Sony blew away the competition on Tuesday when it revealed key details about the PlayStation VR, suddenly pushing the virtual reality kit to the top of gamers' wishlists everywhere. Budget-conscious players will be able to buy Sony's futuristic kit and a PS4 for under $750, and the company has snapped up big names to develop games for the new system, including an exclusive, "Star Wars Battlefront."
With a games-ready system and 50 titles on the way, Sony just upset the apple cart in VR, particularly for gamers.
Rival companies will be hard-pressed to convince customers to spend more elsewhere. When it launches in October, Sony's $399 virtual reality kit will undercut both the HTC Vive and Facebook's Oculus Rift, high-profile entires that were set to revolutionize the industry. The kit also puts Microsoft to shame, with the Xbox One still without any firm VR plans.
Sony’s kit requires a PlayStation 4, which is available for $349. Both the PS4 and VR can be had for less than $750, though. The HTC Vive and Oculus Rift need a powerful PC to deliver the experience. Oculus recommends a range of PCs, which start at $949, $200 more than the complete experience Sony’s offering. The Vive and Rift are priced at $799 and $599 respectively, pushing their complete packages well north of $1,500.
Sony is also strong on content, with 230 developers working on games for the kit. The company also bagged a top exclusive: "Star Wars Battlefront," only on PlayStation VR. Both the Vive and Rift have a large number of PC games that already offer support, but if Sony continues to court developers for exclusives, they may not hold the advantage for long.
Where is Microsoft in all this? The Xbox maker has shown some interest in augmented reality with its HoloLens, but that starts at $3,000 for a developer kit, and as yet there is no word on a consumer release. Three games will ship with the kit, to show developers what the HoloLens can do, but there’s been little word of any big-budget titles.
Microsoft has also struck a deal with Oculus to bundle in an Xbox One controller with the Rift. Even that may be short-lived: Oculus has plans for a pair of controllers it calls the Touch, which uses motion sensing to let players directly interact with the virtual world using their hands. If Microsoft wants to match Sony’s offering, it needs to act fast.