We ask our industry panel - the brightest and sharpest VR professionals from around the world - one question about the VR industry, business, technology or trending stories every week.
This week saw hundreds of Japanese consumers queuing for the chance to buy a PS VR. Is this an indication of strong global demand for VR, or is Japan a unique territory? Did Sony underestimate market appetite, or is this kind of high profile shortage just good marketing?
Stephanie Llamas, VP, Research and Strategy at SuperData Research
“With Sony and Nintendo, Japan has always had a rich tradition of being an innovation hub for new tech and consoles, so it's not a surprise gamers there are so enthusiastic for VR - and PS VR specifically. This echoes a global demand that may not be quite as avid but does exists.
“Sony did not underestimate - we all overestimated because its clear consumers want to buy it. The company is just releasing headsets at a strategic rate, likely to test out the market and bring on new IP that will increase hunger for PS VR in the long run.
“It also doesn't hurt them to have a 'sold-out' product, but we all are still eagerly waiting to hear them announce how many headsets were actually sold.”
Japan is the true spiritual home of the console, so you'd expect the PS VR to initially sell well there.Jonathan Wagstaff
Jonathan Wagstaff, Country Manager - UK & IE at CONTEXT
"The high-profile shortage hasn't done Sony too many disfavours although I'm not 100% convinced it was a stunt. We didn't see parents queuing around the block for mile after mile last month and many early passionate early adopters would have snapped one up in the first few days, so disappointment was easily managed.
“In our market data, PS VR has sold healthily in the EU since launch, so I don't think this is just another Japanese hi-tech obsession. Just as the PS2 smashed its competition thanks to its DVD capability, so PS VR is a tempting purchase, as it doesn't require an expensive $1000+ PC to run.
“Arguably, Japan is the true spiritual home of the console, not the PC, so you'd expect the PS VR to initially sell well there compared to say Korea or China."
Dean Johnson, Head of Innovation at Brandwidth
“I’m so annoyed with Sony. They made a bold sales forecast for PS VR over Christmas, then ran out of stock. To the outside world, it was a failure resulting in a loss of interest because Sony didn’t hit their targets.
“This is an absolute Muppet Show from a company that should have been gifted the VR market lead. It annoys me so much that these people have jobs – and the hopes and expectations of a fledgling industry. It’s this kind of thing that gives ammo to the ‘VR is dead, AR has won’ critics.”
Having been in Japan recently, it’s clear there’s more than a passing interest in VR.Simon Drake
Simon Drake, Special Features Writer at TheVirtualReport.biz
“Japan is most certainly a unique territory; one with very unique tastes in gaming and technology. Having been in Japan recently, it’s clear VR is something there’s more than a passing interest in - and this news only compounds that. For example, there were also queues when I visited the VR Theme Park in Shibuya. (See pic)
“Nevertheless, I do believe that Sony probably underestimated the market appetite for PS VR in comparison to Western countries. In my opinion, the Japanese VR market is still currently more geared to dedicated theme park style attractions right now, rather than as a consumer product.
“Sony may have prioritised Western countries over their domestic market because of this, as this was also the case when it came to launch of the PlayStation 4, with Japan receiving the console four months after North America and Europe.
“This doesn't mean that this news is a red herring though, rather I think this just points to the fact that the platform is growing in popularity more and more in Japan. However, if history has taught us anything, it may be slightly premature to apply this to a global market due to Japan’s unique nature.”