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VR Remains For the Few

This has been a bad week for VR. Confirmation, as if confirmation was needed, that it is not for the mainstream came in the announcement of the new PlayStation VR’s price. And that’s not to mention Meta’s problems.

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A few weeks ago I wrote about VR and it’s problem breaking through to larger crowds. How quickly that article was proven correct.

PlayStation fans will be expected to pay $599.99 / €649.99 / £569.99 / ¥79,980 if they want to get in on the ground floor of PSVR2. That’s more than my predicted $550 upper limit, but it includes a code for Horizon Call of the Mountain, a controller and stereo headphones.

That’s not including the price of the PlayStation 5. So tot that up too.

VR is a luxury product, designed for the few whales happy enough to shell out big money on them. And that’s fine – there’s nothing wrong with luxury products.

But treating it as that devalues what VR could actually accomplish. Prices are going up. During a cost of living crisis.

When PSVR2 inevitably sells moderately – and that’s optimistic – maybe Sony will quietly shelve plans for further hardware, or even software. We all remember the Vita. We’ll never know, and it probably won’t matter to most of us anyway.

But more likely it’ll just sit on shelves and most of us will forget it exists, outside of the five minute trailer reel that hits every E3 season.

Forgetting VR

The fact is that VR is really cool. And it has a whole host of uses too.

But when the manufacturers are trying to turn it into a premium product – something only a select few biggest spenders can get into – then that’s all you’ll attract.

Maybe we can all do the jokey thing and get a second job because we want it so much. How did that work out for the PS3?

Or these kids of products can remain for the most dedicated few, and they’ll rave about it, undoubtedly enjoy it, and then move on to the next big thing when the support begins to dissipate.

This is a good time to talk about the Metaverse. I’m sure I’ve not been alone in finding my Facebook feed flooded with adverts for a virtual office, where it’s just like sitting at a desk, only you’re in a VR headset.

I mean, the question of why you need to wear VR to sit at a desk if you own a desk aside, it was always going to be a hard sell. And who knows? In the future, maybe it’ll take off.

But the unusual nature of it, the obsessive delivery, the awkwardness of the whole thing – Metaverse is failing to get into the public consciousness. It’s just too bizarre.

And really that’s where VR is as a whole. It’s cool. One day it’ll take off, although it’s been around in its current form for a decade now and we’re still not even nearly where we were promised to be.

But it’s yet to prove to the majority that it deserves to exist as a premium, seperate entity to whatever form of gaming they happen to enjoy. That’s the biggest hurdle, and clearly most manufacturers have zero interest in trying to jump.

 

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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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