The PS VR 2 is set to launch in less than a month but a new report suggests that soft pre-order numbers for the PS5 virtual-reality headset have forced Sony to revise its initial sales forecast and lower its production order.
Bloomberg claims that Sony has halved its planned shipments of the PS VR 2 in the first quarter, dropping the number of units expected to ship down to one million. The trade reports that Sony had initially planned to have two million units ready for launch, but it’s important to note that the Japanese tech giant has not officially confirmed these figures so they should be taken with a grain of salt.
This report also suggests that Sony has recently contacted supply partners to break the news that component orders will be reduced in the coming months. Furthermore, it’s indicated that Sony now plans to ship roughly 1.5 million units over the PS5 accessories first 12 months on sale.
For comparison, the original PS VR headset took around eight months to surpass the one million sold mark after its October 2016 debut. So even with these revised sales numbers, the PS VR 2 is still projected to outpace its predecessor.
While the figures presented by Bloomberg are technically unverified, there is solid evidence that PS VR 2 pre-orders have been somewhat sluggish. For starters, unlike the PS5, which sold out at all major retailers in mere minutes, the PS VR 2 continues to be available to reserve even just weeks before its launch date.
The headset is currently being sold exclusively on Sony-owned retailer PlayStation Direct. When pre-orders first went live last September an invitation was required but this condition was soon removed and the headset can now be ordered by any shopper willing to cough up the eye-watering $549 launch price.
Such a high cost of entry is being widely tipped as the primary reason that the PS VR 2 doesn’t seem to be generating as much interest as expected. And there’s no doubt that a PS5 accessory that costs more than the console itself is a tough sell, especially in a time of economic upheaval for many.
A somewhat lackluster launch lineup of games has also been suggested as a potential reason for pre-orders not selling out. Although, Sony is putting some first-party muscle behind the headset with Horizon Call of the Mountain due on launch day alongside a couple of dozen third-party offerings.
The PS VR 2 is set to release on Wednesday, February 22 for $549 / £529 / AU$879. If you're already sold on the virtual reality unit, we have a complete guide on how to pre-order PS VR 2 to help secure yours in time for launch.
Underwhelming PS VR 2 pre-orders could hint at a longevity problem
On the surface, the abundant supply of PS VR 2 may seem a good thing. After all, nobody wants to endure a similar situation to the PS5 restock nightmare that persisted for the vast majority of the console’s first two years on the market. However, this apparent softer-than-expected initial interest could be a grim forewarning that the headset isn’t cutting out for the long term.
Without a suitable high attachment rate, Sony’s motivation to fund further first-party PS VR 2 games could diminish. This would create a nasty cycle where the headset struggles for relevancy due to lack of compelling software, but lacks compelling software due to its struggle for relevancy. And that could leave early adopters with a very expensive but also very limited accessory that may only boast a couple of worthwhile titles.
Of course, this is all very much the worst-case scenario, and it’s clear that Sony is committed to the PS VR 2 in at least the medium term. In recent years, Sony has acquired multiple development studios with strong VR credentials including Firesprite the creator of The Persistence and PS VR 1 tech demo The Playroom. Acquisitions like this and the launch of a second-generation headset certainly indicate that Sony continues to have big ambitions in the virtual reality space.
Due to its high cost of entry, the PS VR 2 is also currently positioning itself as a luxury purchase that only the most dedicated PlayStation fans will buy at launch. Within this context, it was never going to be an instant sell-out item coveted by the mainstream.
Once it’s been on the market for a while, and perhaps experienced its first price drop, interest may ramp up as more consumers are given suitable incentives to purchase. Plus, if the headset is well received by early adopters positive word of mouth will spread which could also convince some gamers currently on the fence to hop on board.
Right now it appears the PS VR 2 isn’t going to immediately shatter sales records or become the next impossible-to-find-in-stock tech item, but that certainly doesn’t mean it's destined to flop. Sony will be viewing the launch as just the start of a multi-year campaign to champion virtual reality to PlayStation players, and as with any new hardware launch, it's a marathon, not a sprint.