Reality check: Playstation's full virtual reality rig will cost you almost $900
Today at the Game Developer's Conference, Sony announced a release window (October 2016) and price point for its virtual reality headset ($399) but did what we in THE BIZ call 'burying the lede': you need more than the barebones headset to get going with Playstation VR, and the price for the complete hardware package you'll need to really get everything out of its range of launch titles is significantly higher.
Let's start with the Playstation 4 itself. If you already have one, great -- if not, PS4 models start at around $349. The headset requires a camera to function -- and that's sold separately, at $60. You'll probably want a couple Playstation Move controllers to make use of VR's motion tracking capabilities, and the list price of those is $49 each, though these days you can usually find them for around $25 a pop. Add in the $399 for the headset, and -- well, let's just do the math right here, shall we?
$ 349.00 (Playstation 4)
$ 399.00 (Playstation VR)
$ 60.00 (Camera)
$ 50.00 (Playstation Move controller x 2)
$ 858.00 (total)
...And that's before tax and shipping, or even buying any of the games promised at launch! While Sony promised GDC attendees there would be around 50 titles available for the hardware in October, it today announced only a handful. Here's the lineup thus far, via VG247:
- Eagle Flight (Ubisoft)
- EVE: Valkyrie (CCP Games)
- Headmaster (Frame Interactive)
- Rez Infinite (Enhance Games)
- Wayward Sky (Uber Entertainment)
- RIGS: Mechanized Combat League (SCE WWS)
- Tumble VR (SCE WWS)
- Until Dawn: Rush of Blood (SCE WWS)
- PlayStation VR Worlds (SCE WWS)
A VR version of Star Wars Battlefront is also coming to Sony's headset, though it doesn't seem clear if it'll be a launch title.
And hey, maybe every one of these will be the best game you ever played, and VR will be everything you ever dreamed it would be! But by focusing on the $399 price point for the basic headset, Sony is downplaying the real cost of its VR system, particularly for prospective customers who might not yet own a Playstation 4.
"Psh," you say, "those people don't matter. They probably don't even read sites like this." And that's exactly the point: remember all the confused grandmas who didn't get that you needed a Genesis to play a Sega CD, or that there's a difference between a regular Wii and a Wii U? Sony's marketing matters to more people than those who just pay attention to esteemed publications like ours.
Granted, the other VR headsets approaching launch aren't any better price-wise -- so one way or another, you'll be shelling out some major cash for a thing that'll make you (or your hapless progeny) look like Eugene from that one scene in Hackers.
...But hey, Eugene was pretty well paid for a guy who came to work on a skateboard, so if that's your schtick maybe you're not too worried about sticker shock. But at least spare a thought for the poor GameStop employees who will have to process all the after-Christmas returns on these things.
Kris Ligman is the News Editor of ZAM. If their father hadn't made that mistake with the Genesis/SegaCD thing, they'd probably have never been exposed to games at all as a kid. Hack the planet with Kris on Twitter @KrisLigman.