We have also followed the general narrative produced by consumers as well. When the 2012 Kickstarter kicked off the first announcement of the Oculus Rift, people were insatiable for VR. And who can blame them? The escapism was paramount, the technology was innovative, and the entertainment opportunities were seemingly endless.
This came to a screeching halt when consumers were faced with a $800 price tag. Note, this didn’t even account for the roughly $1,700 just to invest in the PC to run VR. (I understand that you can do it for cheaper, but if you are looking for best overall specs in VR, your $800 build just won’t cut it in the long run.) HTC’s Vive did nothing to quell this uproar, positioning itself at a similar price point.
Enter Sony’s PlayStation VR. The $400 headset has been consistently sold out of stores since it’s October release. In an interview with The New York Times, Andrew House, global chief executive of Sony Interactive Entertainment, was proceeded cautiously into the emerging market, unsure of how it would resonate with consumers.
“It’s the classic case in any organization — the guys who are on the front end in sales are getting very excited, very hyped up,” House told the Times. “You have to temper that with other voices inside the company, myself among them, saying let’s just be a little bit careful.”
Sony has reportedly moved 915,000 headsets during the 4-month stretch, pacing ahead of their internal goal to sell one million headsets by mid-April. This eclipses the data from research firm SuperData Research that estimates Oculus Rift and HTC Vive selling 243,000 and 420,000 respectively last year.
“You literally have people lining up outside stores when they know stock is being replenished,” House commented on consumers in Japan, a market known for their both their allegiance to Sony and gaming alike.
VR has been through a lot lately as well. Best Buy has closed a handful of Oculus demos due to slow sales and reports called VR the “biggest loser” after anemic Black Friday sales did nothing to bolster their numbers.
But the bottom line is a lot easier to digest. VR is here to stay, and it is a bonafide emerging market. The problem is that consumers (and manufacturers) are running out of patience, and we can’t blame them. The lack of content, accessibility, price transparency, and tangible value have left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. On top of that, the idea that we are at the beginning of a long road of innovation and technical advancement is unfamiliar territory considering many gadgets improvements are largely built on familiar tech (e.g. TV, audio, phones.)
VR is the Atari 2600. VR is the Ford Model T. VR is the Motorola 8000X. Okay, maybe it’s not that dramatic, but Sony is ready to set an aggressive pace for an otherwise tepid market.