Is PSVR 2 too expensive? Or: Why I think PSVR 2 might sell badly

PSVR 2 new Header

After roughly a year of teasing build up and piecemeal announcements, Sony has finally confirmed the release date for the PlayStation VR 2 is 22nd February 2023. It’s a product launch that will beckon in a new era of VR gaming, open the floodgates to so many more people, make it more accessible and…. wait, it costs how much!?

I think many of us saw something like this coming, but PSVR 2 costs more than the PS5 that you need to plug it into, and that is absolutely certain to affect how many VR headsets Sony are going to be able to sell in the next few years.

At $549.99 (pre-tax) / €599.99 / £529.99, you’ll be paying 50 of your local monies more than you would do for a PS5 console in late 2022. At that price, with everything going on in the world right now, I simply cannot see PSVR 2 having a significantly broader reach than the original headset. I feel there’s a real chance that it sells “badly”, failing to keep up the same pace as the original headset.

PSVR 2 Horizon Call of the Mountain

Horizon Call of the Mountain will be the leading exclusive game for PSVR 2’s launch.

Now, truth be told, this is actually quite a competitive price for what the headset offers. It’s significantly cheaper than PC VR alternatives like the Valve Index (still at $999), and all versions of the HTC Vive ($749 for the Vive Cosmos Elite, the cheapest real alternative), and HP Reverb G2 ($599), and you’re plugging it into a gaming machine that’s also vastly cheaper than a high-end gaming PC. The only real competitor for the mass market is the Quest 2 (now starting at $399, but originally just $299), which is a standalone VR headset that can also be plugged into a PC.

It’s even pretty competitive (ignoring seven years of inflation) to the original PSVR. That might have started at $399, but the true cost was actually at least $499 to get the PS Camera and PS Move controllers you also needed. PSVR 2 doesn’t need the external camera, but does drop a pair of all important Sense controllers into the box.

The price is also justified by the features. Where the original PSVR made sacrifices to hit its price point, PSVR 2 is pretty cutting edge in many ways. PSVR 2 beats all but the Vive Pro 2 and HP Reverb in terms of per-eye screen resolution. It includes features like headset vibration and eye-tracking, the Sense controllers building in all the haptics of the DualSense and adding more sensors to detect finger placement.

PSVR2 design

PSVR 2 outstrips much of the competition’s specs, and often at a lower price.

This is all fantastic technology and will both bring PSVR 2 up to meet the standards set by other VR headsets and exceed them in some ways, but the way it’s priced means that Sony will be preaching to the choir.

The simple fact is that we are in the middle of a cost of living crisis. Inflation is in the double digits and wages have not kept up, we’ve seen dramatic swings in currency values (even in countries without utterly incompetent finance ministers), and just getting by is becoming more of a struggle for millions. Yes, the PS5 has been selling as fast as Sony can make them, despite being 25% more expensive than the launch PS4, but that’s a console that does everything compared to a VR headset’s handful of very specific things.

PSVR sold 5 million units within three years, but it was helped along by significant price cuts and promotions. There were cheaper priced bundled less than a year after launch and there was reliable Black Friday price slashing. That’s not likely to happen this time around. Just as gamers will be feeling the pinch, Sony’s also been giving in to the rising costs of doing business, raising the price of their gaming console for the first time ever – Meta also bumped up the price of the Quest 2 this year, and Microsoft is considering increases for Xbox. This is not an environment in which PSVR 2 can quickly come down to more consumer friendly pricing any time soon, and that will hurt after the initial flurry of sales to early adopters.

PSVR 2 Launch Games

Sony announced 11 more launch games for PSVR 2, some of which are cross-gen or PSVR upgrades.

The problem is that, where on PC you can still use those original generation headsets with a PC, a year from now, the original PSVR might as well be dust – many would argue it already is. This means that PSVR 2 games will, for the foreseeable future, be the preserve of existing VR enthusiasts (and probably PC gamers if they can get it working with SteamVR).

That’s a real shame, because outside of Meta’s standalone headsets, PlayStation VR headsets remain one of the biggest areas of potential growth for the technology. Looking to the future, it’s PSVR 2 that could (it might not, but it could) become that baseline VR headset for Sony. If the next generations stick with an industry standard connector in USB-C, if the inside out tracking remains the standard, then using a PSVR 2 in 2033 might be like plugging a PlayStation 5 into a 1080p TV today. Lower resolution, maybe lower frame rates and certain fidelity, but still a more than good enough experience for many.

For now, PSVR 2 seems too expensive, and given the sentiments I’ve seen online, I fear that it will get off to a slower start than Sony and the developers working on VR will have hoped for. I hope I’m wrong.

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  1. I think it’s probably the best price Sony could manage with the current situation. PSVR1 cost the same as the PS4. With the improvements and bundled controllers, PSVR2 would be quite reasonable if it was the same price as the PS5.

