On January 8th, Sony announced that around 130 titles will be released for the PlayStation VR (virtual reality) system during 2018. More specifically, the company has stated that it is expecting the development of VR games on its system to increase by 80% over the course of this year. This would mean that the games available on the system, which currently numbers around 150, would increase to around 280 by year’s end. This number represents about twice as many games as were available on the system a year ago.
Sony announced the news in a statement (translated by Siliconera) made to Nikkei, Japan’s most well-known financial newspaper. The company believes that the sales are due in large part to the fact that it recently decided to reduce the price of the system, which is doubly convenient when considering that the price was already fairly low to begin with. The October price reduction brought the cost of the system down to less than three hundred dollars USD.
The PlayStation VR has sold around two million units globally since it was first released about a year ago; experts state that its audience potential is about 70.6 million. It also benefited from an important increase in sales during the Christmas period, in particular thanks to Black Friday, Christmas, and Boxing Day sales and promotions.
There are numerous reasons why the as-yet expensive technology has been so successful. In particular, the PSVR was the cheapest VR headset available on the market in 2016 when compared to its more expensive peers, including the Vive and the Oculus Rift. As a matter of fact, Techradar reports that—while lower-end VR headsets may have sold more copies—the PSVR is the high-end VR headset which has sold the most units, which is largely due to its price tag.
Also, the system launched for the PS4—a system already owned by a big chunk of gamers everywhere—so they didn’t have to empty their wallets purchasing a new system. All of this was aided and abetted by the exclusive games which were launched last year. So far, it seems that the system is well on its way to bypassing the company’s expectations.
But even so, despite its high sales, it must be noted that the system is trending for less than was originally estimated when it was first released in October 2016. Estimates vary. For example, it was expected to sell 1.6 million copies in the first few months alone, comparing to the 2 million units sold over 12 months (IHS), 8 million copies in its first two years on the market (Macquarie Securities), or 4 million sales during the first year (industry analyst Jesse Schell). The games that have been released so far, however, rank somewhere in the ballpark of 12.2 million units, when numbers sold in both virtual and brick and mortar stores are aggregated.
On Sony’s end, however, their own estimates have been more moderate. This is due to the fact that those titles currently projected for 2018 are not as those of previous years, which included new entries into well-established franchises: Resident Evil VII, Gran Turismo Sport, a Star Trek game, and virtual-reality experiences for Doom and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. In contrast, 2018’s planned line-up features new intellectual property, including Bravo Team and The Inpatient (Supermassive Games) and Moss (Polyarc).
New IPs of note include Megaton Rainfall (you play as a superhero who fights against an invasion of morphing aliens), No Heroes Allowed! (an RTS where you train monsters to fight for you), Obduction (a game from the creators of Myst in which you visit an alien planet filled with anachronistic Earth technology), and Golem (in which you play as a one of the titular stone creatures, attempting to learn about the origins of his family).
Such games have been advertised via channels such as Paris Games Week, E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo), and PSX. During these trade shows, Sony has showed off the new system and the game capabilities that it possesses.
Games available for purchase right now fall into a variety of genres—including complete games, shorter experience, and standalone indie titles—and we can expect the new games to belong to similar categories. We can also expect indie developers to create countless small projects, experiences, and standalone games, which have yet to be announced, but which are no doubt full of potential.
A number of peripherals by third-party companies will also improve the PlayStation VR experience. Of particular note is the Onyx Wireless Controller, developed by Hori, an accessories maker; these are officially licensed, and also include a mini-pad peripheral, specifically developed for child gamers. When explaining these new products, Hori stated that they wanted to make the compatible with the “the community’s diverse play-style,” and that its goal was to “help introduce new people to the great games and entertainment available on PS4”.
Games aside, Sony is optimistic about the future of the system for non-gaming applications. It explains that soon a planetarium application will be released; this will enable viewers to watch films in a full 360-degree environment based upon the night sky. We can expect that other, related non-game content—perhaps even including 360-degree films, maybe in the style of IMAX movies or Disney wildlife documentaries—will be released for the system during the new year.
Sony has also announced a wireless adapter, which is compatible with both versions of the PSVR. Due to be released in autumn, the adapter offers players the promise the convenience of a smooth, streamlined VR experience—one that doesn’t require using a full plethora of tangled cables when gaming with virtual reality.
Despite all the success the PSVR will inevitably have over the years, right now, it still has a long way to go before it reaches 70 million units sold (as much as the PS4 has sold since it was first released in February of 2014). Still, the numbers—and the game trailers—are looking great so far, as are the new, non-game experiences Sony and other companies are offering to fans. We have a lot to expect from the console in the future; 2018, it would seem, is only just the beginning.