Sony took a fairly brave jump when they joined the Virtual Reality bandwagon. The PSVR, which is a fairly solid headset even compared to the PC only counterparts, is still a very expensive peripheral. Those reading with good memories would remember other times that companies jumped on a new craze. 3D TV, motion gaming, various attempts at DRM. All of these are now nothing but bad memories.
Considering the relatively lacklustre performance of major VR headsets, you could be forgiven for thinking the same. However, recent news has given the medium a stay of execution. PSVR headsets have performed really well. In fact, they have done better than even Sony could have predicted. Does this mean that there is still a chance for VR gaming?
PSVR sales performance
The first publication to reveal just how well it performed was the New York Times. First was a comment by Andrew House, Global Chief Executive of Sony Interactive Entertainment. He is quoted as saying, “the guys who are on the front end in sales are getting very excited, very hyped up. You have to temper that with other voices inside the company, myself among them, saying let’s just be a little bit careful.” This is a very mature and reasoned manner in which to discuss your company’s product. However, casual reading could see this as Sony not truly believing that the PSVR would sell well.
House then revealed to the New York Times that as of 19 February, 916,000 headsets had been sold. That is double what the HTC Vive has managed, and almost triple what Oculus has managed. Even better for Sony, the headset was launched globally in October, meaning this was achieved in just under five months of the product being on the market. So far, the headset is on track to beat Sony’s estimate of a million sold in six months. Dr Richard Marks, a research fellow for Sony and also quoted in the New York Times, put it very succinctly, saying, “We were expecting it to be a lot smaller than it has turned out to be.”
Responses to the news
Anyone who has any Sony stock would obviously be very happy with this news. However, other voices in media have also reacted positively. Destructoid, who also reported on the news, were cautiously optimistic about what this means for the VR market, especially for Sony’s competitors. Yahoo Finance says that this success is, “a partial validation of VR’s marketplace potential, at a moment when years’ worth of hype, and the question of actual consumer interest, have been somewhat overshadowed by controversy.” This is about the recent legal trouble Facebook and Oculus have found themselves in earlier this year.
There is one downside to this news, however. Possibly due to Sony hedging their bets, it’s very hard to get a PSVR headset anywhere. VR Zone contacted Sony to ask how well the headset has performed in Singapore but was told that Sony does not break down sales by region. Considering that it is nearly impossible to find one in Singapore at the moment, it would be assumed that it met its target performance. Likewise, there are reports of shortages even in Japan, Sony’s stomping ground. Hopefully, this news will get them back into fabrication.