Sony’s PlayStation VR More Popular Than Expected? We’ll See

Posted on February 27, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Games with 23 Comments

Sony's PlayStation VR More Popular Than Expected? We'll See

Yes, this mess is apparently very successful

A new report claims that the PlayStation VR is more popular than Sony expected. Sure. But the company may want to hold off on the Champagne.

In an interview with The New York Times, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Andrew House disclosed for the first time that sales of PlayStation VR have beat internal estimates. The firm expected to sell 1 million units by April 2017, or after six months of sales. But it has already sold 915,000 of the headsets as of February 19, or after about four months.

“You literally have people lining up outside stores [in Japan] when they know stock is being replenished,” Mr. House breathlessly told the staid NYT, which latched right onto the story. (Just like it does about any health-related bullshit, as it turns out. This is a huge pet peeve of mine.)

“The sales figure is a positive sign for virtual reality and probably establishes Sony as the leader in the premium side of the market — headsets connected to PCs and game consoles that provide more immersive experiences than are currently possible through inexpensive headsets that use smartphones for visuals,” the publication noted. “In contrast, during its first three months on the market in 2007, Apple sold nearly 1.4 million iPhones; a feat now considered among the most successful technology products of all time.”

Wait, what?!

No. Stop. These things are not and will never be comparable. Ever, ever, ever.

But you know what is comparable? Right. Microsoft Kinect. Which, when it was released, was the fastest-selling consumer electronics device in history, according to the Guinness Book of Worlds Records. And we all know how amazingly well that product has done, with sustained sales and huge usage growth over many years.

Oh, right. That never happened. In fact, Kinect was such a turd that it killed Xbox One sales so badly that this console may never recover.

See, that’s the thing with fads. They crash and burn.

And that Kinect? It was way more successful than Sony PlayStation VR will ever be, and Kinect ultimately bombed: Microsoft sold 8 million units in the first 60 days. That rate is over 16 times faster than the sales rate of PS VR so far.

So yes, you can queue up the “sad trumpet sound.”

Look, I’m not saying that PlayStation VR hasn’t established itself as a viable VR option. But I am saying that this is a niche product in a big field of niche products. And you know what? It probably always will be.

And I’m also saying that, for a publication that is advertising “truth,” the NYT needs to wake up. This story is ridiculous, as was that iPhone comparison.

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Comments (24)

24 responses to “Sony’s PlayStation VR More Popular Than Expected? We’ll See”

  1. Avatar

    TonyB

    The iPhone comparison was ridiculous but it does appear that the Playstation VR is beating the other VR systems. Sony is pleased and sold more than it expected. How is this not a good story for them?

  2. Avatar

    nbplopes

    So it's not a positive sign I guess. If not what would it be?

    Granted long term success is never guaranteed but it's an excellent start for Sony and a good push for VR over all.

  3. Avatar

    Ugur

    The PSVR sales can be seen as ok by themselves, dunno if i'd call them leading in highend VR sales since a) the PSVR is not highend at all compared to Rift and Vive, rather low end then actually, it sits gently in the middle in capabilities/fidelity between gear vr/daydream type stuff and higher end pc vr stuff and b) the sales numbers of rift and vive are not announced so any statement on whether something else sells worse or better is speculation.


    That all said, come on Paul, comparing the PSVR to Kinect makes about as much sense as comparing it to the iPhone, like all of those comparisons make no sense because it is a completely different device category =)


    I agree with you again though in your main point that VR (but also AR) will largely be niche devices in the next few years as it takes time for good hardware and content to get into mass market price ranges and even then it isn't for everyone.


    Btw: i also don't agree with your view at all that the Kinect is to blame for the lower xbox one sales, couldn't be further away from the main reasons to me.

    The main reasons were like:

    -It was sold too expensive initially (yes, one could argue that was due to kinect pack in, but hey, in past generations they sold the consoles as loss leader, they should have done so this time, too and sold it with kinect added in for the price of a ps4, then it would have been way more attractive)


    -MS made one HUGE marketing mistake after the other with the xbox one. That was one of the things that had the biggest impact


    -The Xbox One is obviously considerably weaker than the PS4 in several important hardware specs. This was very important since the ps4 and xbox one both aim heavily at "hardcore" gamers wanting to play the highest end "AAA" cross platform and exclusive games and when for the longest time those cross platform ones almost always looked and ran worse on the xbox one, yeah, of course that had a big impact.

