GfK director Paul Simpson breaks down the latest data for virtual reality hardware and explains why PSVR has the potential to reach the mainstream market
Half of the UK population is interested in owning a VR device. Virtual reality is a well-recognised term, and it seems the concept is gaining traction with consumers. In our recent survey (October 2016), one in five UK consumers aged 16-plus said they find the concept of VR appealing.
Currently, interest is strongest among gamers, more specifically PlayStation gamers.In fact, gaming is by far the main potential use of VR identified by consumers.
VR devices Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, both of which are focused towards gamers, suffer when compared to PlayStation VR.The VR units of the former are more expensive (550-plus vs c.350) and require a relatively high performance PC.PlayStation VR also benefits from a large installed base of PS4 owners (more than 3.5m in the UK).
Early UK sales of PlayStation VR indicate it is already approaching the combined installed base of HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.Initial PlayStation VR game sales are also positive with eight or nine boxed releases featuring in the Official UK Top 40 games chart (for the week ending Saturday 15th October 2016).
Initial reactions to PSVR are positive. Excited owners are keen to show off their new purchase. Early adopters weren't certain what to expect from a VR gaming experience.The Sony PlayStation branding eradicated many concerns and led to high expectations.
Our survey shows that initial reactions from owners of PlayStation VR are positive.Some told us that the experience surpasses expectations, and for many it is a talking point with their friends.Others believe the VR gaming experience to be a solitary one, but have been pleasantly surprised by social elements of VR gaming.
PlayStation VR gamers are most interested in the games and the experience of playing.This means they tend to ignore the technical specs and a few niggles with set-up.Despite experiencing some unfamiliarity or disorientation, verging on mild nausea, the gamers we spoke to quickly acclimatised to their new reality and continued to play.
PlayStation VR is starting tobridge the chasm from hard-core gamers into the mass market. What does the future hold?
Some early adopters we contacted felt the need for better games, expressing that current titles lack the depth they demand.More triple-A titles are actively sought.
With all the buzz and excitement around PlayStation VR, the move towards the mass market is beginning.We know that consumers struggle to think of other uses for new technologies like VR.It will be up to manufacturers to develop and showcase their benefits that are relevant to non-console gamers.
Sales during the festive season will be key, as will the raft of new products and innovations unveiled at the upcoming CES and MWC.One thing is for sure; Sony is off to a good start.Let's see how the VR story develops over the coming months with Google Daydream and other products entering the market.