The concept of VR isn’t niche anymore, but it’s not yet to the point where it’s normal for someone to own those oversized goggles. Despite that, we’ve seen a market for VR games; popular titles for virtual reality include Beat Saber, Superhot, and Star Wars Squadrons. I wasn’t surprised when I learned that Sony was planning to make a second PSVR headset, considering that the first was arguably the most popular of its generation. However, Sony seems to have misfired its shots this time around.
A report from Bloomberg shows Song’s sales projections for the launch of their upcoming PlayStation VR2 due to receiving fewer preorders than expected. The quantity forecast was reduced from 2 million to 1 million for the virtual reality headset’s launch.
Nobody Seems to Want A PlayStation VR2
The preorders for the PSVR2 already went live back in November 2022. However, despite four months passing by, many digital and brick-and-mortar stores continue to take orders without having a waitlist despite the headset’s launch being less than a month away. It starkly contrasts the reception other hardware got, like the Meta Quest 2.
Nobody wants to have (or can afford) a PSVR2. Based on specs, there are a couple of factors why gamers aren’t looking to get it anytime soon.
The Price is Too Much
One of the main reasons is its price. The PSVR2 is priced at $550. It’s well above what Meta Quest offers and even more expensive than the PlayStation 5. While the PSV2 improves on the issues of its older brother, paying a hefty price for the PS5-exclusive VR headset only to have it tethered to your console doesn’t exactly scream premium.
You’ll Need A PlayStation 5 to Play It
Then there’s the matter of the PS5 as well—you’ll need the console to play the PSVR2. If you don’t have a PlayStation 5, you’ll have to buy the hardware first to enjoy the expensive accessory. The PlayStation V2 seems pretty well-priced compared to what Sony’s rivals are offering, like the HTC Vive Pro 2 and Valve Index, but the latter sets are viewed as better investments since you can use them across different devices and systems.
Wireless VR Headsets Are the Way to Go Now
Cord-free VR headsets are way better than running around and potentially tripping while you have an immersive experience. Many VR headsets these days include a wireless adapter to charge their batteries, making them free of tangled cords. Meanwhile, the PSVR2 is taking a backward step to this approach; you’ll still be tethered to your console. Sure it remedies the problem of the PSVR back then when you had to route several cables through your PS4, but you’re still at the mercy of a cable. This means you’ll always have to be conscious of not getting too far away from your PS5, lest you damage the hardware AND your headset.
Limited Launch Titles
Coughing up $550 (plus more if you’re also getting a PS5) for a handful of games isn’t worth it. What’s worse is that most of the games you’ll be getting are merely ports from Sony’s previous console. The new Horizon VR title is coming out, which is the biggest draw. But even then, you’re not going to miss out on much if you opt not to purchase the VR headset for just a single game in mind.
The Nail in the Coffin: The PSVR2 is Not Backwards Compatible
You read that right—the PSVR2 can only be used with Sony’s PlayStation 5. This incompatibility with other consoles and systems will likely confine the PSVR2 to niche status. Sony’s competitor in the VR scene, Meta, has invested heavily in making VR more accessible and affordable. On the other side of the spectrum, Sony seems to be doing the exact opposite by trying to keep their VR segment to itself rather than expand it to new audiences.
High Hopes for VR Gaming
Consumers have weaned into VR less rapidly than the gaming industry initially hoped. Held back by the lack of titles available for the platform, not many game developers could showcase the technology’s power. However, things are looking brighter for 2023, as IDC estimates worldwide shipments of AR and VR headsets are expected to grow to 31.5%.
For now, the market is dominated by Meta Platforms, the makers of the Meta Quest range, covering an 85% share. Meanwhile, Sony doesn’t even rank as one of the top five providers; its first PSVR didn’t even manage to secure a 1% share. Only time will tell if Sony can turn their PSVR2 into a success story, but for now, we’re skeptical as to whether this will happen. There’s currently a drop in demand for VR, but despite having lackluster reception, the long-term road for AR/VR still looks promising.