PlayStation VR2 costs more than the most expensive PS5. I get why, but it’s still too much money.
We are on the cusp of a new era for virtual reality. Meta has just launched its high-end Quest Pro, Sony will release PSVR2 in February, and Apple is rumored to be jumping into the game soon with its own VR/AR headset. I’m finally ready to buy a VR headset, and this is the generation I feel like I should belong to. But now that we’re finally seeing the actual prices for them, I’m in for a major sticker shock.
PSVR2’s $549.99 price is already high, but tackle that with the starting PS5 price of $399.99 and it means the minimum cost to use PSVR2 is $950. The Quest Pro, a standalone VR headset, costs $1,499.99. And don’t expect Apple’s headset to be cheaper; if anything, it looks like it will be even more expensive, with Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports that it could cost more than $2,000.
To be fair, these headsets are packed with cutting edge technology. PSVR2 is a major upgrade over the first PSVR, with features such as an OLED screen, four built-in cameras to track your movements, and vastly improved controllers over the PS3-ea Move wands that the original PSVR relied on. The Quest Pro is much slimmer than the Quest 2, has inward-facing cameras to track your facial movements, and shows you full-color passthrough video. Rumor has it that Apple’s headset even lets you pay with your eyes.
If VR is going to go mainstream, it needs a more mainstream price
But if VR goes mainstream — and Silicon Valley is investing billions to make it happen — companies will have to match all that luxury technology at a price that a normal person would pay. The Quest 2’s original $299 price felt a lot more reasonable. It’s a capable standalone VR headset that you can use for things like games and fitness apps, just like some people already use the $299 Nintendo Switch.
It has also proved to be a hit, with nearly 15 million copies sold in June. according to IDC. That’s particularly impressive, considering Sony just said it’s sold 25 million PS5s, meaning a product in a relatively new category isn’t that far behind the most coveted console in the world. Sure, Meta recently increased the price of the headset by $100, but it’s still an easier pill to swallow than the amount to invest for the next generation.
It’s worth noting that Meta largely positions the Quest Pro as a work-oriented device, not something for the average consumer; for most people, the Quest 2 is the Meta headset they should be buying (at least until the Quest 3 will be launched next year). But if the Quest 2 is good enough for many, do we really need tech companies pushing extremely high-tech and expensive VR devices? They may be ambitious, and I understand they need to push the boundaries to ultimately cut costs, but is the Quest Pro worth more than three times as much as the Quest 2?
But for those who want to try advanced headsets, these companies are asking people to spend a lot of money on what are largely fledgling platforms. Meta continues to take a “build it and they will come” approach to innovation on the platform, and it’s picked up quite a few notable VR studios along the way rather than making its own awesome apps. (Even the team that makes Horizon Worlds doesn’t really use it.) Unlike Nintendo, which makes weird hardware but obvious ways to use it, or Apple, which is known for matching great hardware and great software. Well, usually. We’ll have to see if the iPhone maker has a successful pitch for its VR headset.
That’s probably why I’m most optimistic about the PSVR2, despite its high cost. With the original PSVR, Sony did their best to make great games that made sense, and I suspect it will do the same for PSVR2. My colleague Victoria Song was impressed by Sony’s signature PSVR2 title, Horizon Call of the Mountain, and that’s one built specifically for Sony’s hardware. Sony’s dedication to making video games for a video game-focused VR device probably means the games will be good.
Unfortunately PSVR2 isn’t compatible with the many games for the original PSVR, so you’ll have to start from scratch with your PSVR2 library and hope developers keep making games for the hardware. Buying it at launch is putting a big bet on the future of the platform.
For weeks I’ve mentally prepared for the worst after seeing the dazzling cost of the PlayStation Edge controller, but I’m still amazed at how much you’ll have to pay for the PSVR2. Based on our practical impressions, it looks like it could be worth the price, so chances are I’ll do my best to pre-order on November 15, even if I wish I didn’t pay that much . At least I already have the PS5.