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Sony Launches a VR Price War

Sony is launching its PlayStation VR for PS4 this summer.Sony is launching its PlayStation VR for PS4 this summer.
Sony is launching its PlayStation VR for PS4 this summer.Sony

Pre-orders are underway for Sony’s PlayStation VR system and, as was the case with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, units are going fast.

That’s not just because early adopters are scrambling to be the first on the block to own one, though. It’s also thanks to Sony’s (SNE) decision to undercut the competition on price—in two ways.

First, there’s the price of the actual headset. The standalone PlayStation VR unit will run for just $399—$200 less than the Facebook (FB)-owned Oculus Rift. The bundle being offered in today’s pre-order program includes both the headset and controllers (as well as the camera required to use the controllers) and costs $499, which is $300 less than HTC (HTC) is asking for Vive and its similar accessories.

(Stand-alone PlayStation VR headsets will be available for pre-order on March 29.)

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The price is compelling, but the argument for PlayStation VR gets significantly stronger when external factors are included. To use Rift or Vive, you’ll need an especially strong PC, something less than 1% of the market currently owns, according to Nvidia. To use PlayStation VR, you’ll need a PS4—which is already in 36 million homes.

Sony is seemingly making VR the centerpiece of its holiday strategy this year. The system, which will release in October, is expected to have 50 games available between the time it goes on sale and the end of the year. And Sony plans to include six free games with the device from its own internal studios, which show the potential of the system, but really just scratches the surface.

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We’ve had a chance to try several of the games that will launch with or near PlayStation VR (and more will be unveiled at E3 in June). Here are a few of the standouts.

Rez Infinite: This classic music/shooter game is beloved by fans, but the latest incarnation shows it was made for VR. You’ll tilt your head to aim the reticle and fire at targets or to dodge missiles. And before long, you’ll forget you’re wearing a headset at all, as you become deeply immersed in the world of music.

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood: An “on-rails” game that takes control of your character’s motion out of your hands, this horror/action title has you strapped to a mile cart, shooting some very scary ghosts, ghouls and familiar baddies. You’ll get a powerful adrenaline rush as you take aim at fast approaching enemies and suddenly realize you should have reloaded during that last lull.

Rigs: Mechanized Combat League: VR goes multiplayer in this fast-paced combination of mechanized robots and basketball. It’s a shooter. It’s a sports game and it’s, in part, a strategy game that you play with up to five other people.