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Sony PSVR Answers Vive & Rift Price Cuts

This post was originally featured on Forbes.com on August 29, 2017

Sony just announced that beginning on Friday, September 1st, the existing PlayStation VR Worlds bundle (PS VR headset, PS Camera, two PlayStation Move motion controllers and PlayStation VR Worlds) will be available at a new lower price of $449 USD.

 Starting Friday, owners of the PlayStation 4 can get a full VR rig for $449.

Last week HTC cut the price of the Vive & its controllers to $599, while the Oculus Rift was slashed to $399 in July, making it the low-cost leader. Sony is characterizing this as a new bundle, not a price cut, but it’s a price cut, likely a response to its competitors, the introduction of under $500 VR headsets, and coming technology upgrades to headsets designed in 2014.

At $449 Sony PlayStation VR is the low price leader. Sony said it has sold over 1 M units. More than Vive and Rift combined.

Back in May, Sony announced it had sold 1.1 M VR headsets to its installed base of 40 M PS4 owners. Neither Vive nor Rift shares sales figures, but analysts agree the combined total sales of theirs HMDs are likely less than PSVR’s. However, since there are only 20 M VR capable gaming PCs in the world, one could conclude that all the platforms are performing proportionally.

Analyst Stephanie Llamas of Superdata Research, which follows the Game and VR industries, interrupted her vacation to tell me she thinks “Sony is using this as a way to keep players console players from moving on to the XBOX ONE X. I don’t think it has that much to do with its VR competitors — it’s more a way to show off the things that Xbox doesn’t have in anticipation of the holidays.”

HTC Vive and controllers.

As I said in my column last week, Behind Those High-End VR Price Cuts, in my view this is all about coming competition from higher end, dual use MR headsets. We’re also going to see new stand-alone (wireless) headsets from HTC itself for Google Daydream. The price is expected to be the same as the Vive. Lenovo is also developing a stand-alone headset. Both are based on the super fast, cool running Qualcomm Snapdragon chip which is also driving mobile AR for Android. In many respects, the new stand-alone is superior technologically to Vive 1.0 currently on the market.

Acer’s $300 Windows MR headset.

The Windows 10 MR release is now scheduled for December. Firefox just released its VR browser. Sansar just opened its continuous VR world generator to the public. Acer, HP, Dell and Asus are bringing a $300 headsets to the new Windows 10 MR platform. No computer upgrade required for most recent PCs. Macintosh is releasing a graphics peripheral that will make its current Macs VR capable. Next year, Macs will be VR ready.

Next stop, the Metaverse. You can teleport, but there are other fun ways to get around.

For these reasons, I expect there will be new, advanced high-end headsets from Vive and Oculus next year. They will compatible with Macs and PCs. They will feature advanced Bluetooth (BLE — Bluetooth Low Energy), better optics, advanced microphones, and hand tracking. The high-end, room scale platforms are going to get a lot higher and pull away from the stand-alone models and desktop models.

This Christmas, it will be raining headsets, including this phone powered Disney/Lenovo AR headset, here with Bluetooth peripheral Light Saber.

Sony, however, is in a unique position because of its larger installed base of VR capable PS4s. They are not facing the same pressures to upgrade as the Mac and PC platforms.

There are over 100 games available for PlayStation VR today, including Farpoint, Batman: Arkham VR, Star Trek: Bridge Crew and Resident Evil 7. Coming this fall are The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR, Doom VFR, Sparc, Bravo Team and The Inpatient.

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