PlayStation VR- Sony has revealed that its virtual reality headset will cost $399.
That makes it $200 cheaper than Facebook’s rival Oculus Rift and $400 less than HTC’s Vive.
Although the PlayStation VR is seen as being less advanced than its two rivals, many experts think it will outsell them.
However, the disclosure that it will not be released until October means Sony will fail to meet its earlier target of the first half of 2016.
The Japanese company also revealed that it expects more than 50 games tailored to its headset will be available at its launch.
Virtual reality involves a user’s vision being filled with computer-generated images or 360-degree views of stitched-together videos, which move as they tilt and angle their head.
When done well, this results in the wearer feeling as if they are present within the environments they see, delivering a more engaging experience than looking at a TV or monitor.
The research firm IHS has forecast that about 53 million people will own a PlayStation 4 console – which is required to use the new PlayStation VR – by the end of this year.
It predicts 1.6 million people will buy Sony’s headset before 2017 and that the biggest limit on sales will be the speed at which it can manufacture the device.
“When Oculus and HTC announced their relative headset pricing, Sony was offered an open goal opportunity to take an early lead in the consumer VR market, which it has taken with aplomb,” said IHS analyst Piers Harding-Rolls.
“Sony’s walled garden approach to the PS4 platform means it is well placed to provide a better controlled and consistent VR experience to consumers. This will be important in driving adoption and positive word of mouth.”
By contrast, HTC and Oculus rely on gamers owning a relatively high-end Windows PC, which will add to the cost of using them.
One consequence is that both the Vive and the Rift should be able to run games with more advanced graphics. They both also offer higher resolution displays and a wider field of view, which could make games seem more immersive.
But the PlayStation VR provides a faster refresh rate – allowing it to display 120 frames per second, rather than the 90fps limit of its rivals – which should make its games seem smoother and less likely to cause motion sickness.
It is not known what Sony’s profit margin will be on the device. But there has been speculation that it is willing to make a loss at launch in order to capture a bigger slice of the market.
“Next-generation consoles have historically been sold close to – if not below – cost and PlayStation VR is likely to be no different,” commented Geoff Blaber from the consultancy CCS Insight.
“Sony has a big opportunity to build an early leadership position and extend its PS network to a new platform.”
Reviewers suggest that the best VR games are designed with the format in mind, rather than just ports of existing titles.
Games designers are also still experimenting with how best to use it.
Bearing in mind most players will not invest in virtual reality hardware for some time to come, if at all, that makes it a relatively high-risk venture.
“Games-makers need as big an install base as possible to get a viable return on their investment when they are developing for VR,” commented Rob Crossley, UK editor at the news site Gamespot.
“Sony, HTC and Oculus will all want each others’ devices to sell well to inspire those developers.
“They all need each other to succeed because this is uncharted territory – a concept that has yet to be proven on the market.”