Virtual reality sales have been a mysterious thing as of late. Last year around this time the media and analysts were singing praises to the high heavens about the glory of VR. These days it's more of a footnote in most stories... except for the fact that Sony has revealed that the PlayStation VR is actually selling better than expected.
According to the New York Times, Sony Interactive Entertainment global chief executive Andrew House revealed that the PlayStation VR has actually sold above estimates and that from October, 2016 to February 19th, 2017 they've moved an impressive 915,000 SKUs. That's a sell-through rate and not just a shipped number.
Now 915,000 over the course of four months doesn't sound like an impressive number, but keep in mind that the PlayStation VR is as expensive as the PS4 and it's basically an add-on accessory. That's not to mention that there aren't many games for it; and outside of Batman: Arkham VR and Resident Evil 7 there aren't many recognizable brand names for the system either, so a lot of people are buying it obviously for the novelty of experiencing VR.
Even with a shallow software offering and high price, they're actually ahead of their target numbers. According to Andrew House, they were expecting to move 1 million SKUs of the PlayStation VR by April 2017. So they're almost two months ahead of sales estimates.
In fact, according to Andrew House, he was one of the voices of caution within Sony to scale back on manufacturing to reduce costs given that he was very reserved about the potential sales margins of the PlayStation VR. House and others kind of butted heads over how many units they should produce, but it turns out that more would have been better.
Sony's headset has been sold out constantly in Japan and it's been on backorder with many retailers in North America, especially the PlayStation VR bundle that includes the PlayStation Camera, dual PlayStation Move controllers, along with the headset and external processing unit.
According to House, Japan is actually the bigger market for the PlayStation VR over North America, as he states that there are people literally lining up outside of retailers in the region in order to get their hands on the device.
It's a bit surprising given that you don't hear much about the PlayStation VR. As mentioned at the top of the article, the VR fad has somewhat faded from view as far as hype is concerned. High price points and certain controversies like the ZeniMax and Oculus fallout have somewhat tarred VR as an expensive, inaccessible, floundering niche for technophiles and enthusiast gamers.
However, as the PlayStation VR continues to saturate the market, hopefully, we'll begin to see more properties pop up that really take advantage of the hardware. Resident Evil 7 was definitely a step in the right direction and shows a lot of potential for the headset.
The New York Times compared the sales stats between the PlayStation VR with the first three months of the iPhone, which launched back in 2007, noting that it only sold 1.4 million units. So within a similar price range and obviously targeting the upper end of the market, there's still a lot of strong potential and market growth for Sony's VR headset.