Virtual reality

Sony’s VR headset-console integration could limit sales, but allow depth

“[Sony is] consciously gearing it to a smaller, more lucrative market,” one analyst said.
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Sony

· 3 min read

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If the future of gaming is VR, Sony is doing its best to get ready.

The company’s second-generation VR headset, the PS VR2, is set to release in February 2023 and will cost $550. The company plans to make 2 million headsets by March 2023, per Bloomberg; for comparison, in total, 11.2 million VR/AR headsets were sold in 2021, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC).

The PS VR2 is Sony’s latest bid to compete in the VR headset market, which Meta currently dominates with 86% market share as of Q2 2022, according to IDC, but it comes with a major caveat. Unlike Meta’s standalone headsets, Sony’s product must be connected to a PS5, of which the company has sold 25 million units since its 2020 release.

“[Sony is] consciously gearing it to a smaller, more lucrative market. I don’t think they’re aiming to get a majority of the VR headset sales,” Yoram Wurmser, principal analyst at Insider Intelligence, told Emerging Tech Brew. “In terms of unit sales, that’s definitely going to limit them.”

Even so, Wurmser said Sony’s focus on gaming could be a strength. While Meta’s business strategy is focused on finding an audience for its VR offerings, ranging from workplace apps to fitness to casual gaming, Sony is already a platform for premium gaming, Wurmser said.

“If you talk about number of users, I think Meta has better potential,” Jitesh Ubrani, senior research manager for worldwide mobile device trackers at IDC, told Emerging Tech Brew. “But if you talk about dollars, I think that’s where it could be either one’s game. The reason I say that is because games for PSVR have typically been more expensive than they have been for Quest 2.”

In August, Sony reported that the PS4, which is required to use the first edition of the PS VR, has sold 117.2 million units overall. Yet IDC estimates that only 5.5 million PS VR headsets have been sold to date. Meanwhile, since it debuted in October 2020, 17.2 million units of the Quest 2 have been shipped as of Q2 2022, according to IDC.

Sony declined to make someone available for comment before publication of this story. It has not announced any plans for an untethered headset.

The strategy of linking the headset with the console presents one additional challenge that could limit sales, Urbani said: Consumers that do not already own a PS5 will need to buy not one but two expensive pieces of hardware. In total, the price of the PS VR2 and accompanying PS5 would reach over $1,000 total. At a time when inflation is high, that could be a hard sell, he said.

“The price is going to be a barrier for many, even those who are kind of on the fence right now. You’re basically doubling your cost. I think a lot of people are gonna think twice about that, especially given the macroeconomic environment that we're in today,” Ubrani said.

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