Monday 5 December 2016

Sony smells success as new VR headset beats rivals on price

Pavel Alpeyev

Published 17/03/2016 | 02:30

Game developer Marc Flury plays Kokoromi's Superhypercube on Sony's PlayStation VR during an event in San Francisco, California.
Game developer Marc Flury plays Kokoromi's Superhypercube on Sony's PlayStation VR during an event in San Francisco, California.
The PSVR virtual reality headset

Sony's valuation has climbed to its highest level since early January after unveiling a virtual-reality headset priced significantly below rival devices, fueling investor optimism about the Japanese company's foray into next-generation gaming.

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The Playstation VR goes on sale October for $399, the company said Tuesday at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. That's about half the price tag on the $799 HTC Vive, developed by HTC and game publisher Valve. Facebook priced its Oculus Rift at $599. While those headsets may offer higher quality graphics, they also require high-end computers to run. In contrast, Sony's device will be available to the more than 36m people who already own a PlayStation 4.

"It's a really compelling price that aims for mainstream market share and this is key for VR platform success," said Damian Thong, an analyst at Macquarie Group in Tokyo. "Sony probably thinks of PlayStation VR as a broader ecosystem push, something that not only will sell more PS4s, but will also encourage users to upgrade to PS5 in the future."

There'll be more than 50 games running off Sony's system by the end of the year, the Tokyo-based company said. Electronic Arts is making a version of Star Wars Battlefront for the headset, although Sony declined to say whether that game would be among those coming out this year.

Oculus Rift headsets begin shipping to consumers on March 28, marking the beginning of a new commercial era for virtual-reality gaming. Using the headset requires a powerful personal computer that can cost more than $1,000. There're only about 13m computers worldwide that have the required capabilities, according to Nvidia, the largest maker of computer-graphics chips.

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