After months of waiting, Sony has finally spilled the beans about the PlayStation VR’s retail release. It’s shipping sometime in October 2016, it’ll cost $ 399, and the PlayStation Camera won’t be bundled in the standard SKU. Based on current Amazon prices, that puts the total cost of the PS4, camera, and PSVR at about $ 792 — roughly half the price of a PC and Oculus bundle. Is this significantly lower barrier to entry enough to propel PlayStation VR to the top, or is this headset doomed for a dusty shelf?
Over at the PlayStation blog, you can see for yourself just exactly what $ 399 will buy you. You’ll get the helmet itself, a set of earbuds, the infamous breakout box, and various different cables. Sadly, the mandatory camera is nowhere to be found. However, it’s not quite as bad as it sounds. While the camera’s list price is $ 60, it almost never sells for that price in the real world. Amazon is currently selling it for $ 44.08, and I got mine on sale for just $ 30.
Also worth noting is the lack of bundled controllers. The PS4 itself comes with a DualShock 4 with a built-in light bar, so that will work with a wide swath of VR titles right out of the gate. However, some games will take advantage of the PlayStation Move controller. If you want that experience, you’re probably going to need to drop about $ 29. However, I wouldn’t rush out and buy one just yet. We’re still not sure if it’ll be mandatory for any specific title. And truth be told, I don’t expect the Move controller to get much traction.
Besides retail info, we also saw confirmation on the final specs. The screen inside the helmet is a 5.7-inch OLED display with a 1920×1080 resolution (960×1080 per eye). It supports the same 90Hz refresh rate that other helmets seem to be standardizing on, but it also supports 120Hz so that 60Hz games can be reprojected at twice the native frame rate. The field of view is, oddly, listed as “approximately 100 degrees,” so the real number is still up in the air. Latency-wise, Sony is still keeping it vague with “less than 18ms.” How much less? Who can say? We probably won’t know until we get the PSVR in our own hands for testing. And as for tracking, the helmet sports nine LEDs that allow the camera to detect your position even when you’re facing away.
With over 35 million PS4s sold worldwide, many interested consumers will only need to buy the helmet and camera (~$ 443) come October. I don’t have a detailed breakdown of high-end graphic card sales, but it’s a pretty safe assumption that more people are willing to spend $ 350 on a console than a single PC component. And with a quick glance at the Steam hardware survey, my gut instinct seems to be correct — most PC gamers aren’t capable of properly powering the retail headsets.
The PSVR is simply an easier sell to the average consumer than a Rift or a Vive. It’s cheaper, they’re more likely to already have compatible hardware, and Sony is promising 50 PSVR games by the end of the year. Even with all of those benefits, Sony still has a tough row to hoe. This accessory is more than twice as expensive as the Xbox 360’s Kinect was, and despite Microsoft’s substantial success, that sold to well under half of the 360’s install base. Don’t bet on VR hitting the mainstream in 2016 — it still needs a few hardware revisions before we can hope to see it make a massive breakthrough.