Sony announced the price and release date of the PlayStation VR virtual reality headset on Tuesday at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. The company is giving its new device a leg up on competitors Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, thanks to a relatively consumer friendly price. Did Sony slip by not including needed accessories with the base bundle, though?
The PlayStation VR will launch this October with a $399.99 price point. It’s important to note the starting bundle does not include the required PlayStation camera nor the optional PS Move controllers needed to operate the virtual reality headset.
IHS Technology analyst and Head of Games, Piers Harding-Rolls, expects the PlayStation VR to gain the lion’s share of the virtual reality market for more than a couple of reasons. Pricing is the most obvious factor with Harding-Rolls pointing out, “when you take into account the total cost of ownership of using a PS4 as a source device, Sony’s experience is around half the price of its PC-based competition.”
Oculus Rift pre-orders launched at a cost of $600, while the HTC Vive is even more expensive at $800. As IHS mentions, this cost is increased when the cost of a PC is factored in. Both will require powerful machines that cost around $1,000 or more off the shelf.
The high-end PC requirement for the two competing virtual reality headsets gives the PlayStation VR another competitive advantage.
“With a forecast installed base of 53m PS4s by the end of 2016, Sony has a much bigger addressable market of ‘ready-to-go’ consumers to address than PC-based solutions,” Harding-Rolls wrote. “In contrast, IHS forecasts that 17m consumers will addressable by Oculus Rift and HTC Vive by the end of 2016.”
In short, the PlayStation VR has a consumer base three times the size of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. It also has that base all to itself while the other two compete in the same smaller pool.
Another key advantage for the PlayStation VR will be Sony’s ability to control the experience from beginning to end.
“Sony has confirmed that over 230 developers are working on the PlayStation VR platform. Sony’s existing in-house expertise and third-party relationships means it is well positioned to build a strong body of content for launch of the platform,” Harding-Rolls explained.
“Sony’s walled garden approach to the PS4 platform means it is well placed to provide a better controlled and consistent VR experience to consumers. This will be important in driving adoption and positive word of mouth for PlayStation VR. “
This adds up to an estimated 1.6 million PlayStation VR units sold by the end of 2016. That’s a good number for the headset and expected to be 64 percent of the installed base market share for the entire year.
If there is one disappointing aspect of the PlayStation VR bundle, it is the lack of needed accessories. The required PlayStation camera and optional PS Move controllers are both integral parts of the experience. Unfortunately, Sony made the decision to make these additional purchases to keep the initial cost of the bundle below $400.
The PlayStation 4 Camera has a $59.99 retail price, while the PlayStation Move controller comes with a $39.99 retail price. That’s another $139.97 bringing the total cost to get started with the PlayStation VR to $549.96 for the full experience or $459.98 for the just the headset and camera.
Fortunately, the PS4 camera and Move controllers can be had at cheaper prices, but there’s also the chance the PlayStation VR announcement could drive the demand and price for them back up. Harding-Rolls does not believe the added cost and potential confusion will affect the adoption rate of the PlayStation VR, however.
“There is some potential for confusion but many early adopters will either have the PS camera or Move controllers so this gives people a choice,” he said in an emailed response. “I don’t think it will impact adoption.”
Update: Sony will offer a separate bundle with the PlayStation 4 camera and PS Move controllers included, according to an interview by Tech Insider with Shuhei Yoshida at GDC. A price for the additional bundle was not announced, but PlayStation’s worldwide head of studios offered a reason for why the required camera is not included in the base bundle.
“We didn’t put it in because many people already own it,” Yoshida said? He wouldn’t divulge any numbers or percentages of the actual number, but did say it is “A large enough number of people.”
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[Image via Sony]