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Sony PSVR2 Headset Off to Slow Start as Metaverse Push Sputters

(Bloomberg) -- Sony Group Corp. is projected to sell fewer than 300,000 PlayStation VR2 headsets in its first weeks on the market, a slow start for company efforts to take a leading role in development of the metaverse.

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The Tokyo-based console maker is likely to sell about 270,000 units of the PSVR2 between its Feb. 22 release and the end of March, according to estimates from the research firm IDC. Sony had a lofty goal of making about 2 million units for the PSVR2’s launch window, Bloomberg News reported last year.

The headset is a foundational piece of Sony’s strategy to build a metaverse where people can do far more than play video games. But the conceptual 3D virtual environments that prompted Mark Zuckerberg to rename his company Meta Platforms Inc. have yet to repay the industry’s heavy investments in hardware and software. Sony president and Chief Executive Officer Kenichiro Yoshida made the metaverse a growth tentpole for Sony, much like Meta has done, and the company’s in-house game studios have been developing VR-tailored games to help the new headset get off to a fast start that hasn’t materialized.

“Consumers around the world are facing rising costs of living, rising interest rates and rising layoffs,” said IDC’s Francisco Jeronimo, vice president of data and analytics. “VR headsets are not top of mind for most consumers under the current economic climate.”

Chief Financial Officer Hiroki Totoki said at a recent Morgan Stanley conference that Sony is reasonably confident about surpassing the roughly 5 million sales of the original PlayStation VR goggles over the course of the PSVR2’s lifetime on the market. Matching the prior device’s performance would not make the current one a success, given Meta’s more accessible and affordable Quest has surpassed 20 million sales to date, according to a report this month.

A Sony spokesperson declined to comment.

The PSVR2 requires a PlayStation 5 console to play with and costs $549, a price that’s only grown more onerous as economic conditions have worsened, Jeronimo said. Meta has announced a price cut on its Quest 2 that will also impact sales of Sony’s gadget.

“I suspect a price cut on the PSVR2 will be needed to avoid a complete disaster of their new product,” Jeronimo said.

Read more: Sony Slashes PlayStation VR2 Output After Weak Pre-Orders

The cool consumer reception to the PSVR2 is indicative of the wider challenge for metaverse purveyors, including Meta. Hype around metaverse offerings has petered out over the past year, as tech firms have cut spending on projects that aren’t immediately profitable and support from the crypto sector has vanished as that industry reels from successive crises.

Zuckerberg has said Meta will pull back on investments as part of a “year of efficiency.” This week, Walt Disney Co. reportedly cut the division developing its metaverse strategies as part of a broader restructuring.

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