going to fix it before its October launch. If you’re pre-ordering PSVR, you’ve been warned.”
This echoes comments by Sony themselves where Sony Computer Entertainment vice president Masayasu Ito pointed out that
“If you just talk about the high-end quality, yes, I would admit that Oculus may have better VR,” Ito told video gaming website Polygon. “However, it requires a very expensive and very fast PC. The biggest advantage for Sony is our headset works with [PlayStation 4]. It’s more for everyday use, so it has to be easy to use and it has to be affordable. This is not for the person who uses a high-end PC. It’s for the mass market.”
It’s worth noting that Sony have clarified that their VR solution is the more ‘casual’ offering on the market out of the biggest competitors in the VR sphere and their $399 price point (closer to $499 when you consider the necessity for the PS camera and Move sticks) and in order to reach this price, Sony had to compromise on quality.
Furthermore, the strong demand that’s already proven to be there for PSVR makes me wonder if Sony could have got away with pricing their device slightly higher and providing a better quality experience for the ‘hardcore’ adopters and then come in with a budget, casual offering for a better chance of mass adoption. It’s clear that Sony’s PSVR is already showing signs of success and that is in part due to the price but will undercutting the price incur a greater cost to Sony’s PSVR this time around? It may be too early too tell but they may face the issue of PSVR falling behind their competition which could result in less developer support for PSVR.
Early on, it seems PSVR will be well supported by devs so anyone looking for the cheapest entry price into VR should look no further than Sony’s offering. The quality deficit is also going to be noticeable between PSVR and the Oculus & Vive but Sony are targeting a different market than these two. Sony are targeting console gamers who are used to not getting the cutting-edge experience with games so perhaps this won’t be too much of a problem for Sony and demand for their headset definitely seems strong thus far so only time will tell how things will end up.
It’s also worth mentioning that Adam Boyes, a developer relations executive at PlayStation, was asked by Game Informer about the PSVR price in comparison to other virtual reality devices such as HTC Vive ($800) and Oculus Rift ($600).”Every device we’ve sold since PlayStation 4 has been in the black,” Boyes claimed. This is the opposite of Oculus who have claimed that they’re selling their headset at a loss on the hardware side, presumably hoping to make that up in software/accessory sales.
In closing, Sony’s VR offering does a great job at undercutting the competition but it may come at a cost to Sony. How do you feel about this issue? Let us know your thoughts and opinions below.