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.