Today at the Games Developer Conference in San Francisco, Sony announced that its PlayStation VR headset, with a 1920x1080 OLED display, 90 and 120 Hz refresh rate, and sub-18ms latency, will be out in October. And why do we PC gamers care about that, you may not unreasonably ask? Because it also revealed that the unit will cost $399, significantly cheaper than either of the big offerings headed our way.
Those would be the Oculus Rift, which costs $599, and the HTC Vive, with a sinus-clearing $799 price. Based on current GameStop pricing, that means you could buy a 500GB PS4 (with Black Ops 3!) and the PlayStation VR headset for less than the Vive rig all by itself. Ouch.
Except it's not quite that simple. As Ars Technica points out, the price which Sony announced doesn't include the PS Move camera required to track the headset, nor does it come with hand-tracking controllers. But the camera goes for a relatively paltry $60, and some PS4 peeps—especially those inclined to leap into the PSVR, I would guess—will already own one anyway. And the Oculus Rift's own specialty controller won't even be available for purchase until well after the headset launches.
The debate over hidden costs and optional hardware aside, the point here is that PlayStation VR is looking to seriously undercut the Rift and Vive in the great VR landgrab. That's not necessarily a problem—game consoles dominate the market, but high-end PC gaming continues to flourish—and it remains to be seen how the PS experience will compare to what we can get on the PC. I suppose it's even possible that the PSVR could be hacked to work on the PC at some point, similar to how the Kinect was, all those years ago.
We'll have impressions of the Oculus launch line-up later this week, plus coverage of all the latest Vive content direct from Valve's presentation. The imminent arrival of mainstream VR on multiple devices is very much the story of this year's GDC so far. Whether or not we're about to see a full blown format war remains to be seen, but the major players are jostling hard for position and price is going to be a key differential. Who, if anyone, is your VR money on?