    But then everything’s gone wrong over the past couple of years. And Sony seem to be basing all the prices on the US price, which doesn’t help when a pound isn’t worth much. (I think the exchange rate when PSVR1 launched would have meant PSVR2 would cost about the same as the PS5 does)

    PSVR1 must have sold closer to 6m by now. Maybe even closer to 7m. There was a point where the number of members of the PSVR sub-reddit was surprisingly accurately following the officially announced sales. Sales were about 42 times the number of members, which would put it at about 7m now. Although I suspect that correlation has got a bit more dubious lately.

    If that ratio of PS4 to PSVR1 users still applies, that’d make a million or so PSVR2 sales. So plenty of availability if the 2m produced by March number is to be believed. Even with everything else going on, and the price, I suspect it’s going to beat that 5m in 3 years number. Those 2m sold by this time next year? Another million with potential (probably fairly modest) discounts for Black Friday? So 3m in it’s first year? I suspect that’s the absolute best it’ll do, but still pretty decent.

    What we really need to see is how many games get updates. 2 announced yesterday as getting free updates, NMS and RE:Village should get updates in time, and the remarkably fun Alvo is getting an update (probably as a “buy a new version at a discount” thing). Hopefully a lot more get announced by February.

    As for PSVR2 in 2033? That’d be running on a PS7 by then. Why would it have lower frame rates? I doubt any PSVR3 or 4 or whatever by then will have a display running at more than 120HZ, just a higher resolution. Probably have things running on PSVR2 at a higher framerate if it’s driving it at a lower resolution. Same as some PS5 games running at 30fps in 4k or 60fps in 1080p

    • Yes, it’s probably around the right price, relative to the competition, but there’s a lot of reasons building up for why that’s going to hurt it for at least the first couple of years. I just can’t see it significantly expanding the audience for VR at this price, and there won’t be the price cuts and Black Friday sales that helped draw in fence sitters to PSVR1.

      The 2033 point was more hypothetical. It doesn’t matter what the advances are for PSVR3, the key factor for VR in general is that the tech remains compatible, that it doesn’t upend things to the extent that PSVR2 can’t remain as a low end, low priced option at that time.

      • PSVR1 didn’t get any price cuts that first year, did it? Being launched a month before Black Friday. PSVR2 might manage it, launching a whole 9 months before it’s first Black Friday.

        Mind you, PSVR1 launched 3 years into the life of the PS4. PSVR2 is just 2 years and 3 months into the PS5, with the whole shortage of PS5s thing going on as well.

        The question is whether or not there’s enough PS5 owners that want one and aren’t put off by the price. Wasn’t PSVR1 difficult to get hold of for quite a while after launch? If there’s 2m PSVR2s available, I can see them not selling out completely, which means they can keep selling and Sony can keep announcing impressive sales figures. And with less PS5s, those figures can be “a higher percentage of PS5 owners bought a PSVR2”. All of which then makes it look like a safer bet to developers, so more games, which leads to more PSVR2 sales.

        But it all depends on if people think it’s too expensive or not. Which from what I’ve seen so far has been “It’s too expensive! No, hang on, now I think about it, it’s quite reasonable”. It also needs more games announced. Clearly developers haven’t been allowed to say anything yet. There’s been quite a few not denying or confirming upgrades. The next couple of months of announcements and whatever happens around the world are going to be crucial.

        What are the chances the PS5 has an unusually long life compared to previous consoles? Could keep PSVR2 sales going for a long time.

        But yes, the first couple of years could be a challenge, with the potential for a cheaper Quest to race ahead. But remember the story of the hairy tortoise!

      • PSVR debuted October 2016, $50 price cut in September 2017 for the $500 full kit, and they started bundling in the camera for the $400 starter kit (effective $50 price cut). That Starter Pack was then slashed to £250/$300 for Black Friday 2017. With that kind of price cut, yes, it was quite difficult to get hold of. They sold 2 million by end 2017.

  2. The crazy thing is that if they opened it up to work with PC, it would probably sell like hotcakes. I have a Dell WMR headset that I’d consider upgrading to a PSVR2, as you say it’s priced very competitively for the specs it includes.

  3. I don’t know about everyone else but my PS5 is worth about £800 by the time you consider the extra internal and external hard drives. Not to mention a decent OLED TV. If they hadn’t driven down the cost of the PS5 so much then we’d have different expectations on how much this sort of tech costs. I kinda wish they didn’t make so many compromises to make things so cheap, I don’t want my phone to be worth more than my games console.
    I’m glad they haven’t cut too many corners on the PSVR2, but you are right it’s really gonna struggle to get going. Fingers crossed for some epic games to bring in those on the fence.

  4. If I turn my heating down by a degree or two and wear an extra jumper over the winter I’ll be able to save enough to buy a PSVR2 by February, probably two the price that energy is now!

  5. It’s still tempting, if the exclusive games are there, but it’s a tough sell against things like the Quest 2 that you can use untethered and for PCVR.

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