The public is about to get its first glimpse at the second generation of Sony’s PlayStation virtual reality headset, the PSVR2.
Attendees at the annual Tokyo Game Show, which opens Sept. 15, will be able to play a demo version of an upcoming Resident Evil VR game on the PSVR2. It’s the first time anyone will get their hands on the headset, aside from a handful of developers and early product testers.
The PSVR2 represents Sony’s renewed commitment to virtual reality. The company was once at the vanguard of VR development: When it released the original PSVR in 2016, it quickly outsold competing headsets like the Oculus Rift and was listed as one of Time’s best inventions of the year. But while the PSVR earned positive reviews, less than 5% of PlayStation owners actually bought the device in the first three years after its launch. As sales slumped in 2020, Sony PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan predicted VR wouldn’t be a meaningful part of gaming for years.
So it came as something of a surprise when Sony announced it was developing the PSVR2 in February 2021. Like its predecessor, the PSVR2 won’t work unless it’s plugged into a PlayStation, but the new headset will use a smaller USB-C cable to connect to the console. It will also come with an updated set of hand controllers and offer better resolution, field of view, and eye-tracking to create a more convincing image.
The PSVR2 appears to be a worthy successor to Sony’s first foray into VR. The only question is whether it will be enough to catch up to the Oculus Quest 2, the breakout headset that has supplanted the PSVR as the top-selling VR device and likely inspired Sony to redouble its efforts to enter the metaverse.
The Oculus Quest pushes Sony into the metaverse
The Quest 2 VR headset launched in October 2020 and quickly became the best-selling VR headset of all time. By June 2021, within eight months of its release, it had sold 4 million units—a milestone it took 29 months for the original PSVR to reach. As of June 2022, Quest 2 had sold nearly 15 million units. PSVR hasn’t revealed another sales milestone since it hit 5 million sales on Jan. 1, 2020.
The Quest is now officially called the Meta Quest after Facebook, which has owned Oculus since 2014, renamed itself Meta and committed its future to developing the fuzzy, VR-adjascent concept of “the metaverse” in October 2021. In the wave of hype that followed, seemingly every company became a metaverse company. Sony is no exception: After watching the frenzy play out, Sony revealed a plan in May to enter the metaverse via its gaming, music, and live events divisions.
As tech prognosticators—and Wall Street analysts—herald the imminent arrival of the metaverse and the torrent of consumer spending that will flow through it, Sony is betting that the PSVR2 will be its portal into a lucrative future.