It’s probably not news for you to hear that the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset has been priced at $599, with an estimated shipping date of June 2016. If that’s the first time you’ve heard the price, I’m sure your eyes are now watering. When Sony announced the PlayStation 3 at $599, it was immediately evident that they had made a mistake. Their competitor, Microsoft, was able to take advantage of that high price-point and managed to give Sony a run for it’s money last generation.
This generation however, Sony made sure they didn’t price their console too high, and their price of $399 was one of the biggest moments of the Electronics Entertainment Expo 2013:
That’s why they are very unlikely to make that mistake again. I’m not saying there’s not a chance, but it’s quite a small possibility considering they already made that mistake once before. The PlayStation VR will most likely be a little late out of the gate, probably around holiday season 2016, with a release date and price announced at E3 2016 this year in June. However, when a price is announced I’d be surprised if it isn’t at least $100 less than the Oculus’ pricing.
But are we getting our hopes too high? Sony has got one major advantage over Oculus, and that is that they’re already in the hardware development game. They know how to make things smaller, cheaper, faster. They make a lot of the components for their products themselves, and outsource where they can get it cheaper, so there’s a good chance that PlayStation VR will be cheaper than we expect.
Sony chose to sell the PlayStation 4 for $100 less than its competitor to become one of the fastest selling consoles of all time, currently selling well over the 30 million mark.
So will Sony repeat this success?
Can they charge a lot less than the Oculus? Below are a few reasons why this could be the case:
- Sony already has an R&D department and has a huge team of hardware developers already, and did not need to hire many new people.
- Sony already has factories to build screens and chips, so there is no need to pay licensing fees.
- Marketing, PR teams and ad campaigns for console launches already exist, and can be reused.
The reason against this:
- Sony don’t want to knock out the competition, the more people in this race the better. Especially at this stage, the VR experience needs to prove itself, and if one company kills the competition early, it could spell disaster for the format.
- Why charge a lot less? You could match the price, or dip below it slightly.
- Stand-alone PlayStation VR console? The PlayStation Vita, and handheld gaming market appears to be dwindling, moving over to smart phones, so perhaps this venture is a separate thing entirely?
Many might argue that you also require a PlayStation 4 at $300+ to be able to use the PlayStation VR, as well as controllers, cameras etc., but the Oculus’ hardware requirements are pretty damn high as well. Both of these systems exist on different platforms, and they can both do well individually, but hopefully Sony doesn’t follow the pricing of Oculus as even $499 is still quite an expense.