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Oculus: PlayStation VR addresses "a separate market"

"They're bringing virtual reality to a different group of people who I don't think were ever really a part of our market anyway"

Oculus VR's Palmer Luckey believes that the company's Rift headset addresses "a separate market" to what is perceived as a direct rival: Sony's PlayStation VR.

Speaking to the International Business Times, Luckey offered two explanations that contribute to his position. The first is the most obvious: the existence of around 35 million people who own a PlayStation 4.

"There's not many people who already own a PS4 who don't own a gaming PC who are going to go out and make that roughly $1,500 all-in investment in the Rift," he said. "It really is a separate market. They're bringing virtual reality to a different group of people who I don't think were ever really a part of our market anyway."

It's an intriguing statement, because it could be argued that anyone interested in VR should be considered part of the Rift's addressable market. Instead, Luckey seems to delineate the market based on who might perceive the Oculus Rift as worth buying, rather than their enthusiasm for the technology in general.

The second is rooted in what Luckey sees as a qualitative difference between what the two headsets offer. Later in the interview he said, "It's also worth noting that their headset isn't quite as high-end as ours - it's still, I think, a good headset - and the PlayStation 4 is not nearly as powerful as our recommended spec for a PC." So the Rift is a better headset offering a better VR experience, but not to an extent that will justify the price to most people who don't already own a suitable PC, and a very small proportion of those who do own a PlayStation 4.

Despite this, Oculus was insistent on maintaining the Rift's high quality, even though it meant launching at a price of almost $600. According to Luckey, it was a matter of accepting that its goals did not line up with the largest possible audience for a consumer VR device.

"Lowering the price of the Rift by reducing the quality could've been done - $500 or $400 - but it would've reduced the all-in investment for the average person from $1,500 to $1,300 maybe," he said. "It's not a huge change, and that wouldn't have been enough to make the target market leap from enthusiast gamers to mainstream just yet."

The question, then, is whether Sony is in a position to become the most mainstream of the non-mobile VR headsets. With such a large installed-base for the PS4 a competitive price for the 'not quite as high-end' PlayStation VR could be powerful, and the PS4's current $350 price-point opens up the possibility of attractive bundle offers - potentially not a great deal more than the price of the Oculus Rift alone.

Oculus Rift starts shipping in March. PlayStation VR does not have a fixed release date.

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Latest comments (16)

Jordan Lund Columnist 5 years ago
I'd argue that Rift and PlaystationVR are very much in the same market. The market that's different is, say, Google Cardboard. That's not the same thing at all.

Is there an opportunity for the same game to be on Oculus Rift and Playstation VR? Absolutely there is. If that's the case then they are in the same market.
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James Berg Games User Researcher 5 years ago
Yeah, the context helps there, but still strange. Anyone developing for PSVR is likely wanting to sell on Rift and Vive as well - the market is going to be tiny enough as it is, anyone hoping to make games needs to address all of it.

I've got the Samsung Gear VR, and -that- is a different market due to vastly differing quality. Some experiences will be shared I'm sure, but not a lot.
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Reza Ghavami Marketing Analyst, NVIDIA5 years ago
EVE: Valkyrie will be playable on both HMDs.
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Show all comments (16)
Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 5 years ago
The problem is that Sony makes their headset PS4 exclusive, and I certainly would not buy such an 'expensive' accesoire which only works with one closed platform, especially after what they did with the move (it only has a handfull of excellent games that support it).. If they also release official PC support it would certainly sell a lot more units than PS4 only, but I think that won't happen (even though development is done on a PC), so we're stuck to community support, and looking at the dualshocks and the move, yes it works, but not as good as on the PS consoles itself..
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Lucija Pilic Journalist 5 years ago
Oculus and Vive are having a "PC Master Race" mantra while comparing themselves with PS VR. But IMHO, games catalog is much bigger and better on Sony's HMD. Considering gamers are the first target audience for VR headset and there are 35+ million PS4 consoles shipped (in comparison to how many Oculus-ready PCs?), I'd say PS VR will be a fierce competitor.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 5 years ago
"It really is a separate market.
This reminds me of the way Nintendo has often(well since last generation) said the same thing when journalist try comparing their systems to their competitors Microsoft and Sony's systems respectively. And I agree with James, this is already a very small market to begin with so game makers will want their games on each VR system.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 5 years ago
Can anyone confirm that there WON'T be regular or "timed" PC exclusives for Oculus or the Vive? As neither will work with the PS4 and console exclusive PS4 VR games won't work on PC, I'd bet a penny that all three companies (Valve, Oculus, Sony) might be banking on content the other VR sets won't have (in the case of PC, for a short span before they get out to all who want those titles). It may sound nuts (because I am), but I'd say that sort of stuff is "expected" by some gamers who are now betting on Vive or Oculus to compete with each other (even though the end result will be the same types of games on both platforms).
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It is fascinating to see Oculus VR attempt to position itself in the emergence of the VR game scene through hyperbole – a tweeting figurehead making comments about his company’s product, the attempt to manage the message seems to have hit the extreme point. From attacking the “muddy water”, denying the Virtual Boy and now attempting to dismiss the power of the PS4; Oculus’ co-Founder seems to be lashing out in all directions.

