SAN FRANCISCO - When Sony announced the price of PlayStation VR at GDC 2016, it felt like a mic drop. The company's headset will cost just $399 when it launches this fall. That's much cheaper than the $599 Oculus Rift, and half the price of the $799 HTC Vive.
However, when you factor in the other hardware needed to operate Sony's immersive VR machine, it's not quite as cheap as it seems.
While Sony didn't make much mention of this at its press conference, PlayStation VR requires a PlayStation camera (normally around $45) to work. You'll also need at least one PlayStation Move controller (roughly $35 each) to make the most out of motion-controlled games like Golem and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. Sony's headset ships with a pair of earbuds, but you'll have to shell out for a high-end set of cans if you want that extra layer of immersion.
This isn't necessarily a huge deal -- many PS4 owners already have a camera and some sort of headset, and Move controllers aren't a gigantic expense. When you add it all up though, you're looking at upwards of $500 for an experience that's advertised at $399.
Of course, this problem isn't unique to PlayStation. Oculus Rift may be the most affordable of the two major PC VR headsets at $599, but it doesn't ship with touch controllers like the $799 HTC Vive does. Depending on the cost of Oculus Touch, the price gap between the two headsets may not be as big as it seems.
There's also the issue of software. Both Rift and Vive ship with a pair of full-on games: Lucky's Tale and Eve: Valkryie for the Rift, Job Simulator and Fantastic Contraption for the Vive. PlayStation VR owners, on the other hand, get The Playroom VR: a series of mini-games that may not appeal to core gamers the way a full-on triple-A title might.
While Sony would be wise to bundle a camera with it, PlayStation VR is still far and away the most affordable premium VR platform -- even if you need to drop an extra $45 to use it. The device's hidden costs are part of a problem that's as old as having to buy a second controller so a friend can play Nintendo with you. Just make sure you have what you need before you dive in.