This week we learned that the PS VR2 will be priced at $550 before pre-orders open on November 15th and a February 2023 release date. Considering that you can buy a PS5 for $400 to $500 and the The original PSVR costs $400, many analysts – including my colleague and fellow VR Nick Sutrich – note that the PS VR2 is too expensive to encourage high sales and developer take-up.
I can certainly see merit in these arguments. Meta sold 15 million Quest 2 headsets as it launched at $300 and did not require a computer or console to power it; once Meta raised the price by $100, console sales plummeted, according to Meta’s latest earnings report. But current Quest owners have taken their saved money and invested it in the Quest Store, where more than 400 games have grossed over $1 million.
For Sony, PS VR2 price hurdles and PS5 requirement could easily lead to hardware drop and software sales, which in turn would deter virtual reality developers from moving away from the Quest.
Bloomberg reports that Sony will manufacture 2 million PS VR2 headsets within a month of the headset’s launch and aims to sell them all within a year. But to sell that many, it’ll take around 8% of its 25 million PS5 owners to buy (or a slightly lower percentage if you factor in console sales in 2023). But only 5% of the 116 million PS4 owners bought the original, cheaper PSVR for its entire lifespan.
Taking all this into consideration, selling a large number of PS VR2 consoles is a difficult task, which I’m not sure Sony can pull off. So how can I tell the PS VR2 price is not too expensive, you say? Because a cheaper PS VR2 wouldn’t guarantee success, and because for many gamers $550 is still a bargain.
PS VR2 will succeed where PC VR and Quest can’t
Wired VR games objectively look better than anything a Quest mobile device can achieve. For example, we called the new Iron Man VR port for Quest “perfect” in our review, but if you compare its graphics to the original PSVR version, the latter looks much better despite its advanced age.
With a powerful PC or console, you can add ray tracing and other gorgeous effects to a game that will look like a PS2-era title on mobile Quest. It’s a scale of difference best illustrated between the low-res Resident Evil 4 VR Quest port and the gorgeous Resident Evil Village, which will be coming to PS VR2. The same goes for most PC-grade VR games like Half-Life: Alyx.
The problem is that PC VR games just don’t sell very well. Buying a $1000 Valve Index, or even something cheaper like the HP Reverb G2 or Quest 2 with a Link cable, adds up to spending thousands on a rig of gaming quality. And then, with every title you buy, you have to adjust your settings to work within your PC’s specs. It’s intimidating and expensive!
While PC VR games may remain a hobby for niche enthusiasts, the original PSVR made things simpler as it ensured all of its games were built to its exact specs, so no tinkering with settings. It just had to deal with VR’s early reputation and its own first-gen issues like poor controller tracking and a blurry 1080p screen that didn’t do the graphics justice.
The advantage of PS VR2 is that you get its powerful PS5 hardware – 8 cores at 3.5 GHz, 10.28 TFLOPS, 16 GB of memory with 448 GB/s memory bandwidth, etc. – and every game will be built to those exact specs. It’s a more accessible version of PC VR with the same great visuals but at half the cost for the headset and “computer”, with no tweaks or worries about your PC becoming obsolete.
So while many of the PS VR2’s upcoming titles are already on the Quest, they’ll look and leap and bound better on Sony’s headset. Exclusives like Horizon Call of the Mountain, Village and No Man’s Sky could never work on a mobile headset and give the PS VR2 vital brand recognition.
A total of $1,050 is still more than many players are willing to pay upfront. But for PS5 owners who have been tempted by VR but don’t have a gaming PC, spending just $550 more isn’t unreasonable compared to the alternatives. Especially considering how well the PS VR2 beats the Quest 2 in many areas.
Sony doesn’t cut corners
If you compare the PS VR2 to the Quest 2, you’ll find all the ways Sony could improve the headset because it didn’t need a standalone processor. 4K HDR per eye, 110-degree field of view, OLED lenses with deep blacks and 120Hz support, and revamped Sense controllers with advanced triggers and haptics are all state-of-the-art. for a device at this price.
And that’s not even taking into account the performance backed by the PS5, which should be superb. Additionally, thanks to two internal cameras for eye-tracking, PS VR2 games can support foveal rendering, which we know from a panel of Unity developers can provide a huge boost to gameplay. GPU image and CPU thread performance for PS VR2 games.
The only obvious downside, of course, is the cable attached to the console, which makes the PS VR2 unsuitable for room-scale gaming. But for gamers who prefer to sit or don’t have huge VR spaces, they’ll compromise here for better specs elsewhere.
To hit its $299 sticker price, Meta gave the Quest 2 a terrible strap that can’t hold its weight, a foam cover that gave people rashes, and other design compromises that forced people to spend hundreds on accessories to get the best experience. Even then, it raised the price to $400 this year without any upgrades, hoping to make more profit.
We’re excited that Meta Quest 3 is coming in 2023 with a revamped chip, pancake lenses, and a color passthrough for mixed reality. But to hit its estimated $500 price tag, it had to bring back the same uncomfortable strap and ditch the eye-tracking found in the Quest Pro, according to leaks. It will always be a compromised customer experience to keep it standalone at an affordable price.
Basically, Meta got consumers thinking that VR can be both affordable and good through a very delicate balancing act. And Sony shouldn’t take the same path if it wants to succeed.
No more room for a cheap VR gaming accessory
There’s a reason almost no well-known VR headset besides the Quest 2 and Pico 4 are under $500 these days, and headsets like the Daydream and Oculus Go have died out – not to mention from Google Cardboard. The cheap mobile VR fad died out and consumers demanded they pay After for better quality and immersion rather than less for accessibility.
The original PSVR was affordably priced, but issues like obnoxious tracking with the Playstation Camera determined how developers could program for the headset. Sony has remedied that this time with inside-out tracking, but has also future-proofed the headset by adding eye tracking, something only enterprise and prosumer headsets have at the moment.
sony could sold a stripped-down PS VR2 with more industry-standard resolution and no eye tracking at an accessory-level price. But players know that you get what you pay for.
All of the above upgrades ensure that the PS VR2 won’t become useless before the PS5’s lifecycle ends in a few years. It might even jump to the PS6 at this point if Sony inquires about backwards compatibility.
My colleague Nick Sutrich argued that sticker shock would make the PS VR2 a “niche add-on” that developers ignore until the few owners end up putting their headsets in a closet. It could happen! But I think it’s more likely that people will abandon it if the industry quickly outgrows its capacity or it was too cheap to operate as it should.
By poaching Meta’s impressive library of Quest 2 games, Sony will give these developers a new revenue stream, Quest gamers a chance to relive their favorite titles with much greater immersion, and new VR gamers a massive library. big established names at launch. Add Playstation Studios games and even some of the best PS5 games boasting VR optimization, and gamers have reason to believe they’ll get more than enough games to justify the cost.
The optical PS VR2 costing more than the console that powers it looks bad, sure. But my guess is that the same PS5 owners who searched for consoles on eBay and obsessively followed Matt Swider’s tweets for the latest console releases online would spend $550 if Sony made the headset compelling enough to buy.
So now we just need to review the headset in February and see if Sony pulled it off.