Playstation VR has a major problem: the price of its games

'A Pay-to-play  game that costs upwards of £50. Madness'

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The Independent Culture

For anyone who has yet to experience Virtual Reality, I implore you, seek out a VR experience of some description. Whether Goggle Cardboard or Oculus Rift, it will be mind blowing. Why else would everyone who's anyone be talking about it being the future?

When it comes to quality VR becoming a living room reality, though, there are many questions. Will the general public buy into (literally) the idea of these headsets being a device for the living room, rather than one for Star Trek fans? Will there ever be a reason to? 

For now, the fate of VR rests upon one headset: Playstation VR. Unlike the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive - both of which have been available for some time - Sony’s recent headset does not require a £1000 supercomputer, nor is it hugely overpriced (Rift: £549, Vive: £800). Instead, Sony's Playstation 4 is required, costin £250 and being the world’s best-selling console since the Nintendo Wii. The headset is also comparatively cheap, starting at £350 (but requiring a £40 Playstation Camera and optional (but not really) Playstation Move controllers, priced at £30 each (you’ll want two)).

In total, therefore, a PSVR rig costs around £700 and that’s the cheapest way to access VR - not including those that use a mobile phone. That’s an awful lot of money, but thankfully there are a lot of PS4 owners out there already. 

More importantly, once players have invested, the VR experience is something very special. PSVR looks incredible, the headset is comfier than both competitors, and already it has a sizeable catalogue of games. Highlights include; Batman Arkham VR, which puts you in the body of Batman; RIGS, in which you play as someone wearing huge mechanised combat armour (a bit like Titanfall); and Job Simulator, where you’re a human doing everyday 20th-century jobs. Then there's Battlezone, PSVR Worlds, and Driveclub VR, all fun in their own right.

However, there’s one major drawback. Because after you’ve invested £350 in a headset, £40 in a camera, and £60 in controllers, the last thing anyone wants is to spend hundreds on actually playing the damn thing. Yet, that’s exactly what players are having to do. The aforementioned Batman game, for instance, will set players back £15.99. That may not seem excessive but, for a game that lasts little over an hour and a half with barely any replay value, that’s a fair whack.

Job Simulator - as much as I love the experience - is basically four, half-hour interactive experiences with no replay value. With a price of £23.99 on the UK Playstation store, that's quite a bit. Then there’s RIGS, one of the only games to give me serious nausea: £49.99. Reviewers have been noting the similarities with Rocket League - a personal favourite of mine - yet that was made available for free on PS4 for a month at launch. For almost £50, players should rightly expect the next Uncharted, not a relatively disappointing semi-shooter.

Worst of all is EVE: Valkyrie, the multiplayer space-set dogfighter set in the EVE Online universe. On PC, the game received middling reviews at best. On PS4, things are no better and there’s a price tag of £54.99 before in-game purchases (not necessary, but they exist) which allow your character to level up faster. A pay-to-win game that costs upwards of £50. Madness. 

Despite my hopeless excitement for PSVR, these prices - for what in many cases are just glorified demos - will surely put off casual players. That’s the opposite of what PSVR is about. If Sony wants to sell headsets, these prices are going to have to drop, or else Virtual Reality in the living room will take another huge step in the wrong direction.