Reaching the vaunted one-million-sold milestone puts PlayStation VR even further ahead of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive—which, according to industry market research firm SuperData, sold 243,000 and 420,000 by the end of 2016, respectively—but still a far cry from the five million Gear VR units that Samsung has sold.
Sony Interactive Entertainment America's Shawn Layden, president and CEO, seemed reserved about PSVR's success. "It's still just a million units," he said. As a frame of reference, Sony has sold over 50 million PlayStation 4 consoles, making PSVR's adoption look quite small.
Nevertheless, Layden is optimistic, expecting high sales through the end of the year thanks to greater availability—a critical ingredient in any product's recipe for success that eluded Sony last holiday. "We'll have freer supply in the marketplace. We got to a point around [last] Christmas where you would be hard-pressed to find VR anywhere. So we dialed back some of our promotional activity at that time because we didn't want to be promoting a platform for people to find out they couldn't get it. I didn't want to create more unhappy customers."
PSVR might be doing even better if not for a paucity of software. The VR headset launched with a flurry of short but impressive games last fall. Layden cited data showing that users have purchased 5.25 million PSVR games and played an average of 25 minutes a session. That stream of releases thinned to a trickle rather quickly, something Sony hopes to correct sooner rather than later.
"When a new console or a new platform launches, there's a lot of activity driving launch day," said Layden. "And then there's the inevitable lull between that and the next launch of titles. I think we're seeing that happening now. Farpoint is the lead of that, and we'll be talking about a number of other titles at E3."
Another sticking point that could be causing some consumers to hold off on PSVR is its lifecycle. PS4 turns four years old this November. Before last generation—PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii—most platforms lasted between four to five years. Layden and Sony are still trying to prognosticate where PSVR will be a year from now, let alone in five or more.
"We're still trying to understand exactly what people are going to want to do in that medium," Layden said. "It's hard to make predictions about it. People will want it to be smaller, lighter, wireless — these are all things we're looking at from a conventional iteration process. But I don't presume to be able to tell you what VR is going to look like in the year 2018 or 2019. We're going to find out together as we go along.""