Sony's PlayStation VR always appeared to be the safest bet for premium virtual reality success in 2016, and the first pricing details firmly support that idea. Sony may have been a little misleading about how much using the device will cost players during their announcement event, but the tech firm is still firmly in the industry driving seat.
If you already own a PS4 console, the PSVR headset will cost £345, $399, €399 and the additional cost of a required PlayStation Camera, sold for roughly £40 brand new. That's still a sub-£400 price point all together, which is a huge win for Sony and comfortably makes PSVR the most affordable premium VR headset.
The other two headsets offering quality virtual reality are the Oculus Rift (£499.00) and HTC Vive (£689.00), which only run on PC and require a hefty PC to run. If bought outright, brand new, such a set up would exceed £1000 in cost, and that's before the cost of the device. Neither headset is really a direct competitor of Sony's anyway.
Sony is essentially marching into a market unopposed. All it needs to do is convince the average gamer that virtual reality really is the future, and its worth the price of a new console to get involved sooner rather than later. Should they do that, the home console market is there for the taking, and they'll have a sizeable advantage over competitors Microsoft - who have no VR headset of their own, and who are already well behind Sony in the console sales race.
This year is when virtual reality arrives in a big way: with the Samsung's renewed focus on the Gear VR following the launch of the S7 and S7 Edge phones (which act as the lower-end device's screen) and the release of the Vive and Rift in late March/early April. The only requirement this year for the VR industry is that these releases, and that of PlayStation VR, are a moderate success. Not even a huge success, just a moderate one.
Moderate success provides a solid foundation on which the VR branch of this business can build as the games and apps get better, word of mouth spreads and the price and barrier to entry lowers over the course of the next few years.
As much as any of these headsets might be perceived as competitors, in reality they're in this together. If one succeeds, it's more likely that the others will as well. The first hurdle is convincing an audience conditioned to think of VR as a vomit-inducing gimmick, that this technology is legit, it works, and it's here to stay.
Sony, with the big-brand appeal of PlayStation, it's huge PS4 install base and the weight of exclusive titles like Rigs, Psychonauts and Star Wars Battlefront, is in the best position to capitalise in these early days of virtual reality. In setting the right price range for the PlayStation VR, the company is one step closer to dominating the market for years to come.