John Carmack, former CTO of Oculus and key player in the VR startup’s genesis story, says Sony’s upcoming PSVR 2 headset may be see a bumpy road to adoption based on its high price and potential for scattershot geographic distribution.
Carmack seems to really like PSVR 2’s hardware from a technical standpoint; the headset’s 2,000 x 2,040 per-eye OLED displays combined with PS5’s ray tracing performance might deliver some notable gains when it comes to motion-to-photon latency, meaning the console’s GPU may yet be able to deliver more compute overhead for developers.
As a legendary programmer and one-time spearhead of Meta’s mobile VR hardware, it’s just the sort of thing Carmack typically thinks about when it comes to virtual reality headsets.
In a recent tweet, where he lauded PSVR 2’s potential graphical gains, Carmack says he actually doesn’t expect PSVR 2 to be “very successful at $600”:
I don’t expect PSVR2 to be very successful at $600, but technically, with a directly connected OLED display and decent ray tracing performance, it is an opportunity to implement just-in-time ray tracing for couple-millisecond 6DOF motion-to-photons latency, which I would really
— John Carmack (@ID_AA_Carmack) January 26, 2023
Releasing on February 22nd, PSVR 2 carries a price tag of $550, which after sales tax puts it somewhere close to $600 out-the-door in most states. That’s a fair jump past Quest 2’s $400/$500 price tag, depending on whether you buy the 128 GB or 256 GB version.
Former Oculus CTO John Carmack | Photo courtesy Meta
Still, this doesn’t take into account the all-in price to actually play PSVR 2, which at $400 for the PS5 Digital Edition and $500 for Console with disc drive, puts it somewhere north of $1,000 for everything required. But what about Sony’s impressive global reach with PS5?
In a follow-up tweet, Carmack mentions that PS5’s admittedly large global footprint, now tallying 30 million consoles worldwide, isn’t nearly as important as having a higher concentration of devices spanning a smaller geographic area.
“Addressable market size matters much more to developers than global coverage. A 5M market size distributed across every country is much less attractive than a 10M market in a smaller set of countries. In fact, equal sized markets would favor fewer countries — less work.”
Carmack doesn’t appear to be playing favorites either; he similarly critiqued Meta Quest Pro recently for its “dubious price point,” something which has skewed Meta’s latest and greatest away from consumers and more towards the mixed reality headset as a work productivity device.
Doubts about PSVR 2 seem to be mounting the in few weeks preceding its February launch. Public perception was recently injected with a heavy measure of uncertainty about its pre-order performance. A Bloomberg report earlier this week claimed Sony had slashed production forecasts of PSVR 2 by half to just one million units expected in the first quarter, something Sony has now refuted.
Looking to learn all about PSVR 2 before it launches this month? Check out our top articles covering games, hardware previews and more:
Hands-on: Across-the-board Improvements Are Coming to Sony’s VR Headset
Launch Day Games Revealed, 30+ Titles Including ‘Horizon’, ‘Resident Evil Village’ & ‘Gran Turismo 7’
Every Game Getting a Free PSVR 2 Upgrade (so far)
PSVR 2 Unlikely to Ever Work on PC, Says Creator Behind PSVR 1 Compatibility Driver