The $399 price point “only” applies to a small percentage of the PS4 install base.
Yesterday, Sony announced that their VR headset, PlayStation VR will be available worldwide this October. The pricing is on the lower spectrum compared to other VR hardware providers and it possibly cements Sony’s position as a market leader in the VR industry. However, the PS VR package comes up with an eye popping omission, the PlayStation Camera. The company has made it clear in order to experience PlayStation VR you need to own the camera.
Now, there may be some concern among some fans about the lack of a peripheral that is compulsory to make the headset functional. This concern is quite valid. Sony made it clear later yesterday that they have plans for a bundle for those who plan to pick up the VR headset but don’t have the camera and PlayStation move controller. But this still raises the question…why not include the camera in the basic package itself? Is it true that PlayStation VR is actually not $399 as advertised? Sony’s answer to this is simple. They believe that a lot of people already have the camera.
"I wonder how much of a marketing advantage Sony would have lost if they had announced a $449 price point for the complete PlayStation VR experience as opposed to a misleading $399 one where the consumer is forced to buy a bundle or an additional peripheral."
But the big question here is that how many of them actually own the camera? Sony’ haven’t revealed any updated figures about their peripherals so we don’t have any hard numbers. But we can make some educated guesses with the data we have. Back in January of this year, it was revealed that Sony had sold over 36 million consoles, and given the PS4 sales is not slowing down anytime soon, that number has most likely climbed up by another million. During GDC 2014, Sony revealed that they had sold over 6 million PS4s and the PlayStation camera had a 15% adoption rate. This means the camera sold roughly 1 million units almost two years ago. Sony has since sold more than 30 million units of the PlayStation 4.
Now it’s difficult to decipher whether the same adoption rate of 15% for the camera is valid today. It could be less or it could be more. But given how most market trends work it’s most likely the former since there weren’t actually any games developed with the camera in mind. So even if we drop the adoption rate by half i.e. 8% for the last two years, the PlayStation Camera has sold more or less 2.5 million units in that period. Of course this percentage is an assumption but it’s a fair one since we have reduced the factor by 50%. This means we are looking at around 3-4 million PlayStation Cameras out there in the hands of the consumer. Now this is a fairly big market for a mere peripheral but still very small compared to the PS4 install base.
It may make sense for Sony to not bundle the camera with the basic package since it’s likely some of that 3-4 million base will buy a PlayStation VR and technically speaking it makes no sense to offer them an extra peripheral. But keep in mind this install base is a mere percentage of the PS4 and Sony should ideally cater to the majority who don’t have a camera.
"This is essentially saying, “we are launching a new console, but you have to buy the controller separately. If you can’t we will provide an additional bundle”. Given how Sony is pushing PS VR as a platform and not as a mere peripheral, this decision does sound drastically out of place."
This means that for the majority of the install base, you aren’t technically getting the full VR experience for $399. This is essentially saying, “we are launching a new console, but you have to buy the controller separately. If you can’t we will provide an additional bundle”. Given how Sony is pushing PS VR as a platform and not as a mere peripheral, this decision does sound drastically out of place. Ideally Sony should have announced the complete package before the standalone headset unit. From a consumer perspective, the cost price of $399 is clear cut, misleading advertising for those who don’t have the camera.
I wonder how much of a marketing advantage Sony would have lost if they had announced a $449 price point for the complete PlayStation VR experience as opposed to a misleading $399 one where the consumer is forced to buy a bundle or an additional peripheral.
Granted that Sony is making sure that VR gaming becomes mainstream with its lower price initiative and I appreciate them for taking such steps. It will no doubt be a resounding success for the company and nothing is better than the industry progressing ahead. But the way they have announced their SKUs and pricing point is indeed surprising, specially given that they are literally leading from the front this console generation.
Long story short. The PlayStation VR isn’t $399 as advertised, at least for the majority of PlayStation owners.
But what are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.