The Sony PSVR holds tremendous promise for first-gen VR. We were duly impressed when we spent time with it at the Immersed Conference, and the integration of the PSVR HMD and PS4 is a master stroke because it means PS4 owners already have a VR-ready system, and Sony accessorized its HMD with its own existing products (PlayStation Camera, Move controllers). But Sony is stumbling, fumbling, flailing and failing with the official announcement and preorders.
First, at the official announcement at GDC, Sony’s Andrew House announced that PSVR would cost just $399. He did not qualify that statement by noting that the price did not include the needed Camera, nor the Move controllers most people will want. (We went back and listened to our audio recording to be sure.)
That was a truly misleading announcement. As we noted when we updated our original post, the Camera and Move controllers will run you approximately another $150, bringing the total, actual cost of a complete PSVR to about $550. Sony used the media to disseminate its gasp-worthy $399 price tag (gasp-worthy because it fit $200 below the Oculus Rift), and because of the nature of the Internet (people read something once and believe it, and far too many media outlets don’t care to go back and correct mistakes), the “$399 PSVR” myth persists.
Many eager early adopters looked at the fine print and realized that they’d need the Camera and Move controllers, and they quickly snapped them up. Reports circulated that sales of both increased after the PSVR announcement. Of course, some people already had them from previous purchases, although we don’t know how many of the 36 million PS4 owners this applies to.
However, Sony has now announced complete preorder bundles for North America, which open March 22. It’s a great deal: You get the whole schmeer for $500 USD ($700 CAD). That includes the PSVR HMD, the cables, stereo headphones, PlayStation VR demo disc, PlayStation Camera, two Move controllers, and the PlayStation VR Worlds disc.
At $500 (sorry Canucks, you got marked up), the PSVR undercuts both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. So why would Sony fudge the price in the first place? One theory is that the company wanted to gauge feedback, and we were all live guinea pigs. Perhaps it had the $399 number in mind all along for the core bundle and wanted to suss out what people would be willing to pay for the extras. It had the net effect, then, of both scoring some killer headlines and giving Sony valuable feedback about where to mark pricing for the full bundle. And, hey, why not sell some Cameras and controllers, too?
Okay, so you can get this complete bundle, but Sony is also naming a “core” bundle (HMD, cables, headphones, PSVR demo disc) that doesn’t have the camera or controllers. But it hasn’t said much about when or even if that core bundle will be available in North America. A blog post stated:
“If you miss out on this wave of pre-orders, fear not – we’ll have another wave in the summer.”
That’s great, but right below that, the post said that the core PSVR bundle will not be available for preorder. We guess that means the core bundle will be available at some point? On the October launch day, maybe?
So that means if you caught the initial $399 headline blast and snapped up the Camera and Move controllers, you have to preorder the full bundle now and hope that you can return the accessories you just bought, or hope that you can snag a core bundle on launch day before they sell out. (That’s assuming Sony is even going to sell the core bundle at all in North America.)
Also, if you did buy the camera and controllers separately, you almost certainly paid more than the $100 markup for the full bundle.
Oddly, the core bundle is available elsewhere, and those preorders -- in the UK, Australia and the EU -- already opened. (They’re sold out in some regions.)
It’s quite unfortunate that Sony is botching the PSVR launch. It casts a pall on an otherwise exciting release. Even the $500 full bundle destroys Rift and Vive on price. And one of the most amazing achievements Sony has made is in somehow integrating its existing products with this revolutionary new VR technology. Hey, you have a PS4, the PlayStation camera and a couple of Move controllers? All you need is this $399 HMD, and you’re all set for VR. That’s incredible.
But now consumers are confused, and some are upset, and that’s no way to win the VR market.