We still impatiently waiting for the critical mass of VR headsets to take hold, but Q3 2017 represented the biggest step yet. It marked the first quarterly period ever where one million premium-tier virtual reality headsets were sold. Make no mistake, this is a huge milestone, indicating VR is climbing out of that launch slump and achieving some form of commercial success.
Sony’s comfortably in pole position on this front, aided by offering the cheapest of three main VR headsets in conjunction with the simplest hardware requirements - own a PS4. 49% of the VR headsets sold in Q3 2017 were PSVR, indicating total sales of close to half a million units in a three-month period. Oculus followed up in second place with 21%, the HTC Vive shifted 160,000, while ‘Others’ were responsible for the remaining 14%.
The increased unit sales likely came from a range of discounts and promotional efforts, including both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive slashing their prices by $200. This brings the VR headsets into far more affordable territory; their launch prices were prohibitively expensive.
“VR adoption in the consumer segment is highly dependent on price, and Oculus’ strategy of lowering prices has definitely helped drive adoption,” said Canalys research analyst Vincent Thielke.
Following the bump in sales, Oculus then decided to permanently reduce the price of the Oculus Rift down to $399 for Q4 2017. Sony has also been running deals for $250 PSVRs during Black Friday week, selling more PSVRs during Black Friday than it had the previous 18 weeks combined. Black Friday sales don’t factor into the figures above, so from that we can determine that Sony sold well in excess of half a million PlayStation VR headsets within a week.
“Sony is well placed to take advantage of this increasing interest in VR,” said Canalys analyst Jason Low. “Sony has dominated the Japanese VR headset market since the release of the PS VR, taking more than an 80% share, and will continue to lead as it increases the supply of the PS VR headset with bundles featuring new titles from popular franchises, including Doom, Skyrim and Gran Turismo.”
The global VR market is now gradually emerging from its niche and becoming a mainstream product, and this is only expected to accelerate heading into 2018. Oculus is planning to launch its $199 Oculus Go dedicated VR deadset, while Microsoft is also planning its own mixed reality headsets in conjunction with a number of hardware partners.
After a tepid start, the future of VR is beginning to look much brighter. For VR owners this means bigger projects are now feasible for developers, who’ve had to focus on smaller, and comparatively expensive titles in order to profit from a tiny audience.
Have you picked up a VR headset during the recent sales? Are we finally reaching a tipping point where VR is achieving mainstream success? Let us know your thoughts below!