While Sony’s second attempt at a virtual reality headset won’t hit the market until sometime next year, the PSVR2 has already generated considerable hype, thanks to early impressions from critics who have been nearly universally positive. Polygon noted that it was “caught off guard by how stunning two of its marquee games, Horizon Call of the Mountain and Resident Evil Village, looked.” Eurogamer remarked that “this feels like one of the more memorable generational console leaps,” while GameSpot called the PSVR2 experience “a bit of magic.”
These glowing statements have no doubt put a smile on many faces across the global PlayStation team, but it takes much more than positive sentiment in the media to launch a successful product in today’s market. As a veteran platform holder, Sony is well aware that the right balance of hardware price and killer apps will be necessary to attract players. The original PSVR retailed for $499 and managed to sell through over 5 million units among a base of more than 117 million PS4 owners. Considering the niche status of VR when PSVR first debuted, that’s a good attach rate, especially when factoring in the cost of the device on top of a PlayStation 4 itself.
Sony has over 20 million PS5 consoles in the marketplace thus far, which will limit the initial PSVR2 uptake, but similar to the first PSVR, this a device that will be sold for years to come and may receive even more support given the more mature state of VR gaming in 2023. When the PSVR2 launches next year, there should be more than 20 VR titles available, and according to Sony Interactive Entertainment boss Jim Ryan, “There is a considerable amount of money being spent on partnerships with independent and other third-party developers to secure a considerable pipeline of attractive VR content.”
While Meta’s Oculus Quest and Quest 2 standalone headsets deserve a lot of credit for helping to popularize VR gaming, the PlayStation audience has been among the early adopter crowd for the technology, which should bode well for the PSVR2. According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, almost one-fifth of PlayStation console owners in the US report owning a VR headset (any headset, including PSVR), which is several percentage points higher than the general gaming population.
PSVR2 won’t be launching in a vacuum, of course, as Meta, Apple, and others are expected to launch new headsets in the future, particularly as big tech looks to further invest in the burgeoning metaverse. What Sony has going for it, however, is its longstanding developer relationships, a first-class studio system, and the ability to offer VR experiences completely unique to PlayStation.
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