A Sony executive comments on the position Playstation VR 2 holds for Sony. His words are in line with expectations.
The business publication Barron’s talked to Eric Lempel about Playstation. Lempel heads marketing, sales and operations for Sony Interactive Entertainment.
When asked about the sales outlook for Playstation 5 and Playstation VR 2, Lempel replied that Sony expects “one of the strongest seasons in our history in terms of console sales”. Regarding Playstation VR 2, Lempel said the following
“The VR category is important to us. It’s a category that can help us with innovation. It’s never going to be the only way people play games, but I’m happy that we’re in it. There are great experiences to be had and consumers really like it. But it’s a nascent business for us. It’s something that we want to be a part of but it’s not the core proposition we have this season. PlayStation 5 is the core.”
Slow start for Playstation VR 2
The Playstation VR 2 was released in February, and Sony says it sold 600,000 units in just six weeks. That’s slightly more than the first Playstation VR managed in the same period, so it’s not a stellar result. Sony hasn’t released sales figures since then.
The PlayStation Store now lists more than a hundred VR games for the system, but exclusive first- or second-party titles are scarce, something Sony has been criticized for by fans and the press. On top of that, there have been some half-baked and disappointing releases in recent months.
Right now, it’s the small and independent VR studios that have to provide quality content to keep Sony’s VR platform alive. The problem is that these games, as good as they may be, are hardly noticed by people outside the VR niche.
Sony keeps the platform simmering
Aside from Sony’s lack of software support, the PlayStation VR 2’s biggest liability is still the high price of the accessory. My expectation was that Sony would lower the price a bit more before the holiday season and announce one or two high-profile titles. Lempel’s comments don’t inspire much hope, but we’ll have to wait and see.
I’ve long believed that Sony was being realistic about the market performance of the Playstation VR 2, expecting slow and organic growth rather than a rapid breakthrough. Factors such as price, form factor, and the cable are still holding the Playstation VR 2 back, so even a big investment in the software offering wouldn’t make much of a difference. The Sony executive’s comments support this assessment. Virtual reality is a nascent business for the Japanese company. And the technology has to prove itself first, even without Sony’s overwhelming support.
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