Sony's First Virtual-Reality Set to Offer More Than 10 Titles

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A visitor holds illuminated controllers while wearing a prototype of the Sony Project Morpheus virtual reality gaming headset at the Sony Corp. exhibition stand during previews of the IFA International Consumer Electronics Show in Berlin, Germany, on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015.

A visitor holds illuminated controllers while wearing a prototype of the Sony Project Morpheus virtual reality gaming headset at the Sony Corp. exhibition stand during previews of the IFA International Consumer Electronics Show in Berlin, Germany, on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015.

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Sony Corp. said it plans to offer more than 10 titles for its virtual reality headset next year.

The PlayStation VR headset is on track for introduction in the first half of next year, Sony Computer Entertainment Chief Executive Officer Andrew House said in an interview at the Tokyo Game Show on Thursday. The unit will be priced as a new gaming platform he said, without giving numbers.

The 20-year-old PlayStation franchise is a centerpiece of Sony President Kazuo Hirai’s plan for reviving profit as the Japanese company shifts focus away from televisions and toward games, image sensors and movies. Sony is expanding its game streaming service and introducing the virtual reality headset to extend its sales lead over Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox One.

“VR rewrites the rule book on how you can create games,” House said. “You’re seeing a large amount of interest and work happening among smaller teams, because it’s possible to create something in VR that is very simple but still very magical.”

At the Tokyo Game Show, Sony is offering 10 playable titles for PlayStation VR, its head-mounted virtual reality goggles. The demos include its own RIGS: Machine Combat League, a first person robot shooter, and Square Enix Holdings Co.’s Final Fantasy XIV.

The face-covering headset completely takes over a user’s sense of sight. Its built-in display offers a resolution comparable to a high-definition TV and a 100-degree field of view, slightly more than the normal human range.

Sony jumped 4.2 percent in Tokyo trading to close at 3,224.5 yen. The shares have gained 30 percent this year, compared with 6 percent for the Topix index.

Virtual Competitors

Sony’s PlayStation VR will compete with Facebook Inc.’s Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, made by Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC Corp. and game publisher Valve.

VR gear and content will be “the next mega tech theme” and a market worth more than $60 billion in a decade, Piper Jaffray Cos. forecast in May. The all-in entry cost for the hardware will drop from about $800 to $300, with smartphone makers bundling low-cost headsets for free, according to the report. In 2017, Apple Inc. will release an all-in-one device or a headset for iPhone 7, the report speculated.

In July, Sony raised its full-year sales target for PS4 consoles to 16.5 million units from the earlier 16 million. Profit in the business more than quadrupled in the fiscal first quarter to 19.5 billion yen as sales gained 12 percent to 288.6 billion yen.

Leading Xbox

The PS4 has outsold Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox One since each model was released in late 2013. Sony will have sold 34 million machines by the end of this year, compared with 20 million Xbox Ones, according to researcher IHS Inc.

Sony will cut PS4’s price about 13 percent in Japan starting in October to maintain sales momentum, it said Tuesday. The PS4 is already $50 cheaper than the Xbox One in the U.S., House said Thursday. He said he can’t talk about plans for PS4 prices.

The console went on sale in China in March, after a 14-year ban on consoles was lifted. The government restricted Sony’s lineup to just six sanctioned games. By comparison, there were about 200 games for sale in Japan at the time of the debut. The Xbox One debuted in China a year ago with only 10 sanctioned games.

The companies must convince a generation of gamers who grew up with free-to-play titles on smartphones and computers to buy consoles that cost more than the average worker’s monthly disposable income. The market will be worth $22 billion in 2017, according to International Data Corp.

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