Sep 30, 2016
On October 13th, Sony will release the PlayStation VR (PSVR) virtual reality (VR) headset for the PlayStation 4 (PS4). This event will mark the first time that a major video game console company has released an official VR headset for its console system. PSVR will be the first of its kind, and its success could potentially alter the nature of the video game industry.
Video game consoles have seen revolutionary changes in the past – usually helmed by the Japanese company, Nintendo. The release of the Nintendo Wii in 2007 not only introduced the world to motion controls, but expanded the demographic of “gamer” far beyond the stereotypical adolescent male. In addition, Nintendo made portable gaming popular in 1989 with the release of the Nintendo Gameboy. Nintendo was even the first major video game company to flirt with virtual reality, releasing the ill-fated Virtual Boy in 1995. It should also be mentioned that Sony is no stranger to using console technology to push other products, as coupling a DVD player with the PlayStation 2 helped both become household items (the PlayStation 2 is currently the best-selling console of all time).
Each one of these releases had a large effect on the public, and Sony is now trying to do it again. The PSVR will be available in multiple configurations. The core headset option has an appealing price, retailing at $399 USD.
That said, the price on the core headset option is deceptively low. For starters, all potential users will need to own a PS4 to start with (now $288 USD on Amazon for the base model). In addition, it does not include the PS4 camera ($60 USD), which is essential for PSVR. Finally, this option does not include any PlayStation Move controllers, which – while not a requirement – are believed to enhance the experience.
The PSVR launch bundle, however, includes most of these things (PS4 not included) and retails for $499 USD. This bundle also includes a demo game disc, PlayStation VR Worlds. Depending on location, this disc may include as many as 18 demos (in the U.S.), and as little as eight (in the European Union).
The PS4 has been the highest selling console of its generation. As of May 2016, over 40 million units have been purchased globally. The PSVR will be launching as the most affordable VR headset to date, and pre-orders for the hardware have already been wildly successful. Amazon reported selling out within minutes and GameStop listed it as the fastest-selling preorder in company history.
It is unknown, however, if the sellout is due to demand, conservative manufacturing goals, or a mix of both. Sony has yet to comment on the total stock of PSVRs that will be available at launch.
The potential impact of PSVR is one to watch very closely. With tens of millions of PS4 owners already, this will be by far the most affordable and accessible VR headset released. Sony has already gathered wide third-party and first-party (Sony-developed) support for the hardware as well, so that those with the headset will have numerous experiences to try. Should the launch prove successful, and positive word-of-mouth spreads, this will mark the largest incursion of dedicated (non-mobile phone powered) VR into the public eye.
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