There are two ways PlayStation plans to market its first foray into virtual reality, experiential and social. The managing director of Sony Interactive Entertainment for Australia and New Zealand, Michael Ephraim chats to B&T about the new PS VR product, the importance of capturing the early adopters in the gaming market and changing the preconceptions around social media.
According to Ephraim, the marketing of PS VR is about getting the product out to the people: “With VR, a demo is worth a million words because you just can’t explain the experience until you try it”. But how do you market something which has all of these preconceptions attached to it: ‘virtual reality makes you queasy’, ‘virtual reality gives you motion sickness’ or ‘virtual reality headsets are heavy’.
“The way we’ve marketed consoles before is through above the line, social media and our retail partners with IDUs (Interactive Display Units) in-store. However, VR is very different because it requires more space; you need the space to move around, it’s not as sedentary as an interactive unit.
“At the moment our main push is through experiential, we will have a very big presence at gaming exhibitions including EB expo and PAX at Melbourne. We’ve also announced a Westfield tour, across 10 shopping centers, which will attract thousands of people which will then be amplified over social.
“It’s heavily reliant on experiential, if you really want to sell someone on it they need to put it on. But that takes a bit of time- not just for us but for all VR players- you’ve got to get in the hands of the consumer.”
The second part is communicating the experience on social media. “People have to see videos of people playing the game, taking off the headset and being like ‘wow, that was the best thing I’ve ever done in my life’.”
PlayStation also designed the product itself to be more of a social experience; players can project their PS VR experience directly to the TV screen to let others see what they’re seeing and join your games with Separate mode and display a different view of the action on a TV screen as a second player experience.
“We’re more social than other VR offerings because someone can be wearing the headset and playing inside the game, while someone can be first of all watching what the person is doing on the TV set or joining them in the game through playing a component of the game on a dual controller. So it’s not a solo experience.”
Key Features of PlayStation VR
- Powered by PS4 – PS VR is a new addition to the PS4 ecosystem, which delivers a completely new gaming experience
- Plug-n-Play – This living room capability means players with PS4 consoles, have access to this new level of gaming on purchase with simple plug-n-play
- Immersive experience – Stunning visuals coupled with a 3D audio system replicates the way we see and hear in the real world, creating a complete 360° experience
- Innovative Design – The headset is stylish and comfortable in design
- OLED Display – This new screen expands the field of view and enables low persistence, removing motion blur
- 120Hz refresh rate – Games for PS VR can be rendered at 120fps. When combined with the OLED display’s high refresh rate and the power of PS4, it means PS VR outputs amazingly smooth visuals
- Super low latency – PlayStation has reduced latency to less than 18ms as it is crucial for a great VR experience to delivering a sense of presence and comfort to players
- Integrated 3D Audio – Players can hear details above, below and around themselves with stunning clarity thanks to 3D audio technology
- Social Screen – PS VR creates two sets of images: one for the headset and one for a TV, so everyone can join in
- Cinematic mode – Allows players to enjoy a variety of content in a large virtual screen while wearing the headset. Supported content for the Cinematic mode includes standard PS4 games and videos as well as a variety of PS4 features including Share Play and Live from PlayStation. Users will also be able to enjoy 360 degree photos and videos that are captured by devices such as omnidirectional cameras on PS VR via PS4 media player making users feel as though they are physically inside the captured scene
- PS VR Software – More than 230 developers and publishers are working on more than 160 PS VR titles. Over 50 are expected to launch by the end of the year.