Virtual reality arcades are becoming increasingly important as they allow consumers to try VR out before they buy and Sony's plans for Japan could hint at a larger strategy.
The next step in Sony’s plans for PlayStation VR involves rolling out to arcades and possibly even amusement parks in Japan, according to a report on Wednesday.
The Wall Street Journal reported Sony is looking to court “entertainment facilities” throughout Japan, quoting “people familiar with the matter.” Sony’s reasoning is apparently that PlayStation VR has been “slower-than-expected” to take root among consumers, and a commercial rollout could help with exposure. This report comes after official news from Sony last month that the company had set up a “location-based entertainment” unit within Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE), the arm responsible for PlayStation.
Polygon reported that virtual reality arcades have become an important part of VR’s growth toward becoming a mainstream entertainment technology, starting with VR arcades in China and expanding throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. The bit about PlayStation VR’s slow acceptance by consumers is up for debate, however, as SIE Global Chief Executive Andrew House reportedly told the New York Times in February that Sony’s current biggest challenge regarding PlayStation VR is simply meeting demand. Further, it is reportedly well on its way to a goal of selling 1 million PSVR headsets by mid-April, with more than 900,000 moved in February.
In February, Digital Trends visited the first IMAX VR center in Los Angeles. The center is half arcade, half movie theater, as visitors can purchase tickets for individual virtual reality experiences or bulk tickets that include multiple different experiences. The IMAX VR Center features HTC Vive and Starbreeze StarVR headsets, and IMAX plans to expand further into other cities and with new partnerships.
Sony has yet to comment on the report that PlayStation VR is headed to arcades and beyond, or whether its plans in Japan could extend to the west as well.