Sony’s launch of PlayStation VR bolsters virtual reality market

by Parks Associates | Oct. 13, 2016

Sony launched its much-anticipated PlayStation VR Thursday morning in a move that will likely have a drastic impact on the gaming experience. Brett Sappington, Senior Director of Research at Parks Associates, provided insight on the retail launch strategy, the impact of PlayStation VR on the market, problems to anticipate, and new games/content for the device. His comments are included below:

Retail launch strategy:

The launch strategy and advertising surrounding PlayStation VR are more reminiscent of a traditional gaming console than of other VR headsets that have been released.

Like traditional gaming consoles, PlayStation VR is based on value and giving the users the most for what they are paying. A great comparison between PlayStation VR and the Vive and Rift is the comparison between gaming consoles and gaming computers. A user is never going to get the high performance that gaming PCs are capable of on a console, but the gaming console experience will be adequate, more affordable, and lasting.

Impact on the market:

PlayStation VR will offer fully tracked, premium-quality VR to users for far less than competing headsets. Not only does the PlayStation VR headset itself cost far less than the Rift and the Vive, but the intelligence behind it – the PlayStation 4 – costs the users about a third of what the recommended spec computers for the Vive and Rift cost. Also, far more users already own PlayStation 4 consoles than high-performance gaming computers.

Problems to anticipate:

PlayStation VR isn’t tracked as precisely as the Rift or HTC Vive, especially when the user isn’t facing the camera, and especially in bright environments. Losing tracking can be jarring and frustrating for users and break the immersive experience.

Available games/content:

In terms of content, PlayStation VR will have 30 launch titles and another 20 or more to follow in Q4 2016, which should be plenty of initial content for PlayStation VR owners.

Launching with free games isn’t a revolutionary concept for traditional gaming consoles, but with VR, giving users a wide variety of free and demo content is especially important. The headset owners can use those demos and free content to showcase VR content to their friends, which will help grow VR as a market.

One common complaint with PlayStation VR titles (as well as most other VR headset titles) is that the games and content are too short. That issue should be fixed in time as developers get more used to developing for VR.

Parks Associates research shows millennials are likely Sony’s target demographic for the PlayStation VR:

  • 8%, or 1.5 million, millennials plan to purchase a VR headset in 2016.
  • 4% of millennials own a VR headset, compared to 2% ownership among average households.
  • 12% of male millennials and 5% of female millennials intend to purchase a VR headset this year.
  • 8% of millennials show high familiarity with augmented reality, compared to 3% for Generation X and just 1% for baby boomers.

For more information on Parks Associates' virtual reality and augmented reality research, click here.

Further Reading:

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