Sony Is Just 3 Tweaks Away From Making the PSVR 2 a Huge Success
Sony has all the tools it needs to convince people that the PSVR 2 is the killer headset we know it is.
It turns out people aren’t as hot on a PlayStation VR headset as they are on the PS5. Sony is only expecting to sell around 270,000 units of the PSVR 2 by the end of March, a fair bit fewer than the two million the company was planning on pushing out in the VR headset’s launch window, Bloomberg reports.
Less than stellar sales likely aren’t a total surprise for the manufacturer. Reports in January indicated Sony had halved its ambitious 2 million unit goal — something it later denied in a statement to GamesIndustry.Biz. The PSVR 2 is still early in its life and, importantly, offers a great VR experience. Calling it a lemon is premature. Still, with sales possibly slowing, some changes could be made to how the headset is sold and positioned that could get the PSVR 2 the attention it deserves.
One thing that could help? More games. As my colleague Raymond Wong identified previously, the PlayStation VR 2 has an exclusives problem. A majority of the launch games for Sony’s new headset appeared on the Quest first or the original PSVR. Only two launch games, Horizon Call of the Mountain and Grand Tourismo 7, were even associated with first-party PlayStation studios.
The jewel in the PlayStation crown is its recognizable game series and series-leading characters. Sony has successfully trained PlayStation owners to show up for blockbuster releases starring Kratos, Ellie, and Alloy, and frequently, across multiple entries and versions. Just think about how many times Sony has resold The Last of Us at this point, with little pushback from fans. To not put more PlayStation series on the PSVR 2, or to even tease upcoming first-party titles after the headset was released, seems like a missed opportunity to convert PlayStation faithful to the cause. People will be more interested in the PSVR 2 if their favorite characters are there, plain and simple.
Games will draw eyes, but Sony could also do a better job of keeping the PSVR 2 top of mind. It’s not clear how aware the casual observer of the video game industry is that the PSVR 2 is even available. Boot up your PS5 during the first few days after release, and you’d be greeted with advertisements for the headset in the main menu and in the PlayStation Store. Look now, and the main evidence there even is a PSVR 2 is a way to sort for VR games in the store.
I don’t know how much of the PlayStation Store is algorithmically arranged or shows me things it thinks I’ll buy, but it seems strange to me not to at least keep some flashy reference to a new piece of hardware in the place already dedicated to selling things.
The biggest and most obvious way to generate interest in the PSVR 2 is by lowering its price. For a standalone headset, the $549.99 PSVR 2 is pricier than some, but by no means unreasonable. As a device that needs to connect to another $499.99 PlayStation 5 console to work, it’s a much harder sell. Unfortunately, no VR game is worth spending over $1,000 on hardware to play on its own.
There are reasons to buy a PSVR 2 and more reasons to come, but to make the headset the winner it is, something is going to have to budge. It’s not clear if Sony views the PSVR 2 as some future foothold in “the metaverse” — they’ve suggested they’re interested — or just a great complement to the fast-selling PS5, but either pitch only works if people are playing and there are worthwhile experiences to try.