With virtual reality heating up in 2016, Sony this week revealed more about its plans to come out with its own VR headset. The PlayStation VR, which will cost $399 and come out in October, will hit the market later than VR headsets from HTC and Facebook’s Oculus. But folks may think the wait is worth it. While the other headsets need a pricey desktop computer to work, the PlayStation headset can be used on the PlayStation 4 gaming console, a device millions of folks already have, so the PlayStation VR might prove a more popular option.
Keep swiping that credit card, folks. The latest VR headset announcement comes with yet another price caveat with today’s PlayStation VR price announcement not telling quite the whole story.
That $399 US price tag — it’s AU$550 in Australia and £349 in the UK — won’t do anything unless you also own a PlayStation Camera, priced at $59, AU$75 or £39. It simply will not work at all. Add to this that many games will also demand two PlayStation Move controllers, which are about $49, AU$46 or £24 each, and suddenly the “full” PSVR experience bumps that price of admission up to around $556, AU$715 or £436.
The fight to be the VR platform of choice is getting very hot, and now the three major VR players have placed their cards on the table. The big question is whether price, content or ease of installation will win the day, or whether the mass market will hold fire until cheaper options become available in future generations.
As we’ve discussed elsewhere, a VR headset is just a movie screen for 360-degree videos unless you have a way to interact inside the virtual world. So for the PlayStation VR that means you need at least the PlayStation Camera, which launched alongside the console, to track your actions and translate them into the game world.Even with these extra costs, the PlayStation VR still beats the Oculus Rift launch price of $599, AU$649 or £499, which also doesn’t include controllers. For Oculus, you plug it into your VR-ready PC and use PC or Xbox controls as an interface, but genuine motion controls will be announced later at an undisclosed price.
The HTC Vive is the only complete room VR package on offer, but it comes in at $799. And you still need to have a VR-ready PC to even turn the hardware on.
For all of the above, the PlayStation VR still looks most promising with a total package price, including a PS4, PSVR, camera and controllers, around $900, AU$1,200 or £725. And for many PlayStation 4 owners — already the leading console of the current generation with over 36 million sold — they will already own a Camera and maybe have a Move controller or two still knocking around from the PS3.
But the constant add-ons and extras to even get off the ground could keep people from pulling the trigger on getting VR up and running in their living rooms.