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Sony PSVR 2 price and timing has set it up for failure

Sony has announced the price and release month for the PlayStation VR 2 headset, and it might take us all the way until February 22 to get used to the fact this thing costs £530/$550. 

The virtual reality headset, which requires a PS5 to work, costs more than the PlayStation 5 itself. Despite the big spec upgrade and new controllers, that’s far too much. Almost £200 more than the £349 launch price for the original PSVR in 2017. 

Despite the fact the original PSVR sold the Move controllers and a mandatory camera separately (PSVR 2 doesn’t need the latter), it’s clear Sony hasn’t read the room here. This isn’t the right time to be overpricing a luxury purchase aimed at an already niche audience. 

With this pricing, Sony has 100% removed the possibility of curiosity purchases and crushed the opportunity to expand its VR user base much beyond the enthusiasts who owned the first device. No-one spends £530 on something like this just to ‘give it a go’. Especially in February.

And what’s up with that too? Why is Sony releasing this expensive hardware on the wrong side of Christmas? As my colleague Max Parker pointed in our team chat this morning, a virtual reality headset is the perfect Christmas purchase. One of those products bought for family fun around the holidays that spends a lot of time gathering dust thereafter. 

It’s likely that Sony originally planned to get this out in time for the holidays for this precise reason. It’s the time of year it would qualify as a gift for people who can’t justify buying it for themselves.

What’s the end of February? A time when people are skint and facing the worst of the winter fuel bills, after making their pay packet stretch throughout January. It’s close enough to the spring to envision the time when they can go outside again, rather than shutting themselves off from the world. There’s absolutely zero upside to launching this device in February.

If Sony planned this all along, it’s an error. If the company simply missed its production targets, then it’s a failure. Either way, it’s put the PSVR 2 behind the 8-ball from the day it hits the shelves.

If you want a charging dock for the controllers, that’s an extra £40. If you want a bundle with Horizon Call of the Mountain, that’s an extra £40. It’s just too much money at a time when people just don’t have that kind of spare cash on hand – especially if they’re not already a VR devotee.

Not as much going for it

Prior to the recent price hike, the Oculus Quest 2 was priced in a way that attracted the curious. £300 was more justifiable for something that could be used wirelessly, was user friendly, was easily transported around to someone else’s gaff, and had a large amount of free or affordable experiences to try. 

The PSVR 2 has none of that going for it. It has to be wired to your PS5, meaning you have to cart that with your anywhere you go, and the software isn’t that abundant purely because absolutely none of the games and experiences made for the original are backward compatible. There’ll be up to 20 experiences available at launch, but is that enough to spend £530? 

Some folks are ok with it being a wired solution (USB-C) because it’ll leverage the power of the PS5 more effectively, but there’s no sugar coating the absence of first-generation experiences from the platform. 

It means those who do splash out £530 for the PS VR 2 won’t have much too play… kinda like the PS5 itself, in fact. My colleague Ryan Jones caused a ruckus among tribal PlayStation users by calling the PS5 “a major flop so far” in a recent opinion piece.

He complained that after two years on sale, there are few games that have fully utilised the PS5’s impressive hardware and even fewer that can’t be enjoyed on the PS4 anyway (good news for PS4 users of course). There aren’t many first-party titles in the pipeline for 2023 either. 25 million consoles sold, but is there even 25 top games to play after two years?

I agree with Ryan. It feels like Sony is squandering the dominant position it build-up in the previous console generation and has become complacent. Microsoft feels like the company pushing the envelope to meet gamers where they’re at and is doing the most to welcome newcomers into the fold.

Even the revamped PlayStation Plus proposition – designed to better compete with Xbox Game Pass – isn’t taking off among PS5 gamers. Since the relaunch, PS Plus has shed a whopping 1.9 million subscribers. Sony’s CFO believes it was due to the summer and the poor marketing of the various tiers. I’m more of the opinion that it missed the lay-up that was leveraging the PlayStation back catalogue of titles from the first couple of console generations. There haven’t been nearly enough so far.

However you slice it, PlayStation is misfiring on all cylinders and PS5 owners have every right to feel disgruntled. Asking them to spend £530 on an accessory that costs more than their console, two months after Christmas, might be a step too far. 

The PSVR 2 might be so good it’s a roaring success anyway, but as it stands, Sony hasn’t given its new headset the best chance to succeed.

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