If you have plans to buy a PlayStation VR system this week, wait until Friday. Sony just announced a price drop that kicks in on September 1 that will save you some money. The deal is especially lucrative up in Canada.
Competition is heating up in the VR hardware industry, and it can only mean good things for consumers. It’s safe to say that the early adopter phase of home VR is coming to an end, as prices are dropping and more options are about to hit the market. Sony is feeling the pressure to make its console-based VR system a better value and reworked the PSVR bundle prices to stay competitive.
When Sony released the PlayStation VR peripheral in the fall of 2016, the company offered the most affordable premium VR system that you could buy for your home. Sony’s VR headset pairs with the company’s PlayStation 4 console, which makes it accessible to tens of millions of people, and the headset sold for less than the competing Vive and Rift headsets. You could buy the bundle package with the PS4 Camera and the Move controllers for less money than it would take to buy an Oculus Rift without motion controllers, or you could purchase a PS4 and a PSVR for roughly the same cost as an HTC Vive. The original price for the PSVR system offered a compelling value against the competition; today it’s starting to get hard to swallow because the Vive and Rift are both cheaper now than they were at launch.
Oculus got the ball rolling with price drops, and it appears to have set off a chain reaction. On March 1, Oculus lowered the price of the Rift with Touch controllers to match the original launch price of just the Rift headset. For the first year of the Rift’s existence, it lived in the shadow of the Vive’s capability, but the lower price made it hard to ignore the value the Oculus offered. As if that weren’t enough pressure on HTC and Sony, Oculus dropped the price of the package to $399 for the summer. The summer sale is still running, but when it ends, Oculus plans to set the Rift’s price at $499 permanently.
Last week, HTC Vive announced a price drop of the Vive system, too, which brought the price down from $799 to $599. The company insists that it’s not caving to pressure from Oculus, although if that’s true, we suspect that HTC is preparing for heavy competition from the Windows Mixed Reality platform and Microsoft’s five hardware partners: Dell, Acer, Asus, HP, and Lenovo. Microsoft’s Windows MR platform is set to launch along with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. Dell just announced that its Visor headset would be available in mid-October, and it would retail for $359. The Dell Visor doesn’t include motion controllers, but for an additional $100, you can purchase a bundle that has them.
With price drops and low price points from all the PC-connected VR systems on the market, Sony’s PlayStation VR platform becomes a tougher sell. Sony offers the PSVR in two flavors: The PlayStation VR Worlds bundle, which includes the headset, its cables, the two Move controllers, and the PS4 camera to track the headset and controllers for $499, and the Core bundle, which omits the game, the camera, and the Move controllers and costs $399. If you had a camera already, this bundle could get you into VR somewhat cheaper, but if you didn’t, you would have to purchase one separately, which negated the value proposition.
At the end of the week, Sony will introduce a new price structure for both the Core and PSVR Worlds bundles. The company isn’t dropping the price of the PSVR Core bundle, but it said it would sweeten the pot by adding the camera to the package, which effectively amounts to a $59 discount. Sony didn’t add anything to the PSVR Worlds bundle, but the company said it would lower the price by $50 on Friday.
If you live in Canada, the price drop is even more dramatic. When companies set their market prices, they set them in USD and then convert them to local currencies, which means the price varies from country to country based on their exchange rates. Currency exchange rates fluctuate constantly, but the product prices stay constant for long periods of time. Sometimes that means that the company makes a bit more money per sale, and sometimes that means the consumer gets a raw deal.
When Sony set the original price for the PSVR, the Canadian dollar wasn’t performing well against the US dollar. As such, a $499 PSVR Worlds bundle would set a Canadian buyer back $700. In recent months, the Canadian dollar’s value has increased relative to the US Dollar, which means Canadians have been paying higher and higher prices for VR (and everything else, really). Sony’s new pricing structure reflects the stronger Canadian currency and offers Canadian customers bigger discounts. In Canada, the PSVR Core bundle will drop from $549 to $499 (with the camera), and the PSVR Worlds bundle will drop from $699 to $579. A $120 discount is not too shabby, especially leading into the holiday shopping season.
The new prices for Sony’s PlayStation VR bundles start on September 1.