PlayStation VR surpasses 1 million units sold

Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Sony has now sold more than 1 million PlayStation VR headsets, the company announced today. The news follows a reveal back in February that the PSVR had topped 915,000 units sold since its debut last October. It puts PSVR ahead of direct competitors like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift — according to research firm SuperData, the two sold 420,000 and 243,000 units respectively by the end of 2016 — but still well back of Samsung’s Gear VR, which has sold more than 5 million units globally. Shawn Layden, president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment America, admits there’s still plenty of work to be done, especially given the large install base of PS4 owners, which is approaching 60 million. “It’s still just a million units,” he says.

Layden expects sales to pick up this year in large part because of availability. “We’ll have freer supply in the marketplace,” he says of 2017. “We got to a point around Christmas where you would be hard-pressed to find VR anywhere. So we dialed back some of our promotional activity at that time because we didn’t want to be promoting a platform for people to find out they couldn’t get it. I didn’t want to create more unhappy customers.”

Software will be a big focus. When PSVR launched, it was released alongside a surprisingly robust lineup of virtual reality experiences, including well-received titles like Thumper and Rez Infinite. Since then, however, the release schedule has died down significantly, with few notable highlights outside of the VR mode for Resident Evil 7.

PlayStation VR Aim Controller.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Last month, however, saw the release of sci-fi shooter Farpoint and the Aim Controller peripheral, which Layden believes is the start of a “second wave” of games hitting the platform. “When a new console or a new platform launches, there’s a lot of activity driving launch day,” he says. “And then there’s the inevitable lull between that and the next launch of titles. I think we’re seeing that happening now. Farpoint is the lead of that, and we’ll be talking about a number of other titles at E3.” According to Sony, PSVR owners have purchased 5.25 million VR games to date, and play an average of 25 minutes per session.

Outside of games, Sony is also looking to expand the platform with different types of experiences. To that end, Sony Pictures is bringing an upcoming experience based on Breaking Bad to PSVR, which will be helmed by the show’s creator Vince Gilligan. “For PSVR, we came to it from a gaming context,” Layden says. “But we knew at the time when we were developing it that a lot of people will have interest in this.”

One big question that remains is the life cycle of a platform like PSVR. New consoles come out on average around every 5 to 6 years, while smartphones are often refreshed on an annual basis. It’s not clear yet where virtual reality hardware like PSVR fits on that spectrum.

“With VR, it’s a totally brave new world,” says Layden. “We’re still trying to understand exactly what people are going to want to do in that medium. It’s hard to make predictions about it. People will want it to be smaller, lighter, wireless — these are all things we’re looking at from a conventional iteration process. But I don’t presume to be able to tell you what VR is going to look like in the year 2018 or 2019. We’re going to find out together as we go along.”

Comments

It’s a ridiculously expensive hobby.

Pretty mind-blowing stuff and I think we have yet to see its true potential but anyone expecting it to sweep across the earth is going to be disappointed.

The mobile VR stuff is (in my opinion) so far away from what PC-based VR is like that I think it can sour users on what VR truly is like.

Prices will continue to drop and all-in-one, tetherless, inside-out tracking VR will be the thing that brings quality VR to the masses.

I don’t get it. You say it’s expensive and won’t be popular, but then go ahead and say that once the prices drop, it will in fact be popular. So which is it?

I myself definitely think that in a few years the price and quality will be more than enough for anyone interested to buy a headset.

I don’t get it. You say it’s expensive and won’t be popular, but then go ahead and say that once the prices drop, it will in fact be popular.

That’s exactly what I meant. While it’s so expensive it won’t be that popular because most folks will not be willing to pay $400-1500 to get VR. When it is cheaper more people will be willing to buy in.

Oculus agrees. It was originally $800 ($600+$200) for their headset and controllers. It’s now $600 on Amazon today and it includes $100 of Oculus software store credit).

I’m guessing they are losing a ton of dough to sell it for that. They know that even the current price is a big barrier to entry.

Given that I didn’t see a single PS VR on the shelves anywhere here in London until March at the earliest – bearing in mind the supply constraints for months after the Christmas season – I think this is a pretty decent number all told.

Playing Resident Evil VII in virtual reality is something I will never forget!

Hopefully the price shall be a more wallet-friendly one later in the year; $299/€299/£249?

Barely bought mine in March, so yeah. It was completely sold-out even in Russia.

I do think it has something to do with the amount they produced, though. Sony probably didn’t manufacture a whole lot, since it’s better not to have enough than to have more than enough when it comes to experimental new product like this.

Good sales figures, but that masks the fact that It’s not doing as well as hoped for.

Supply constraints in the West were resolved months ago, and it’s been in stock in ample quantities since March. It’s a great seller in Asia, but you can tell from the lackluster sales of software that ardor has cooled both in the US and UK. Marquee title Farpoint seems to have less than 25k lifetime sales in the UK and the new Star Trek PSVR game launched with decidedly tepid sales.

Sony needs to churn out more killer titles for this. Mine’s been gathering dust for ages now. Doesn’t help that it’s a hassle to setup all the time.

I really enjoy mine and dont mind being an early adopter. What bothers me is that Ubisoft seems to be the only major player making games for the PSVR and they are all social games. I enjoy them but see their prices dropping fast than non social games. I wish i could buy a pass to play setup for around 20$ month and get access to all the games. Im already sick of buying games for the PSRV that only last an hour.

Yet, there’s still nothing interesting to play.

Resident Evil 7? Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes? Farpoint? Thumper? Until Dawn? Job Simulator? Eve Valkyrie?

I mean, mine has been collecting dust for a few weeks now, but it’s simply not true – there are interesting games to play, just not enough yet.

$900 smartphones are an expensive proposition too, but eventually they became ubiquitous. If the technology gets compelling enough (and the price point gets just right) I think VR could be just as huge.

As big as smartphones? Hardly. Smartphones are our most important computers, they’re our main means of communication, accessing information, media consumption and are always with us- they’re about as close to a necessity as a computer can be. In 2015 nearly half the world had a smartphone and that number has only grown. VR is solely about media consumption, it isn’t an always present technology and it isn’t a necessary tool for most people. The most VR can aspire to is being as big as television, but even that feels like it’s stretching it.

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