Sony has plans on working with third-party studios to deliver up to 130 PlayStation VR games throughout 2018. It sounds like a major feat, but compared to the thousands of games that arrive on Steam each year, it’s a paltry figure.
The news comes courtesy of an interview that SIE had with Nikkei.
However, the PlayStation VR has only shifted 2 million SKUs since its release in late 2016. It managed to move a million units by June of 2017, as reported by PlayStation Lifestyle. By December, 2017 the PSVR had then moved on to shift 2 million SKUs, but Variety reported that VR HMD sales had practically stalled by that point, despite the PS4 install base eclipsing 70 million.
The Variety report points out the exact problems with VR that have been echoed on this site numerous times: consumers feel VR headsets are too expensive, they fear nausea and a majority of consumers believe there’s no good content available for the headsets.
Worse yet is that apparently market analysts vastly overestimated the importance of VR, with GamesIndustry.biz reporting that the PlayStation VR is actually tracking well below industry estimates.
Macquarie Securities estimated that the PSVR would hit 8 million SKUs within two years of its release. That would mean that it has up until October, 2018 to shift another 6 million units. Given the headset’s current sluggish pace, I tend to doubt that it will shift 6 million in 10 months. That breaks down to 600,000 units it would have to move every single month heading into October.
Analyst Jesse Schell also estimated that the PSVR would hit 4 million units sold through within 12 months of release. He was off by 2 million units and two months.
But it’s not just the PSVR that’s tracking lower than estimated… all VR hardware is selling less than the projected estimates.
The reality is that VR just isn’t that impressive. Cumbersome setups, wired HMDs, lack of intuitive controls, locomotion issues, no compelling software, and lots of hardware limitations have made VR a rather niche novelty as opposed to something mainstream. It’s sort of having the complete opposite effect of how the general consumer is approaching hardware like the Nintendo Switch, which has become the fastest selling console in U.S., history.
HTC and Valve are hoping to remedy their situation on the market with an HTC Vive Prop due out in the third quarter of 2018 with improved tracking and a wireless adapter, but they were skittish on providing a price, which is still the biggest barrier to entry for most casual consumers.
We’ll see if Sony’s PSVR software line-up will be able to get around the hardware limitations by offering gamers actually fun and immersive games, but if they haven’t been able to do so since 2016 I tend to doubt that “compelling” software will ever come down the pipeline.