If PS VR2 sales are off to a rough start, it's all Sony's fault
This is more of a self-inflicted wound than it is the economy's fault.
Update 2:00 pm 1/31: Sony refutes Bloomberg's report
If you've been paying any attention to current events, you'll know that we're in the midst of some kind of recession. Maybe it's a market correction after years of exponential growth or something else entirely but the reality is that lots of people are out of work right now and the cost of living is absurdly high.
In light of this, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Sony has cut PS VR2 (opens in new tab) production, as reported by Bloomberg (opens in new tab). Sony apparently made the decision after preorder numbers weren't as high as initially hoped for the $550 VR headset.
While $550 is actually a super reasonable price tag for such a cutting-edge device, the PS VR2 still requires a PS5 to power it — a console that will cost consumers an extra $400 if they don't already have one.
To sum up the news, Sony no longer expects the PS VR2 to outsell the PSVR as it once stated (opens in new tab). Now, the company is comfortable with saying it'll sell just a little bit better than the original PSVR system, citing expectations of 1.5 million units sold by March 2024. That's a depressing number considering Meta has surpassed 20 million Quest 2 units sold this past Holiday season, and this whole saga is almost entirely Sony's fault.
Despite the difficult economic times many of us find ourselves in, price isn't really the problem with Sony's strategy this time around. First off, the PS VR2 preorder campaign has been anything but smooth. Sony initially held a lottery system and only directly sold the PS VR2 through its PlayStation Direct website. It later opened preorders up to anyone who wanted to buy one but you can still only order them directly from Sony.
Yes, that's right. You can't preorder the PS VR2 at GameStop, Best Buy, Amazon, Newegg, or anywhere else you would probably normally buy a new console. Sony has artificially gated the PS VR2 hardware through its own website only. Is it any wonder preorder numbers are low?
Whether this was a strategic FUBAR or a greedy play — if you buy from Sony, they don't have to split the cost with a retailer — the end result is the same. Most people likely have no idea they can even preorder a PS VR2 right now.
Second, Sony's advertising and hype campaign for this system has been at an all-time low. It took the company a whopping 2 years to finally reveal the 3-piece PS VR2 system — that's the headset and two controllers packed in the box — along with a very slow reveal of games the company is pumping out.
There has been no State of Play. No big reveal. No monumental show that would get gamers excited for the next generation of VR headsets. Just a few blog posts and some videos silently dropped on the company's YouTube channel, with very small mentions of the system at CES 2022 and 2023 — a show that gamers have, historically, never lined up in droves to tune into.
Sony has also totally dropped the ball with game development and even announcements of games launching with the system. The company's PS VR2 website was incredibly barebones up until about two weeks ago despite the fact that nearly 40 games are launching with the PS VR2.
Developers have come out in droves for the system, garnering support as we've never seen for the launch of a system before. Yet, Sony is still hanging out in the back room, seemingly forgetting that it's launching a major piece of hardware in just three scant weeks.
And how about first-party development? Horizon: Call of the Mountain looks cool but, from what I can tell, all of the trailers make it seem more like a tech demo with a bunch of mini-games rather than a full-fledged Horizon title. Watching hands-on videos will tell you it's more than that but Sony's marketing is, again, the big issue here.
Also, did you know that Gran Turismo 7 has official VR support when the PS VR2 launches? That one feels like it flew well under the radar of most gamers, even if Gran Turismo isn't the powerhouse system seller it was back in the PS1/PS2 days.
No matter which way you look at it, this problem is almost entirely of Sony's own making. If the company genuinely wants VR to be more successful than just a slow money maker for it, things need to change. Sony needs to get as excited about this release as the rest of the VR community is, and it needs to do it fast.
After I published this, Sony publicly stated that Bloomberg's report is false, per Gamesindustry.biz (opens in new tab). No matter who is telling the truth here, the sentiment in this article still stands. Sony can and should do a better job with the PS VR2 and that needs to start with offering units to popular retailers so more customers can preorder in-store.
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