GameStop CEO Says Company Isn't Selling PlayStation VR Until This Fall, Contradicting Sony
Tuesday morning on Fox Business, GameStop CEO Paul Raines was on to talk about the industry, and was asked about the coming year of VR. He said that GameStop is preparing for the launches of the Oculus Rift, the HTC HTCCY +% Vive and PlayStation VR. The first two GameStop is still “in discussions” with regarding sales in their store, but Sony is already a done deal.
“We will launch the Sony product this fall,” Raines said in the interview.
That’s all well and good, unfortunately it contradicts Sony’s own timetable, which previously said that PlayStation VR would be out in the first half of 2016, and we haven’t heard otherwise since. But that was being reported a year ago, and plans may have changed.
While releasing in the fall would make PlayStation VR a holiday-type purchase, both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are supposedly going to be released this spring (though that has obviously been subject to change the past few years). If Sony pushes PlayStation VR out of this window and the others don’t move, that could be a potential problem.
Why? Isn’t the Christmas slot better? Doesn’t a later release mean Sony has more time to fine-tune their VR entry?
Perhaps, but the problem is that if both the Oculus Rift and Vive come out early, they’re going to be gobbling up the dollars of the early VR adapters. The Rift is $600, which is very hefty indeed, and the Vive is expected to be priced close to that.
What that means is that if early adopters pick up a Rift or Vive, they’re less likely to pick up a second headset. And if they do, it might be a Vive or a Rift, instead of PlayStation VR if it has been delayed into fall.
Of course, the one advantage that PlayStation VR has over both of these headsets is that it’s going to work instantly with the 30+ million PS4s that are already in the wild. There are way more PS VR compatible PS4s out there than there are Rift or Vive compatible PCs, so that gives it an innate advantage whenever it launches. And Sony is reportedly pursuing a lower price point than the Vive or the Rift, something it did with the PS4 which gave it an early edge over the Xbox One, which has carried through this entire console generation so far.
Honestly, VR is such an unknown, unstable market at this point, it’s really anyone’s guess how this next year shakes out. I think when it comes down to it, delaying PS VR three or four months into the fall will not really make all that much of a difference in the end, and could even be used to Sony’s benefit, if things work out well. If PlayStation delivers a cheaper, well-functioning VR system that works with any PS4, I could see them becoming a market leader and leaping ahead of Oculus and HTC.
But Sony has yet to announce an official delay or rescheduling of the PlayStation VR, so what Paul Raines is saying here is somewhat unclear. One possibility is that Sony will start selling PS VR in the spring, but the deal its worked out with GameStop means it wouldn’t be in their stores until fall. I don’t really have any idea why a deal like that would be made, but I suppose it is theoretically possible. I’ve reached out to Sony and GameStop to see if either company can give any clarity about this calendar.
A delay probably wouldn’t hurt PlayStation VR all that much, given the uncertainty of the entire market at this point, but this is something Sony should probably make clear sooner rather than later.
Update: From a GameStop representative: “There is certainly a lot of excitement around virtual reality. To clarify, Sony has not officially announced a release date for PlayStation VR. Whenever it launches, we are excited about how the technology will change gaming.”