SuperData firm says VR was the 'biggest loser' in sales this year

According to games data and marker research firm SuperData, virtual reality wound up being the "biggest loser" in terms of sales this Black Friday weekend, and for 2016 overall (via GI.biz).

VR headsets are expected to sell "notably fewer units sold than expected due to a relatively fragmented title line-up and modest marketing effort," per the firm.

SuperData adjusted its 2016 forecast for PSVR units sold from 2.6 million to under 750,000. Similarly, the firm adjusted its projected sales for Google Daydream from 450,000 to around 261,000.

The firm's projections for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Gear VR remain locked in at 450k, 355k, and 2.3 million, respectively.

SuperData director of research and insights Stephanie Llamas went into detail regarding the dramatic shift in expectations for Sony's PlayStation VR headset. "PSVR had the best opportunity to benefit from the holidays but their supply inconsistencies and lack of marketing have put them behind their potential. They did not offer any first-party deals this weekend, restock bundles or market the device, pushing instead for the PS 4 Pro," she said.

"They have also pointed out that VR looks even better on a Pro than a standard or slim PS 4, so the message to most gamers is: Get the Pro now, then the PSVR later. As a result, we won't see them break 1M shipments until well into the new year."

Llamas floated a theory: that perhaps Sony intentionally curbed marketing support for PSVR until such time as the platform has more support. "Had Sony pushed the PSVR the way they've been pushing their other new hardware, the demand would have certainly fulfilled a supply of over 2 million. However, given its quiet release it's clear they're being cautious before fully investing in the tech."

Her reasoning makes sense. PSVR lacks a killer app. Until one materializes, it doesn't make sense for Sony to flood the market with headsets knowing they'll wind up collecting dust on shelves.

"They can afford to take it slow since they have no competition for now, so their supply and sales will rise steadily into 2017 as opposed to riding the seasonal wave," Llamas said.

While SuperData saw no need to adjust its projections for Oculus Rift, Llamas shared the firm's belief that the company faces its own set of challenges, most stemming from its new peripheral. "The Rift's Touch controllers are an opportunity for Oculus to penetrate, but not many headsets have moved, especially with their round-about deal where purchasers earned $100 Oculus credit rather than just getting $100 off."

As a result, developers have to choose whether to develop software for Touch or not. "This means development has slowed and is becoming another barrier to growth," she said.

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