In a move that has been designed to attract new customers to their PlayStation VR platform, Sony Interactive Entertainment have just slashed the price of their PSVR Starter Kit to a more wallet friendly price of £259.99 from it’s previous selling price of £349.99. Bearing in mind the fact that gamers needed to previously own a PS4 (or PS4 Pro) in addition to this, it’s a huge saving and certainly an incentive for people to take a leap into the virtual world who were sitting on the fence.
They’re not the only ones taking steps to bring immersive gaming to the masses though. Both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift have seen price drops to make them more appealing to would-be buyers and to attempt to take a slice out of Sony’s market dominance. With HTC dropping the price of their headsets twice in the last 12 months and Oculus following suit, along with the upcoming release of their standalone oculusGo and Gear range of add-ons for Samsung smartphones it’s certainly a vibrant market.
However, it’s easy to see why Sony are spearheading all of the current VR trends right now. At the heart of it is the hardware behind the headset. While HTC are the dominant brand in terms of quality, their pricing puts them out of range of the average consumer and Sony know it. To a lesser degree, the $399 price tag of the Oculus Rift does the same. While on paper it makes the Rift seem comparable to PlayStation VR, the reality puts both on different playing fields.
What makes PSVR different is the core costs needed to get the system up and running fully for the average gamer. For UK gamers, the entry level price now to be up and running with PSVR including the cost of a PS4 for as little as £520. Compare that to the Gear which requires a smartphone that will have cost the user just as much if not more (not counting the Gear headset) or the PC based systems that require gaming-spec computers in addition to the higher cost headsets. Just on a financial level, the PlayStation VR is the most affordable of all of the systems on offer. The fact that it naturally lends itself to being part of the living room environment makes for an added bonus, something that really only the Gear offers out of the other options.
But its so much more than that. All of the platforms are supporting the big budget AAA titles either immediately or through patches but in reality there are only so many times we can play Call Of Duty in VR without getting tired of the same old game. If VR is to have a real impact on gaming in the long term it needs to offer innovation and originality and the smaller independent studios seem to be thriving on this. Sony has encouraged hundreds of studios to create games exclusively for PSVR that don’t fall into the clichéd commercial AAA genres and it seems to be working. Not only has Sony appealed to gamers wallets, but by offering them true gaming variety as well. To ensure that VR stays fresh and appealing and that headsets aren’t pushed to the back of a cupboard after a few days use that’s probably the most important thing of all in today’s market and it looks like Sony have got it nailed down to a T.