2016 is the year of VR. The Playstation VR will be released this October with a plethora of software ready for its launch. VR is a technological jump of scale not seen since video games made the jump from 2-D to 3-D, and for that reason it faces what will surely be a difficult climb into the mainstream. While the majority of gamers will tell you how desperately they want innovation in the industry, the sales data will tell you differently. Uncharted 3 sold over six-million units while the innovative-for-the-time Uncharted:Drake’s Fortune failed to break five-million. This trend continues across almost every major franchise. New things simply don’t sell as well as the familiar. Games are expensive, and gamers only have so much money to spend on them, so it makes sense that they would prioritize the games that they recognize as being something that they, as the player, would like.
The Playstation VR will cost $400 which is the same as a PS4 at launch. While it’s very exciting and new, it’s also scary and expensive. Most marketing has the advantage of showing the consumer what they’re getting via a demo of some kind. Demos can often win over even the most skeptical of gamers. There have been plenty of VR gameplay footage, but due to the nature of VR and the simplistic ideas behind the current games built specifically for VR, these demos simply aren’t impressive enough to sway the masses. Although PSVR has been in the public’s eye for the last year, it won’t be until late June that true PSVR demos will be available to the majority of the public.
Sony has a mere four months to get everyone on board the VR hype train before launch. Even if these demos work well enough to convince the participants that VR isn’t a fad, or just a gimmick, it would be even more difficult to convince them that it is worth the $400 price tag ($500 if you don’t already have a PlayStation Camera and Move controller) plus the additional cost of each game, when they can already buy games in the format that they already know and love for much cheaper. Between what is most definitely a marketing nightmare for Sony, and rumors that PSVR will require the PS4 Neo to run at its full capacity, the future of PSVR remains ambiguous, and while we will get a better idea of VR’s selling potential in October, the uncertainty of its future will probably remain until well after its launch.