270,000 headsets may sound like a lot, but Sony originally expected to sell two million headsets by the end of March, so the PlayStation VR 2 has fallen way short of Sony’s expectations.
I reviewed the PlayStation VR 2 back in February and while I was really impressed with the hardware and launch line-up, I can’t say I’m surprised by its underperforming sales.
The first obvious issue is the price. Retailing for £529.99/$549.99, the PlayStation VR 2 is even more expensive than a PS5 console.
I can understand why Sony set such a high price, as the likes of the built-in OLED screen and eye-tracking technology are mighty expensive to produce – the Meta Quest Pro features the latter, but is priced at a whopping £999.99/$999.99 to make up for the cost.
As a result, it’s highly likely that Sony has subsidised the cost of the PlayStation VR 2 in the hope that high sales would generate more money through game sales, of which Sony takes a cut. With the PSVR 2 still proving to be too expensive for most however, you have to wonder whether Sony should have sacrificed the likes of eye tracking in order to make the headset even more affordable.
The timing of the PlayStation VR 2 release has also been unfortunate, with a cost of living crisis ensuring that many people across the globe aren’t in a financial position to be spending huge sums of money on a luxury purchase.
Sony isn’t blameless though, as it’s made a string of odd decisions that will have likely made a significant impact on sales. For example, the PlayStation VR 2 is currently only available to buy online via the PlayStation website – that means you can’t buy it through Amazon, Game or any other online retailer.
I can appreciate that Sony wants to promote its own online shop, as that would maximise profits per sale, but then it can’t be surprised to see that decision affect the quantity of sales. The average person probably doesn’t even know that the online PlayStation store exists, reducing the likelihood of spontaneous purchases when browsing the web.
The decision to launch the PlayStation VR 2 in March is also bizarre. Devices such as the Nintendo Switch have proven that a successful launch in the first quarter of the year is possible but the run-up to Christmas is always going to be a safer bet for a niche product such as a VR headset.
It’s worth pointing out that a lack of major first-party exclusives for the original PlayStation VR headset has likely made an impact too. How can you be confident that the PSVR 2 will get continued game support, or titles of the same calibre as Horizon Call of the Mountain, when Sony failed to do so with its original headset?
I also think Sony was being overly ambitious with that two million target. According to Qualcomm, the Meta Quest 2 shipped 10 million headsets across the globe in its first year. Those are healthy sales figures but it’s important to remember that the Meta Quest 2 was priced at a more affordable £299.99/$299.99 at launch and doesn’t require additional hardware such as a console or high-powered PC. Matching the sales of the Meta Quest 2 was always going to be challenging.
I feel like I’ve been pretty down on the PlayStation VR 2 in this article but I do want to point out that I’m a big fan of the headset. Its 4K OLED screen looks fantastic, the bundled Sense controllers have superb ergonomics and haptic feedback, and launch games such as Horizon Call of the Mountain show incredible levels of immersion unmatched by traditional games.
Above all however, Sony has to realise that the VR market is still in its infancy and that many people continue to hold scepticism about the technology. Sony is never going to win this battle by offering the most impressive specs – as Meta has shown, low price points, wireless convenience and a well-stocked game library are the most important aspects to generate sales and right now, the PlayStation VR 2 does not deliver on those fronts.