With these glasses, Sony fuels the dream of virtual reality
Breathing heavily, Agent 47 puts on the sniper rifle, on the roofs of a huge skyscraper in Dubai, aims and pulls the trigger. Hit it, job done. Feeling like a contract killer and simply eliminating unloved targets-this is made possible these days by the action game “Hitman 3”, a video game series about a super-killer bred in the laboratory.
And its missions are playing out more intensively than ever before. For the first time, the creators have given the game a VR mode. This stands for “virtual reality” and brings video players with appropriate accessories completely into foreign worlds. As a rule, glasses with built-in screens are necessary for this. Scenes then take place right in front of your own eyes and gamers see nothing else but the digital world.
There is only one problem: the VR breakthrough simply does not want to succeed, although it has been prophesied for years. Because the corresponding equipment costs, in addition to a game console or a highly equipped gaming PC, usually several hundred euros. According to the poor sales figures, the supply of games is also meager – the market is too small to justify the development of expensive games.
This is also known at Sony, the group behind the Playstation 5 – actually. You might get the impression that VR is considered a little-loved stepchild there. There have hardly been any big VR games for the Playstation in recent years and on the latest Sony console, the company’s own “PSVR”headset only runs with an adapter and a suitable game version for the predecessor console. Accordingly, the industry was sure: There will be no new VR news from the Group for the time being.
But in an interview with WELT, Playstation boss Jim Ryan now confirms: “Today we announce a new VR system for the Playstation 5.”In doing so, the company will” work with the latest technologies, ” Ryan promised. One has learned from the work on the predecessor headset, explained the manager – ” be it that we are moving to a much easier connection with just one cable or that we are further lowering the requirements for game developers.“
The first copies will be sent to developers shortly. According to Ryan, the Group sees virtual reality as a strategically important growth area. Accordingly, it should not be a simple upgrade of old hardware; on demand, Ryan described the product as “next-generation VR”.
Planned doubling of sales by 2032
The step is at least partly surprising. While the PlayStation 4, which was launched in 2013, has sold around 115 million units so far, Sony has only been able to sell around five million VR headsets since the launch in 2016. That’s only about four percent in terms of the number of consoles sold.
Looking at the retail price of 399 euros, this is still a good result, but Playstation VR does not play a real role in Sony’s marketing measures. None of the announced PS5 exclusives rely on VR so far.
After all, experts continue to assume that VR has what it takes to be a product for the masses. While 3.2 billion US dollars were still implemented in the consumer market in 2020, it is already expected to be 6.2 billion in 2032. In recent years, revenues in Germany have also increased significantly, but were still in the low three-digit million range.
According to a study by management consultancy PwC, the VR market is expected to grow by an average of 19 percent per year until 2023. Thus, the revenues generated in this country would be 280 million euros in two years. The second largest potential, after the video industry, the study already approves of the gaming industry.
It is precisely in this time horizon that Playstation BOSS Jim Ryan should also think. The start of sales for the new glasses is still unclear, but on demand Ryan denies at least media reports that the headset should not appear until 2023 at the earliest. A previous sales launch would therefore be possible; an appointment has never been officially announced. However, the so-called” dev kits”, prototypes of the device that game developers use to create content, would be sent out” very soon”.
However, Sony may still have another problem: Because so far the Japanese company has not yet managed to supply all its fans with new PlayStation 5 consoles. “We understand the frustration of our fans very much. We are grateful for the high demand and I would have liked that every prospective customer would have received a console,“ explains Ryan. Among other things, supply problems in the pandemic were decisive for the difficulties, for example in the semiconductor market.
Success even in times of crisis
A problem that automakers or mobile phone manufacturers are currently struggling with. “We are working very hard to expand production so that we can provide everyone with a console who would like a Playstation 5,” Ryan promised. The aim is to supply the European markets with more consoles as quickly as possible.
Nevertheless, the market launch of the new game console is likely to go down in the books of the Group as the most successful product launch: “By the end of December, we have sold 4.5 million PS5 consoles,” says Ryan. The launch was therefore more successful than the Playstation 4 seven years ago. 25 Percent of new console buyers had not previously owned a predecessor console, 50 percent of which were new members of the so-called Playstation Network, the group’s paid online service.
These figures actually speak to the great success of the Sony console, even in pandemic times. Finally, with prices starting at 399 euros, the devices are a high-priced investment and to tap new buyers for the consoles is considered difficult in the gaming market due to its now already wide fan base.
Until every prospect is taken care of, Sony tries to smooth the waves a bit and sends its own “Play At Home”initiative into the second round. On the one hand, the group donates its customers free games to entertain the community at home and on the other hand invests in a fund to get small game forges through the crisis in case of financial difficulties.
After the launch of the project last spring, the new edition will now be more comprehensive, Ryan promised to WELT. “We will start by giving away the game ‘Ratchet & Clank’, released for Playstation 4 in 2016.“
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