The PlayStation VR2 will retail at £530 in the United Kingdom. The console itself now costs (with inflation increase) £480 (£390 for the digital edition), and together they will tip you over £1,000 (when you include the cost of a game).
That's a lot of money. Does the value proposition make sense here, given that many families are cutting back spending at the moment due to inflation? Can Sony physically sell enough PSVR2 units to achieve a sizeable install base that justifies game developers and publishers investing in the platform longterm?
Curiosity or necessity?
I personally see virtual reality itself as more of a curiosity than a necessity. I grew up playing games in the '90s, and spent my early life tripping over leads and blowing into cartridges until my face was tomato red. Controllers and televisions were my friends - VR headsets lived squarely in the realm of science fiction.
In more recent years, I've gained some experience with virtual reality. I've used the Oculus Quest 2 and the original PlayStation VR. Both experiences were enjoyable enough, but I didn't encounter any stand-out "must have" VR software. Job Simulator was fun, Beat Saber was energetic, and the Resident Evil experience was simply terrifying. But none of these were enough.
I have periodically searched for a VR setup that I could justify in terms of the expense. But I've come to realise that, at least for now, there aren't enough compelling experiences that will get me to part with £570. Virtual reality is fun, sure, but £570 fun? I don't know about that.
The thing that ultimately defines the value of any platform is, of course, the games. A platform will be more likely to succeed if it can differentiate itself through a great software catalog. Look at Nintendo, for example; they are experts at creating unique must-have games for each of their platforms. Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Pokémon, and Animal Crossing - these are just a few of their stellar franchises that draw you in.
Sure, games from these franchises are released sporadically; just often enough to leave you feeling fulfilled but still wanting more. I might be a big Sony fan, but I'll always have space on my shelves for Nintendo as a second console.
Back to PSVR2. While the hardware functionality on offer seems impressive, the big question is whether or not the game library will be great. Here are a few already-announced games. Are they likely enough to justify the cost of the hardware, though?
Horizon: Call of the Mountain
I have yet to play a Horizon game. I actually received a copy of Horizon: Forbidden West with my PlayStation 5, but I've yet to boot it up. This is a five-star Sony IP and one that I'm curious to play, but Call of the Mountain promises less than ten hours of overall playtime - again, I feel it isn't enough. This feels, to me, more like a decent DLC rather than a big tentpole standalone game.
And while the experience looks like fun, I don't get the sense that it's groundbreaking - that it represents the kind of leap forward in VR gaming that would warrant purchasing a new VR setup.
Resident Evil Village
Resident Evil Village is a great game. The VR mode will likely be terrific, too. It looks to expand upon the mode that was established with Resident Evil 7 (and perhaps it'll be less buggy too).
It is being released for free and so it'll be well worth the money. But I've already played through Village. Do I want to play through the game again in VR? Maybe. I'm sure it'll be terrifying as you stumble around the snowy village while being hunted by the werewolf-like creatures. But going to my original point about VR, it feels like a curiosity and not a necessity (your point of view might be different if you haven't played Village at all yet, of course).
Resident Evil 4
This is my favourite game of all time. It's a game I've purchased across multiple consoles and it would be a draw. But bear in mind that a VR version of the original game is already available today on the Oculus Quest 2.
There is, of course, a full remake coming. And there will apparently be some VR content there, but at the moment it is unclear what that means. My assumption is that Sony would want to give the VR version of Resident Evil Village some breathing room to generate some sales before introducing a shiny new VR mode with the Resident Evil 4 remake later in the year.
Since I don't yet know what the VR content will actually look like for the remake - and bearing in mind I can get the full VR game elsewhere - I'm not inclined to invest in a PSVR2 based on this game.
The other games...
This list is not exhaustive but Star Wars: Tales From the Galaxy's Edge, The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners 2, No Man's Sky, and The Dark Pictures: Switchback are games of note. They're all great IPs, but again, many of them already exist elsewhere. They feel like updates rather than bold new unique experiences.
The exception here is The Dark Pictures: Switchback. It looks to be the most intriguing offering in terms of originality (though it's still on rails, much like the earlier VR games). The idea that the headset will actually track your blinking and adjust enemy movements accordingly sounds fun - but is it enough?
PSVR2 obviously doesn't exist in a vacuum. The Meta Quest 2 is the closest competitor for PlayStation VR and it's less than £500. Sure, it's older, but it has an established library of games and of course it's completely wireless and does not require connection to a console or another piece of hardware; it works straight out of the box. The visual fidelity of its games might not match PSVR2, but the ability to play anywhere, anytime, without cables is a major selling point and differentiator for this product.
There are other VR contenders, of course, that sell at a premium price point (such as the HTC Vive Pro 2 and the Valve Index). When compared to these platforms, the PSVR2 certainly offers value for money. But a high end market dominated by these devices and an entry level market dominated by the Meta Quest 2 could squeeze out the PSVR2. Which customer is Sony really targeting?
If you're at the high end as a consumer, and you have enough money to get the very best-possible setup, would you actually choose PSVR2 over HTC or Valve?
I currently own a SteamDeck, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch. I spend, on average, three hours a week on each of them. It's difficult to see how I could add a fourth device to this mix, especially given that I'd need nearly £600 for both the headset and a game.
Of course, the PSVR2 isn't even out yet. It's still early days. I'll keep an eye on the situation (and maybe my mind will change if I see a pay rise or bonus in future, and the price becomes less of an issue for me). Right now, inflation is a major challenge for everyone; even the PlayStation 5 console itself has just become more expensive. So it seems unlikely that we'll see price cuts of special offers anytime soon.
How do you feel about the PSVR2? Are you planning to get one on launch? Is the already-announced lineup worth the price of entry for you? Let me know in the comments.
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