The PlayStation VR headset is almost here, set for a release in October. While most existing virtual reality setups require the use of a PC, Sony’s VR unit will be used with the PlayStation 4 game console, and that’s not the only difference, it will also be less expensive than some of its competitors, like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. But Alvin Wang Graylin, head of HTC’s Chinese VR division, warns that the $399 price tag of the PSVR is a bit misleading.
While the unit itself will cost $399, there are other requirements in order for the buyer to use it. In addition to the PlayStation 4 game console, it also requires the PlayStation 4 camera and is designed for use with PlayStation Move controllers (though they are not required). PlayStation 4 owners who do not have the needed additional peripherals will have to purchase them separately, driving up the cost. The reason behind Sony’s decision to sell the peripherals separately is probably to keep customers from purchasing extra equipment they don’t need. While those who don’t have the PlayStation Move controllers and PlayStation 4 camera will have to buy them, some players have already purchased them for use with other games, so selling them separately may be the best way to avoid including unneeded parts in the box and making customers pay again for devices they already own. There will be some retailers that will be selling bundles for those who need to purchase all of the parts, which may make the overall cost of the entire system a bit more reasonable.
Although selling the unit by itself may be the most practical approach, Graylin cautions potential buyers, who may not be aware that the PlayStation VR requires other equipment, that $399 may not be the full amount you have to pay to be able to take advantage of virtual reality on the PlayStation 4. He also felt the unit itself left a bit to be desired, saying that he had "tried the product but not just been entirely comfortable after ten minutes." Meanwhile, other very inexpensive VR options are available for those with VR capable smartphones. The Samsung Gear VR, for example, is a $99 headset that works with a Samsung Galaxy smartphone to provide a similar VR experience at a much lower price. Of course, it probably won’t perform on par with high-end options such as the Oculus Rift, but at a fraction of the cost, it does make VR accessible to more people. One of the strengths of the PlayStation VR will be its fantastic selection of games, with 50 games planned for release between the launch of the headset and the end of the year.