Sony Explains How it Will Sell PlayStation VR: “The Future of Gaming Lives on PlayStation”

on April 15, 2016 10:22 AM

During GameStop’s Analyst Day 2016 presentation held yesterday, Sony Interactive Entertainment Vice President of Platform Marketing John Koller took the stage to explain how the company intends to make PlayStation VR a success.

According to Koller, PlayStation VR will be an “emergent and ascendant technology” that will change the way in which many consume and digest content. He also mentioned that E3 and other times will hopefully sell people on the idea that it can transport them to places almost physically, making them feel emotionally in another world.

Koller also explained that he thinks that PlayStation VR will be in a very good stead at launch, even thanks to Sony’s retail partners.

“PlayStation overall is in a very good stead. I Think we’ve been very clear about our intent to establish the best place to play, and to do that in ways that really speak authentically to our gaming community.

One way that we really look at doing that is through the launch of PlayStation VR.”

According to Koller, there are a few benefits that will allow PLayStation VR to be in the lead in terms of how gamers will respond to the system:

  • It’s very easy plug and play into the PS4, which is in 36 million homes, and it’s a “very significant part of many gamers’ life.”
  • Due to the PlayStation gaming brand, the expectation from gamers is that PlayStation VR is going to have the best games, establishing the best place to play. With 200 developers involved and 50 games launching in the first three months, it’s going to be a “very, very special launch.”
  • The great relationship with retail partners is also an advantage. This gives Sony the ability to let people try the technology, which is critical. Trial is “unequivocally the most important thing” that Sony can do for the technlogy and for its platform.
  • Sony has a lot of experience with launching new platforms.

Koller mentioned that the company wants to continue to reinforce the point that the future of gaming lives on PlayStation. Sony also thinks that technologies like PlayStation VR will provide experiences that will keep gamers within the console market and within the PlayStation brand. That’s the “most important thing” about the PlayStation VR launch.

The day one target are the same day one PS4 purchasers that were standing in line out of the stores when PS4 launched. The same goes for year one purchasers. They’re very active, buying a lot of games, and they love and enjoy their PS4 for with high time engagement. That’s the same kind of person that Sony thinks will be an active PlayStation VR consumer.

The primary challenge for PlayStation VR is that people may say “you sold me on a lot of fads before.” What Sony responds to that is “try it.” When someone tries it, they walk away with what Sony calls the “PlayStation VR smile” and they think that it’s a fantastic experience.

For those that can’t try it, Sony needs other measures, and is experimenting on ways to boost word of mouth, like having people send their friends clips of themselves experiencing PlayStation VR, encouraging them to try it too.

They are still going to do big TV spots and strong digital placement, but it’s important to have people try the headset, and to have someone there telling them what they need to know. The effective way to sell people on VR is to have someone help them put the headset on and walk them through the experience, at least at first.

The “live to believe” idea is really critical, and if Sony manages to have trial at the center of its communication strategy, and to create the anticipation, the challenge will be to have the right scale, making sure that enough people after that say “i want to try that too,” or become advocates for the experience. Those are the things Sony is working on and thinking about.

VR is also “less rails and more choice.” There are games in which depending on where you look, they will change. The same goes for non-gaming content, with Hollywood now considering on how to write scripts to give power to the viewer.

According to Killer, the ways in which Sony is marrying genres together is very different from the way they do in the normal console space, giving the opportunity to change the way people look at creativity.

Nothing of this can be achieved without trials, so people have to be able to go to a GameStop and try PlayStation VR. Sony has diversity in experiences, content, and a fantastic tech, but people have to get their hands on it. That’s the key to the headset’s success.

An example brought of one of the experiments Sony did was to get a group of skeptical people, have them try PlayStation VR, and make them write a letter their past selves afterwards.

There’s going to be a large amount of in-store demos kicking off in June, and they will be around for some time prior to launch. In order to achieve this, employees will be trained to make sure that they’re up to the challenge.

Ultimately, according to Koller, PlayStation VR is a “fantastic launch and a critical launch” for Sony. They have great content, “tons and tons of fuel in the engine,” but they need trials, and where that is not present, there will be a lot of “heavy lifting” required in other areas. Trial is still where they’re going to make it all work. This requires the help of retail partners like GameStop to be successful. Messaging and advocacy are also critical, and the marketing around the games also needs to be established.

 /  Executive News Editor
Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.