If you've just seen the price of the PS VR2, you’re probably wincing: at $549 / £529 / AU$879.95, Sony's next-generation virtual reality headset for the PS5 has an eye-watering price tag — in fact, it’s more expensive than the console needed to power it.
So you might want to declare that the pricing is bullsh*t, but that might be going too far. Sure, it may seem crazy that what’s arguably a fancy accessory for the PS5 should be more expensive than the console itself. Yet Sony may be able to justify the price here… before you rush to the comments, let me explain.
Serious next-gen VR
Whatever way you slice it, most VR headsets are expensive. Our pick for the best VR headset, the Meta Quest 2 has actually increased in price to $399 in the U.S. £399 in the U.K and AU$629 over in Australia. From there, higher-end headsets, like the Meta Quest Pro get even more pricey at $1,499/£1,499/AU$2,449, with the likes of the Valve Index still needing a powerful PC to connect to.
As for the Quest 2, while the all-in-one VR headset is very impressive and can connect to PCs, it lacks the cutting edge tech the PS VR2 is set to have. That's to say nothing of the clout of Sony’s PlayStation development studios can bring to the table, along with the potential integration and optimization between the headset and the PS5.
For example, the Quest 2 sports an LCD display, while the PS VR2 will get an OLED display, which should deliver superior contrast and colors, as well as inky blacks. And the PS VR 2 gets a 120Hz refresh rate out of the box. It's fairly likely that Sony first-party developers like Guerrilla Games — which is working on the VR-centric Horizon Call of the Mountain — will be able to tap into such a high refresh rate at launch.
Eye-tracking is also a feature of the PS VR2, which is a high-end way to track user movements and improve the visual experience. Such tech isn’t cheap, which is why you won't find it in the Quest 2, and further justifies the PS VR 2’s price tag.
The PS VR2 is also set to get advanced haptics added to its VR controllers, just like the adaptive triggers in the PS5 DualSense controller. That’s something the Meta Quest 2, or indeed other VR headsets, won’t likely be able to compete with. Add in Sony’s proprietary Tempest 3D AudioTech and you’re potentially looking at a VR headset that sounds and feels more immersive than other headsets in the market.
Then with the power of the PS5, the PS VR2 should be able to deliver better looking, more immersive VR games compared to those on the Quest 2 that rely on the headset’s onboard chipset; that’s unless it’s been tethered to a PC using the Oculus Link cable.
Bigger picture value
Speaking of which, the overall price for the PS VR2 as a package looks set to sit at around $1,000. That’s a big chunk of cash, but then getting a Meta Quest 2, a Link cable and then a suitably powerful gaming PC or one of our picks for the best gaming laptop, and you’re looking at $1,500 if not more.
And there's no guarantee of plug 'n' play compatibility with the Quest 2 and some PC-based VR games. Whereas you can bet your last dollar that Sony will do everything in its power to ensure smoother, hiccup-free performance between the PS VR2 and PS5.
There are some worthy concerns, of course. The most pressing is that Sony will need to make sure it really supports the PS VR2 with games and gets plenty of developers onboard, especially if it’s charging the price of a PS5 for the headset. I have faith Sony will do this, as if nothing else it gives the PS5 a feature the Xbox Series X doesn't have and isn't likely to come close to — at least not anytime soon.
The other worry is that in order for VR to advance and become more accessible for all, it needs more companies to make more affordable VR headsets connected to a blooming VR software ecosystem. Console gaming is far more accessible than PC gaming, so one would have potentially expected Sony to come up with a more affordably priced VR system. Alas, that’s not going to happen.
Then again, VR has long been a niche area of tech, albeit one that’s growing. So there’s a bit of an expectation that people who want extra levels of immersion will pay for it. It's a bit like how I decided to pay for the boost an OLED TV (shout out to the LG C1 OLED) delivers to my console gaming, despite having a perfectly good 4K TV.
In many ways the PS VR2 is going to be a luxury gaming item, hence why it's stuffed full of the latest VR technology. While that means it’ll be an instant pass for some, I feel for others having such an option could be exactly what they want from next-generation gaming. And if you fall into the latter camp, then check out our guide on how to pre-order the PS VR2.