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article imagePlayStation VR passes the one million sales mark

By James Walker     Jun 5, 2017 in Technology
Sony's PlayStation VR console virtual reality headset has now sold over one million units worldwide, the company has revealed. It puts the system ahead of competing products including desktop-based solutions like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
Sony announced in February that the PlayStation VR sold 915,000 units in the first quarter it was available. It launched in October 2016. In an interview with TIME today, Sony's global game development leader Shawn Layden confirmed the headset has now landed in the homes of one million PlayStation players.
The milestone is significant as it indicates just how wide a lead console virtual reality has gained over its more powerful desktop counterpart. The Verge reports that research firm Super-Data found the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, the leading PC-based headsets, had sold 420,000 and 243,000 units respectively at the end of 2016. This leads to combined sales of around 660,000.
Although the figure will have risen in the five months since December, Sony's lead is likely to number in the hundreds of thousands of shipments. This is despite the headset launching later and with an audience many had thought would be less enthusiastic to abandon their game controllers.
Part of the system's success has come from its simplicity and broad support. Because the PlayStation 4 Pro includes everything needed to use PlayStation VR, getting setup is easy. Gamers know what they need to buy and costs are lower than getting a new gaming PC and hoping it will work. Even so, the strong start has taken everyone by surprise, including Sony's global sales chief Jim Ryan.
"It is away ahead of our expectations," Ryan said of the PlayStation Pro and VR to TIME. "As with PSVR, and I suppose in forecasting these things we haven't done a very good job, the product is in desperately short supply. So [PlayStation Pro shipments] are under severe constraint."
Sony believes the supply issues will be resolved over the next few months, giving it a free run into the holiday season. The company is working hard to ensure stores will have plentiful stock of the high-performance consoles and accompanying virtual reality headsets. Eager to maintain the momentum of the system, it will be hoping that everyone who wants to buy into VR will be able to do so.
The company also recognises it has a long way to go before it will sell every gamer on the benefits of VR. Although the one million sales mark is a significant milestone, it represents a tiny fraction of the 60 million PlayStation 4 owners worldwide. Sony will need to make a strong case to convince everyone to buy new hardware and embrace wearing a headset to play games.
Success is on its side here though. With demand outstripping supply, game developers have more incentive to build titles for the platform. Although the audience is still comparatively small, developers looking at VR could be compelled to choose Sony's offering, in turn attracting more players.
Developers could end up looking favourably at PSVR compared with choosing between the Rift or Vive and trying to market the result to sceptical PC gamers. Sony is confident that investing in PSVR will pay off, stating that the technology will transform entertainment.
"We don't see it as a fad, it's a brand new medium, not only for gaming entertainment, but for non-gaming entertainment," Layden said during the interview with TIME.
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