The virtual reality market is already pretty crowded, and is set to become even more so in the next few months. While the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive show their dominance in the high-end market, requiring a hefty PC and significant dough to get started, the mobile world is grooving to the tune of the Gear VR as Cardboard fades away, but is soon set to be rocked by Google's Daydream. A happy middle ground is something consumers will likely appreciate, and that's precisely what Sony plans to provide with the PlayStation VR. That and at least 150 games, before all is said and done, 50 of which should be available at the platform's launch.
Sony, an electronics company since its inception, has made a huge name for itself in the gaming segment since the launch of its original PlayStation back in the day. Originally planned as an addon to the Super Nintendo, when talks with Nintendo fell through, Sony struck out on their own and struck gold. Four system revisions later, the PlayStation 4 is ready to lower the bar of entry for premium VR and provide users with an incredible gaming experience that they literally won't be able to get anywhere else.
To compare prices, let's start with the headsets themselves. The Oculus Rift will set you back $599, whereas the HTC Vive costs $799. The PlayStation VR will cost $399 when it launches this October. As for a platform to play on; a desktop PC with the minimum specs to run VR applications in Oculus or Vive friendly formats will need a 4th-generation Intel Core i5 processor and an Nvidia GTX 970 GPU, at a minimum, along with at least 4GB of RAM. These systems start at about $500. A PlayStation 4, however, starts out at only about $350, and can get cheaper from there depending on where you look. This means that, for a user who does not have any VR compatible equipment of any sort, choosing the PlayStation VR over the Oculus, the cheaper of the two options, will see them saving about $350. Users will eventually have the option to go for the pricier and more powerful PS4 Neo, but the basic PS4 model will run VR. According to John Koller, PlayStation's VP of marketing, the game lineup is more important than the price.
At E3, Sony showed off a number of games, but they didn't show off all 50 of the planned launch titles for PlayStation VR. Sony's top man in games, Shawn Layden, said that the platform will have 50 titles out of the gate when it launches on October 13 of this year. Among them will be Resident Evil 7, a Star Wars game of some sort and a VR counterpart to Final Fantasy XV. Sony is obviously making a huge push into VR and committing to their new platform. While other platforms are tending nicely to developers, nobody has the historically proven third-party clout that Sony has. Their power to court developers is what has made the PlayStation lineup what it is over the years. The PlayStation 1 popularized RPGs and gave users a selection of quirky and unique games that competed with the Nintendo 64 on equal ground. The PlayStation 2 was the one and only place to go if you were a JRPG fan. The PlayStation 3 scored an exclusive killer app in Metal Gear Solid 4, and proceeded to snatch up hits like Demons Souls and 3D Dot Game Heroes, as well as play host to Sony's own properties like Uncharted. The PlayStation 4's exclusives library hasn't been quite up to par with the other generations thus far, but that looks ready to change, especially with VR in the equation.
Sony's approach to VR essentially boils down to providing experiences you won't get elsewhere through exclusive games that do unique things. The low price point helps to hook users, but as Nintendo learned the hard way with the Wii U and 3DS, early sales don't mean much in the long run. By catering to developers, you're catering to gamers, and Sony knows this better than anybody. Future titles in iconic Sony series like Resistance: Fall of Man and God Of War look ready to propel the PS4 to greatness and take the PlayStation VR with it, peppering it along the way with the kind of titles that will make dedicated PC gamers consider buying a console. Koller did point out, as an aside, that PlayStation VR has "no choice" but to look outside of gaming in the grand scheme of things; he mentioned storytelling in particular, citing choose your own adventure and short-form fiction as potentially great with PlayStation VR.