    Again, they didn't want to do as much loss leading model as in the previous gen so they made a too small hardware spec jump and the price for that is paid ever since. You repeatedly say that lower framerate/resolution on xbox one for many games is not important or not noticeable to you, to many it seems to be important.



    This can of course get totally reversed with the Scorpio, as that seems way more powerful than the ps4 pro, let's see =)


    But yeah, the bottomline is that MS made many huge mistakes there in the early years of the Xbox One so to blame the Kinect for it's worse sales and even the worse sales today, years after it was unbundled, is kinda really off.


    (That said, they of course also made many mistakes regarding the kinect itself, like cutting down the first version much before release so then lots of things couldn't be controlled well, then also enforcing not being allowed to use it together with joypads in games hence that cutting down massively in possible use cases, or not having many good use cases for it on xbox one, or also the huge marketing fiasco where that pd leaked in which they pretty blatantly talked about using the kinect to spy on users for advertising tracking purposes etc)


    I have a kinect (2) on my pc and use it for some client projects and it's a fine device for what it is (even magical when used nicely), shame MS handled it and the xbox one so poorly for a while and also never pushed the kinect on Windows at all really.

  4. Avatar

    Shyam Krishnan

    PS VR cost as much as console. So comparing it with kinect is not fair.

  5. Avatar

    glenn8878

    Kinect was a failure due to not having anything to use it with. The software was woefully underutilized and incomplete. The PC version never went beyond a developers kit and cannot be used to control Windows and not consumer friendly in how it should be marketed. Kinect is not designed to be used with Skype, Hello, and many other Windows technologies. Thus, the potential is stillborn.

    • Avatar

      Waethorn

      In reply to glenn8878:

      You could rephrase it like this:


      "HoloLens is a failure due to not having anything to use it with. The software is woefully underutilized and incomplete. The current version will never get beyond a developers kit....and not consumer friendly in how it should be marketed."

  6. Avatar

    Narg

    I'd expect to see 900K of these gather dust in the next 12 months (or go for pennies on ebay...)  The other 15K will get overused by those that enjoy a good puke worthy game :)

  7. Avatar

    Chris_Kez

    I wonder how many of those sales are in Japan, and how many people are lining up at stores in other place around the globe.

  8. Avatar

    Chris_Kez

    Minor correction: it's sad trombone, not sad trumpet.

  9. Avatar

    Tony Barrett

    For a VR headset that probably offers the best bang for the buck out of ALL the current VR solutions, Sony have a right to be chuffed. It was a risk, but it seems to be holding so far. Time will ultimately tell. Let's be honest, VR is ultimately about gamers, and Sony have by far the best selling console this generation. Maybe it's a good match.


    I assume you're talking about the XB360 Kinect offering selling 8m in 60 days but it was way, way cheaper, but yeah, it eventually bombed, yet MS proceeded with the same system on the XB1, and yeah, that bombed too. Once bitten...

    • Avatar

      Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to Tony Barrett:

      Kinect was in response to Wii, which also eventually turned into a dust collector. Kinect is a good analogy here not because of price, but because, like VR, it was the tech de jour. It appears that the market realized that it wasn't that much fun playing poorly-responsive video games as a form of exercise, so how many people will want to slap a visor over their face to play games? That doesn't even take into account motion sickness, which I believe was something 3D TV ran into. I haven't tried VR, but that is a legitimate concern for me based on previous experience with visually immersive content.

      • Avatar

        Ugur

        In reply to Darmok N Jalad: If you try well made content on a nicely specked pc using the Vive or Rift, then chances are very low you will get nauseous unless you generally have a high tendency for it.
        Of course some content is made to make you nauseous to some degree, like roller coaster rides, but lots of other content isn't =)
        You can also try some non game/non movie things like Google Earth VR or Tilt Brush at your own pace.
        But yeah, in general, the main factors for getting nauseous in VR for most people are:
        -low framerate (not as much the case on good specked pc with good content)
        -high latency between head/body movement and it adapting to it (again not much the case with good specked pc)
        -camera movement not fitting to your body movement (this is more nauseating for some than for others, but if it is for you, you can try content which has 1:1 body movement or only moves forwards+in the direction you look)


