Details on the last of the “big three” VR platforms has finally arrived. By way of an official blog post and an event happening at this week’s Game Developer’s Conference, we now know that Sony’s PlayStation VR will release in October of this year and will cost $399 in the US (with a €399 price tag in Europe, £349 in the UK, and a startlingly high $549 in Canada). As a reminder, the Oculus Rift was priced at $599 USD and Valve/HTC’s Vive came in at $799 USD. So, on its face, the PlayStation VR is clearly the most affordable of the three. There is a small catch though…
For $399, you’ll get the VR headset itself, an external processor unit, the necessary cables, and a pair of headphones. A Sony press release explains that the external processor will be used for “3D audio processing, Social Screen, and Cinematic mode,” which runs against some early speculation that the box would be used for doing the bulk of the VR rendering itself. Social Screen is what Sony is calling the PlayStation VR’s ability to mirror a player’s vision on a connected TV so that others can watch as they play, and cinematic mode lets users view traditional content on a virtual screen that sizes up to 255 inches.
Notably absent from this package, however, are the PlayStation Camera and the Move controllers. The latter are only used with a subset of PlayStation VR games, and reports from the event in San Francisco say that the majority of the games that Sony is showing off today don’t use them. But the PlayStation Camera is a different story: As far as we understand it, the VR headset requires the Camera for head tracking, so users who haven’t already purchased one will need to do so separately. Not only could that make for a bad shopping experience, it also really undermines the $399 price point. I get it, you want to come in under $400, but it’s a bad look when you fail to pack in a necessary component in order to do that.
In better news, Sony announced that the launch line up for the PlayStation VR will be packed with games:
Today more than 230 developers are building content for PlayStation VR, from smaller independent teams to larger studios at the industry’s top publishers. We expect to have more than 50 games available from launch in October 2016 until the end of the year. … Additionally, The Playroom VR, from our very own Japan Studio, will be available as a free download from PlayStation Store for all PS VR owners at launch. The Playroom VR will include six games that can be enjoyed with friends and family, demonstrating why we believe VR can also be an impactful experience when it’s shared.
I don’t expect each of those 50 games to be a blast, but with that many, there’s a good chance that we’ll see some cool stuff by the end of the year.
While I wish that the pricing on this thing was more straight forward, I’m still pretty happy with the overall price. Assuming that the PlaySation Camera continues to retail for around $50, $450 seems reasonable since the competing headsets come in so much higher than that (especially since they’d each require a better video card than I currently have).
I try not to leave articles like this on a question for the reader, but this seems like the right place to do it: Now that details on the Rift, Vive, and PlayStation VR are all available, are you going to take a leap into virtual reality this year? If so, which way are you leaning and what was the deciding factor? And one last question that’s a bit harder: Is there a game that you’re especially excited to play in VR, or are you more interested in it as a platform with potential?
I think I know how I would answer these questions, but I’m incredibly curious what y’all think!