Sony has for the first time disclosed sales numbers for its Playstation VR headsets, telling the New York Times that 915,000 of the units have sold since its October release. That puts Sony on track to beat its goal to sell one million within six months.
That unexpected success has led to shortages of Playstation VR in stores, particularly in Japan.
The numbers are at least a partial validation of VR’s marketplace potential, at a moment when years’ worth of hype, and the question of actual consumer interest, have been somewhat overshadowed by controversy.
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Earlier this month, Sony competitor Oculus Rift was hit with a $500 million judgment for violating a nondisclosure agreement with Zenimax, though a jury decided Oculus had not stolen trade secrets. There was also controversy last fall surrounding Oculus founder Palmer Luckey’s political involvements.
Meanwhile, Magic Leap, developers of so-called “augmented reality” gear that could be considered a VR competitor, have been accused of misleading marketing tactics. Some question whether they can fulfill their promises and bring a product to market.
In the meantime, Oculus and the third major player in VR, HTC’s Vive, have performed modestly. Analysts put sales at 500,000 for the Vive and 400,000 for Oculus’ Rift headset. An Oculus representative has said that “VR is going to start small and grow into something huge.”
The big difference between Playstation VR and Oculus and Vive sales can be most obviously attributed to two linked factors: platform and price. Playstation VR is a $500 accessory to the sub-$300 Playstation 4. The Vive and Rift are $800 and $600, respectively, and require a high-performance PC that costs an absolute minimum of $500. And reviewers have said all the platforms provide a fairly comparable experience.
As Playstation’s new numbers show, that kind of financial math is hard to overcome.