With a comparatively low price and some innovative software, Sony’s VR ambitions are serious
When the announcement of a peripheral that, at £349, costs significantly more than the hardware on which it runs and yet could be considered to be something of a bargain, you know we’re living in unusual times. But then PlayStation VR’s rivals cost hundreds of pounds more than Sony’s hardware, and that’s before you even factor in the cost of the high-end PCs that are required to make them work properly. In that context, PSVR’s pricepoint, announced at a press event held in San Francisco alongside the Game Developers Conference, feels almost miraculous – especially when you consider that Sony claims it will make money on each unit sold.
Andrew House, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, who strode onto a small stage in front of a packed room to reveal that the PSVR will launch globally in October, seems only too aware of the coup the company has pulled. “The pricepoint has been far from an easy task,” he says, smiling. Nevertheless, as the most affordable serious VR option, Sony’s hardware may have the best chance, at least in the short term, of luring consumers to invest in the nascent medium. It’s a tough job. While a battalion of developers and investors appear fully on board with VR’s potential (exhibit A: the unprecedentedly long, serpentine queues lining up for the Game Developers Conference’s VR-themed talks), many traditional videogame fans seem less convinced of its relevance to their interests.
“Excitement for delivering VR reminds me of the anticipation when building the original PlayStation,” House says, undeterred. “It’s a natural evolution of the experiences we strive to deliver at PlayStation.” Sony certainly has firepower. The company says that more than 230 studios are working on games for the device, with commitment from publishers such as EA, which has revealed that it will release a dedicated PlayStation VR version of Star Wars Battlefront. As yet, however, there are no details on how many titles will launch with the headset, which will be available in various bundles,