In September of last year, Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House told Bloomberg that PlayStation VR is being priced like a "new gaming platform", but Sony believes the selling point for its PlayStation 4 virtual reality headset is in its cost. The overall package is planned to come in cheaper than the $599 Oculus Rift or $799 HTC Vive, both of which require a hefty $700-1,000 PC to work. Of course, that lower price also means the headset won't be as powerful.
"If you just talk about the high-end quality, yes, I would admit that Oculus may have better VR," Sony Computer Entertainment senior vice president Masayasu Ito told Polygon. "However, it requires a very expensive and very fast PC. The biggest advantage for Sony is our headset works with PS4. It's more for everyday use, so it has to be easy to use and it has to be affordable. This is not for the person who uses a high-end PC. It's for the mass market."
Ito also admitted that the struggle the PlayStation 3 had at its high $599 launch price, compared to the PlayStation 4's speedy adoption at $399, is informing how Sony is handling PlayStation VR.
"We would not say that PS3 was a failure; however, there are many things we kind of regret," he said. "And we took the things we regretted with PS3 and made PS4 on top of that. So therefore our development of PS4 and VR is in some ways a reaction to when we had a hard time with PS3."
Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida said that the company is taking its time with VR game development. It's focusing on a bunch of smaller experiments, instead of throwing a lot of money at very big AAA VR games.
"It's just the relative progression of any new media," said Yoshida. "When the content side starts investing, you usually start small. And with VR, small games can have a very significant impact, and that's more preferable. I've been saying that [to developers]: 'Don't start to write big design documents. If you do that while you're working on something long-term, the whole industry will learn a lot and you'll discover half of what you set out to do will become obsolete. So focus on finding great experiences, and packaging it to deliver, and keep doing that.'"
As it stands, the average gamer has probably been priced out of VR, leaving the technology to the early adopters. PlayStation VR represents the last hope for some who still want to get in on the ground floor with VR, but don't have the deep pockets to play with Oculus or HTC.
Sony is having a PlayStation VR event on March 15, during the Game Developers Conference (GDC). Hopefully, we'll get a price and release date then.