Maybe it’s time we move from hyperbole and rhetoric-based speculation, and see some ‘practical-reality’ in the shape of actual hardware from the Facebook division (doing what they claim it can do)? Now we find out that the CV1 is both more expensive and delayed, compared on previous Oculus pontification – a slice of actual delivery would go a long way to prove to us the validity of this latest phase of VR?
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Julian Williams Founder, WIZDISH Ltd.5 years ago
In my view they are very much in competition with Sony, especially if Sony drop a bomb-shell and make the PSVR PC-compatible (it'll be hacked within 24 hours to be anyway if they don't). What if their in-line processing box means you don't need to upgrade your PC?
One reason Sony wouldn't is so they never become associated with adult entertainment.
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Sandy Lobban Founder, Noise Me Up5 years ago
Sony are historically programmed to protect. They will get good traction in the early stages, but the company will have to allow their device to work with PC's and Mac's if it wants to capitalise on the non gaming VR world. I can't see that happening, but maybe. That's when others will get traction, and with the power of facebook behind oculus, you would be foolish to consider the first battle as the war being won. Sony has no platform that can deal with facebook in terms of connecting people, and with facebook looking to turn messaging into the platform where installs are made and products are bought, they will win the war. If you can currently order an Uber, then you can easily buy a game. It just might not be with the oculus that they gain the traction, but maybe with a more advanced gear VR, and other lightweight devices that are utilised by facebook messenger to deliver the VR experiences.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 5 years ago
If Morpheus is subsidized by the games, then it will be PS4 exclusive as far as Sony is concerned. If Morpheus is not subsidized and Sony feels like being bullish, then Morpheus will be as much a PC attachment as anything; considering the PS4's connector ports are as vanilla as they come on any PC.

Sony has a history of being the company who wants to make the best TVs to watch stuff on. VR could become the new big thing of how to watch stuff. If Sony do not think beyond their Playstation brand on this one, they are not thinking at all.
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Julian Williams Founder, WIZDISH Ltd.5 years ago
They could come out with higher tech specs than everyone has been led to believe and another surprise would be to announce the price and that they're available in retail outlets the same day. Watching telly on an HMD might be no more silly than walking around in public wearing headphones.
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Aleksi Ranta Category Management Project Manager 5 years ago
To Sony's advantage, sony has an established retail network in place, distribution network in place, manufacturing in place and crucially a platform in place.
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Michael Thaddeus Games Designer 5 years ago
I *was* going to get the Rift, but after seeing the pre-order price, (plus I'd have to upgrade my PC too), I can wait on getting VR for my PS4, instead.

They are in the same market, and trying to convince themselves otherwise is self-deluding BS.
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Rafa Ferrer Localisation Manager, Red Comet Media5 years ago
If he means that, after the CV1 price reveal, their market are now hardcore gaming über-spenders, then yes, he may be right... They have handed over all the other markets to Sony.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 5 years ago
Stupid question, but when has a dev kit cost LESS than a retail SKU when it comes to game consoles or PC hardware? I can't think of one example, but perhaps I need to be educated here...
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