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Sony: We're 'Not Entirely Comfortable' With PlayStation VR's Sales Success

Eric Chiu
PlayStation VR unit will sell over 2 million units by the end of the year, according to market research company SuperData Research.

The PlayStation VR leads the home virtual reality market, but an unlikely source isn’t entirely comfortable about its lead: Sony. In an interview with Reuters, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Andrew House said he thinks the virtual reality market needs to be more competitive.

“I‘m not entirely comfortable being the market leader in VR by such a margin that seems to be happening right now,” House said. “With such a brand new category, you want a variety of platforms all doing well to create that rising tide and create the audience.”

On the numbers alone, Sony is beating its competitors by a significant margin. According to IDC, Sony is only behind Samsung in worldwide headset sales. As of the second quarter of 2017, the PlayStation VR moved 519,400 units alongside a 24.4 percent total market share.

Excluding Samsung’s mobile Gear VR headset, Sony’s margin increases even more when you put it head-to-head with comparable higher-powered headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. For the same quarter, Oculus moved 246,900 units for an 11.6 total market share, while HTC dropped 94,500 headsets for a shrinking 4.4 percent share. Both headsets were initially priced for enthusiast gamers, but HTC and Oculus dropped their headsets’ prices to $599 and $499 respectively in a bid to make them more affordable for gamers.

While the PlayStation VR isn’t necessarily as powerful as the Rift or Vive — both headsets can be paired with and take advantage of higher-end gaming PC hardware — Sony’s success with the headset has come from ease of use and price. The headset only needs a PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 4 Pro in order to work and only costs $349. Thanks in part to Sony’s sizable PlayStation 4 install base, the headset has seen steady support from gamers and developers. Since its launch last fall, the PlayStation VR has already broken the one million mark in sales and it’s also gotten exclusives in games like Resident Evil 7 and Farpoint .

In the past, Sony has readily admitted that the Playstation VR is an early exploration into VR for the company. In June, Sony executive Jim Ryan said PlayStation VR’s use in Resident Evil 7 was “a big surprise” to the company.

House’s remarks also come amid significant growing pains for the virtual reality field. While mobile VR headsets like the Samsung Gear VR have been strong drivers for adoption rates, developers are still figuring ways to transition the technology beyond its early adopters. Upcoming headsets from Google and Microsoft have made updates like wireless environmental awareness a big part of their featureset. Plus, VR also faces additional competition from augmented reality applications, which don’t require a headset or additional hardware. With its ARKit developer toolset, augmented reality has been a particular focus for Apple and the company has made it a central part of its recent iOS 11 update.

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