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Sony already the market leader in virtual reality

New report suggests successful launch of PlayStation VR and PS4 install base puts platform holder ahead of Oculus and Vive

PlayStation is already dominating the virtual reality market despite being a late entrant compared to pioneering PC and mobile-based providers.

Research carried out by 01consulting, reported by VentureBeat, claims Sony accounts for 30% of the VR space, well ahead of Facebook-owned Oculus at 11% and HTC at 6%. The latter's Vive partner Valve ranks even lower at 2%. Google and Samsung account for 8% and 7% respectively.

The report is based on "evaluated and estimated product sales for over 30 companies and 40 products globally through revenues and units sold/used for each of the vendors". Sony's market leading position is attributed to the comparatively low price and entry point of PlayStation VR, as well as the multi-million installed base of PS4 consoles that can reach potential virtual reality consumers.

Despite the prominence of Oculus Rift as the pioneer for the current wave of VR and the low-end offering of Cardboard, Facebook and Google rank lower due to their lower userbases and, in the case of Oculus, high entry price. However, the report notes that both companies as still generating hundreds of millions of dollars around the VR devices.

Google has since launched new VR platform Daydream and its View headset over the last few months, so the firm is no doubt hoping to increase its share of the market. Combined, the efforts of Sony, Facebook, Google and Samsung represent more than half of the virtual reality space.

The other half is comprised of lesser known or lower profile VR headsets, engine providers such as Unity, Epic Games and Crytek, and a handful of developers, with companies in this last group accounting for 1% of the market each.

It will come as no surprise to see CCP Games among them given the popularity of Eve Valkyrie, long since established as the poster child for virtual reality games, as well as Ubisoft, which after some initial reluctance has perhaps the strongest VR line-up of any traditional games publisher. It's perhaps more surprising to see Codemasters, Insomniac Games and Studio Wildcard taking healthy shares of the market given their later entries into it.

Microsoft ranks as one of the lowest, also with a 1% market share, but this is likely to change next year given the firm's recent announcement that it will be releasing a series of low-price VR headsets with the help of partner manufacturers such as Dell, HP, Acer and Asus.

The report notes that content providers such as games developers are likely to grow their market shares in the coming years "since that's where the bigger value resides", adding that "it is normal to see hardware makers emerge first".

"Now that there are enough headsets out the in users' hands, it's time to accelerate generation of content," the report reads. "The result of this effort will be more VR games and applications in the coming months and years."

2016 was built up by many as a pivotal year for virtual reality, largely thanks to the long-awaited commercial release of headsets such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. However, there seems to have been a souring of the industry's optimism in recent weeks, with figureheads dismissing the tech as "too expendable" in its current form and lowering sales forecasts.

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