For all of the hype surrounding virtual reality, we still don’t know if the technology is a breakout hit or fading fad.
That’s because the biggest players in the VR industry, from Facebook’s Oculus to HTC, have refused to disclose how many headsets they have sold so far. While critics say that VR is too expensive and clunky to use, proponents like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg argue that the tech will one day be as ubiquitous as mobile phones.
But how well is VR selling now? Sony finally broke the silence on VR sales by revealing on Sunday that it has sold 915,000 units of its PlayStation VR headset during the device’s first four months of availability. In an interview with The New York Times, Sony Entertainment CEO Andrew House said sales are on track to surpass the company’s own expectations of 1 million units in six months.
If third-party predictions from SuperData Research are accurate, those sales make Sony the leader in the VR market by a wide margin. A recent study by SuperData said that Oculus has sold only 243,000 of its Rift headsets to date, and that the HTC Vive has sold 420,000 units.
The early success of PlayStation VR, which Sony debuted in October 2016, likely has to do with the fact that it costs $US400 and only requires a PlayStation 4 console. The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, by contrast, require their own desktop PCs that cost at least $US600 to configure.
Overall demand for high-end virtual reality appears to have stagnated in recent months, with Oculus closing nearly half of its demo stations in Best Buys because some stores went days without demos. Now that Sony has disclosed its sales, the pressure is on for its competitors to follow suit.