Sony is positioning itself as one of the best ways for developers to reach a massive audience of people ready to spend money on virtual reality.
PlayStation’s VR chief, Dr. Richard Marks, took to the stage at the Vision Summit today in Los Angeles to explain why Sony’s move into virtual reality is worth developers’ time. While Marks spoke after Google and before Oculus VR (maker of the Rift) and Valve (company responsible for the Steam digital-distribution store), he explained that PlayStation 4 has surpassed 36 million consoles sold and that could serve as a stronger launching point into the VR market than what those other companies have. He also proclaimed that every single one of those consumers is “ready for PlayStation VR.”
With analysts predicting that Oculus VR will sell maybe 1 million of its Rift headsets through the first 12 months, Sony is implying that it could do much better than that. This could attract important VR developer support to the PlayStation over the Rift or HTC and Valve’s Vive.
While we still don’t know the price of PlayStation VR or even the HTC Vive, Oculus VR has priced its device at $599. But that is on top of the cost of a high-end PC gaming rig that can run VR software. This is another area where Sony is pointing to an advantage that it has. According to Valve’s Steam hardware survey site, around 5 million people have VR-capable graphics cards today. That’s a whole lot less than the 36 million PS4 owners that Sony is targeting with its VR headset.
Of course, Sony isn’t the only VR company with numbers on its side. Google pointed out at the Vision summit that it has already released 5 million Google cardboard VR headsets. And while Valve and HTC haven’t sold any Vives to consumers yet, it did give one away to every developer at Vision — which is a smart way to get studios to start making games for Steam VR.