With Sony’s VR headset Morpheus launching in the first half of 2016, the company is getting ready to market the device to its 20 million global PlayStation 4 players.
John Koller, vice president of marketing at Sony Computer Entertainment America, said at this year’s E3 that the big advantage Sony has is that PlayStation 4 can process VR without requiring additional purchases by the consumer. This may give Sony Morpheus an edge over PC-based VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, because according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, only 20 percent of all PCs on the market currently have the specs to run a VR headset.
Consumers had a chance to see what games the Morpheus will offer at E3 2015. Sony had nearly 20 virtual reality games playable at its E3 booth in Los Angeles, including Sony London Studio’s London Heist, Rebellion’s Battlezone, Guerrilla Cambridge’s Rigs, Kokoromi’s Super Hyper Cube, Frame Interactive’s Headmaster, and CCP Games’ EVE Valkryie.
Tim Merel, managing director for Digi-Capital, believes Sony (SNE) has multiple VR advantages, including the largest console user base, an integrated, standardized PS4/Morpheus hardware/software platform for consistent performance, and an established AAA developer community with a track record of delivery.
Sony isn’t talking price or a specific release date for Morpheus yet, but Michael Pachter, analyst at Wedbush Securities, estimates Morpheus will retail for $500 and sell 2 million units in its first year, and 1 to 2 million additional Morpheus headsets annually thereafter.
According to Koller, VR is going to be a considerable market in the video game industry.
“Morpheus is the best place to play for gamers,” Koller says. “We think games will play a significant role, if not a majority role, but there is going to be opportunity for non-game applications to play as well, whether it’s business to business or it’s for gamers.” Sony is currently working with development studios in creating both gaming and non-gaming applications for Morpheus.
Koller believes one such non-gaming opportunity is with Sony Pictures, which owns movie and television rights to a large number of properties. According to Koller, Sony Pictures could use VR to add to stories, for example the TV series Powers.
“There’s been a lot of discussion of what happened to Zora or Calista before they arrived on the scene, so exploring that in other avenues, whether it’s through digital marketing or VR, is interesting to look at,” says Koller. “VR is going to be a great component to the broader way that we tell the story about all that we offer.”