PlayStation VR Ships, Enters Virtual Reality Race

The Move motion control handsets are also available on Thursday.
Courtesy of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.

The long-awaited Playstation VR system from Sony is now available in North America, and Hollywood is anxious to see the impact that it has on the virtual reality market.

Playstation VR lists for $399, and runs with a $299 Playstation 4. According to Sony, the PS4 has an installed base of 43 million, leading to speculation that that may give Sony a sizable advantage over high-end VR rivals Oculus Rift ($599) and HTC Vive ($799), both of which require a supported computer to operate.

On the content side of the equation, Sony is also playing to its strengths, with a focus on its core gaming audience. Sony reported that roughly 30 first- and third-party games are now available for the system, including CCP Games' EVE Valkyrie and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment's Batman: Arkman VR.

Key for gamers as well as Hollywood, a pair of Playstation Move handheld motion controllers can now be purchased for $99 for use with PSVR. That means that interactive experiences such as The Martian VR Experience from 20th Century Fox, Fox Innovation Lab, RSA Films and The VR Company will be on the way for PlayStation VR and other supported VR systems.

Narrative content that will be available also includes Madagascar director Eric Darnell’s animated alien short Invasion!, created via his Baobab VR studio.

Around 11.4 million or 6 percent of Americans will have a VR headset by the end of 2016, according to a forecast from research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics.

Still, the study projects that the lower-cost mobile-phone-driven headsets (including Samsung VR Gear, Google Cardboard, and recently announced Google Daydream View VR) will account for 93 percent of units owned, while game console-driven VR (Playstation VR) will account for 6 percent, and those that plug into PC (Rift, Vive) will make up just 1 percent of sales this year.

Strategy Analytics forecasts that by the end of next year, an estimated 16 percent of U.S. adults will own a VR headset, rising to 27 percent in 2018.