        Regarding the Wii turning into a dust collector, sure it did and so do most other devices after a while, but the Wii did have 3+ years of extremely strong sales, it was bound to go lower again at some point.
        The main issue with it was that most of the content garnered mostly to waggle controls and the motion controllers weren't refined enough to allow for actually nicer much more precise controls (unlike vive controllers for example which are precise to the mm)
        Then, as they attracted so many non gamers, a year or two later, they noticed that most of those actually don't buy any more games besides the one they got with the package..so yeah...problem =)

        The Kinect could have been used for so much more, but MS really never had the balls to go through with something more in depth making use of it, ultimately forcing it to become and stay a novelty.

        With the PSVR, yeah, not sure how it will go over time, because that's often how it goes with console peripherals, a few years later the hardware maker often looses interest in it and then it doesn't get many games anymore and since it doesn't get much other software either, that's often it then.

        I'm curious to see how Sony will handle it in the long run, it would be cool if they support it longer.

        With the Vive the situation is quite different because it started on the PC first and by a company who cares most about stuff on the PC and an audience and developer base which pushes that.

        Maybe try some really good VR things on the Vive or Rift, i think you'll see it is way beyond gimmicks like 3d glasses =)

        Yes, one looks like a dork when wearing them right now in their current iteration, but once one gets over that, there's some great stuff to try there.


  10. Avatar

    Waethorn

    "am saying that this is a niche product in a big field of niche products. And you know what? It probably always will be."


    Then why do you prop up the HoloLens? If VR is a fad, then HoloLens is a niche of a fad, meaning it won't sell in any meaningful quantity. Like Windows Phones.

    • Avatar

      JudaZuk

      In reply to Waethorn: - Well of course HoloLens is a niche product, and as far as I can tell Microsoft also knows this.
      Hololens is a really useful tool, and what it can do already is impressive, but it is only useful for very limited areas. In the commercial sector, Some small parts of medial jobs, Architect studios, Construction in general, showroom stores where you can look at how your new kitchen might look and so on ..

      For home use, there is no point to Hololens, just like VR. It is not a consumer product.


    • Avatar

      Chris_Kez

      In reply to Waethorn:

      In what way does Paul "prop up the HoloLens"? And not that I think HoloLens will ever be a huge market success, but I do think it is possible that AR will be less of a niche than VR.

      • Avatar

        Waethorn

        In reply to Chris_Kez:

        You haven't been paying attention to Paul's coverage.


        People don't want to bolt something to their head just to see things that don't exist in the real world - they can get that on the MSM. People are already skeptical about this with phones, as is evident with the lack of users on Pokemon Go, and the complete failure of Google Glass, not to mention that the PS Vita had AR well before both of those, and it failed.


  11. Avatar

    Kvbex

    Paul, try to keep objectivity in mind. You do know it's uncertain whether PlayStation VR may or could be "a thing" or it will indeed be a "fad" and will be gone next year. We will know the answer in a couple of months/years. I personally do not believe in VR at all, so my opinion is leaning towards yours. I always liked your relatively calm reaction to news items, but this is looking like an overreaction. You do not overreact when it comes to Microsoft, try to do the same with other companies.

  12. Avatar

    Bats

    Lol... How can Paul equate the Sony VR to the Kinect? The Kinect was a $90 add on. People on welfare could afford a Kinect.

  13. Avatar

    2ilent8cho

    I got the Kinnect on launch day, and then it gathered dust after about 1 month, it was such a let down. I remember when it was showed off at E3 and you had the Fable game and drawing pictures and showing them to a character in game and it talking about what you had drawn . My expectations were taken so high by this, then they plummeted when i got it.


    Playstation VR on the other hand has wowed me way more than Kinnect ever did, i got it in October and i still regularly use it so almost 5 months on, its not gathering dust and i am thirsty for more!


    I still do non VR gaming regularly, just this weekend i got out my 8 Xbox 360s and System Linked with my mates, remember that little thing System Link Microsoft ? It made your Xbox and 360 better than Playstation to me, since you are not pushing developers to use it this generation you have lost an Xbox Fan to Playstation where i don't have to suffer that ugly UI either.

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