Low-Cost Bundle Beckons Gamers to PlayStation VR

By Quinten Plummer
Mar 21, 2016 12:31 PM PT

Sony last week announced it would begin taking preorders for a cost-shaving virtual reality bundle.

Priced at US$499, the PlayStation VR bundle includes everything needed except the PlayStation 4 console. It contains a VR headset, cables, stereo headphones, a PlayStation camera, two PlayStation Move motion controllers and a pair of discs etched with VR demos.

Purchasing the headset by itself would set you back $399.

One of the included discs is PlayStation VR Worlds, which has five interactive experiences: a mob interrogation, VR street luge, salvage diving, sci-fi treasure hunting and a futuristic sport.

The bundle will be available for preorder Tuesday in limited quantities. Sony hasn't released a date for advance orders of the core package, which would contain the headset and presumably the cables.

For those who miss the first wave of bundle preorders, Sony has indicated that it will take more orders this summer ahead of the headset's planned October launch.

Both waves likely will sell out quickly, predicted Stephanie Llamas, director of research and VR lead at SuperData Research.

"If there was any doubt VR will grow drastically, that doubt should be well gone by now," she told the E-Commerce Times.

PS Moves

News of the bundle arrived just as the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco was coming to a close.

While attending the conference, Kevin Krewell, principal analyst at Tirias Research, encountered long lines for PS VR and found out that all sessions with the headset had been booked. That might be a good sign for the VR headset.

"I suspect there's a lot of developer interest, which will translate into a good amount of content," he told the E-Commerce Times.

The demos seemed decent, but it's too early to make a definitive declaration, according to Krewell. The content needs to mature.

"That's going to be more important as we get close to October, knowing the full extent of the VR content available for the PlayStation VR," he said.

While content will close the deal for many consumers, PS VR has built so much momentum because of "the visibility of the brand" and a global installed base of more than 40 million PS4 units, Llamas said.

"PlayStation has also been fairly hush-hush about their device, which is smart move since people have been waiting with bated breath to learn more since they heard the word 'Morpheus,'" she said. "There's no doubt PS VR will at least double the install base of the Vive and Oculus by year's end."

Price and Perception

With PlayStation Move and the camera combining for a price that's easily north of $100, the PS VR bundle could be a sensible buy.

However, the starter kit for PlayStation's brand of VR is still a tad pricey. "It's cheaper than the Oculus Rift, but the problem is that's more expensive than any other console gaming peripheral," Krewell said.

"So it's going to be limited in terms of volume, compared to more mainstream console gaming accessories, but there's still a lot of interest," he added.

The pricing of PS VR was certainly "a bait and switch," noted Llamas.

"Announcing a price for an incomplete device, since you need to purchase the camera separately, was clearly a way to undercut their competition and make their price look drastically different," she said.

On top of that, PS VR doesn't compare favorably with its PC counterparts. That's not to say it doesn't look good, said Llamas, who was also at GDC.

"However, it doesn't look like consumers really care," she noted. "The ability to have VR in your home is much more important than price as UK Amazon preorders for the device sell out and PlayStation camera sales skyrocketed."

Quinten Plummer is a longtime technology reporter and an avid PC gamer who explored local news for a few years, covering law enforcement and government beats, before returning to writing about things run by ones and zeros and the people who make them. If it pushes pixels or improves lives, he wants to learn all he can about it.

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