How Sony Launches the most Successful VR Headset of 2016

With the launch of Oculus Rift looming a mere month and half away at a whopping $599 USD, and a likely more expensive HTC Vive soon to follow, we have yet to hear from Sony regarding the price of the Playstation VR. With a current install base of 35 million units, Sony has been dominating console sales with the PlayStation 4 outselling its direct competitor the Xbox One nearly 2/1. With an install base of that magnitude, if Sony could find a way to undercut the price of the Oculus Rift by at least $50 USD and provide content on par with the competing headset, Playstation VR would lead the charge in virtual reality sales in 2016.

Expected to launch sometime around summer, Playstation VR is positioned to make the biggest early impact in virtual reality sales if the rumors of the headsets price and developer support is true. Price speculation for the device began as early as late 2015 when Bloomberg reported an article in which Sony Computer Entertainment Chief Executive Officer Andrew House stated that Sony VR, code-named Project Morpheus at the time, would be priced as a new gaming platform. Judging from the prices of Sony’s previous two gaming platforms the Playstation 3 and 4, people have since been speculating that the cost for Playstation VR will range from $300 – $500 USD.

On January 7th of this year, Forbes reported on a price listing for the Playstation VR at around $800 on Amazon Canada’s market place. But Sony has since dubbed the price from Amazon as an errorNot more than two weeks later and we got yet another leaked price for the headset from a Swiss online retailer this time at price ranging from $450 – $550 USD. So far Sony has yet to comment on this leak.

While one leak clearly doesn’t line up with Andrew House’s statement towards the headsets being priced comparable to one of Sony’s previous gaming platforms, I’m much more inclined to believe that the cost of Playstation VR would be around $450-550 USD due to the slightly underpowered specs of the headset when compared to the Oculus Rift. But just that slight advantage in cost compared to the Oculus Rift would mean a whole world of difference in sales if Sony has the content to back up the peripheral.

Speaking with the BBC at CES 2016, Sony CEO Kaz Hirai confirmed that over 200 different developers are currently working with the PlayStation VR headset on roughly 100 different titles. But as of now, Sony has only announced a few exclusives titles for Playstation VR, and the majority of titles at launch are releasing on the PC with Oculus Rift support as well. With specs at least comparable to Oculus’ headset, if not a little under-powered, Sony is still looking for a killer app that will help move more Playstation VR units.

After No Man’s Sky sudden delay followed by yet another successful E3 appearance in 2015, analysts such as Design & Trend’s Christopher Groux began to question the reasoning behind the recent delay especially after lead programmer Sean Murray was stated saying that the game was “nearly hear.”  With a now, confirmed and coincidental June arrival, No Man’s Sky seems to be on track to release right around the same time as Playstation VR. To make matter more interesting, recent comments from both Murray and Sony’s Jim Ryan alluded to the possibility of Playstation VR support in No Man’s Sky.

If Sony were to undercut the Oculus Rift’s price with the Playstation VR and couple the headset with a killer app such as No Man’s Sky, the Playstation 4 would be poised in position to be the leading virtual reality platform of 2016. But that’s a lot of if’s and Oculus is likely to have a launch head start of around two months. With the cat still in the bag, the race to be the most successful VR platform is still very much anyone’s game.

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