Over the course of 2016 Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) has promoted its PlayStation VR by staging numerous demos at events and through various tours. For UK consumers these have included EGX, Insomnia58 and the Future of Play Tour. Apart from paying to get into the events themselves all the demos have been free, gamers just needed to book an allocated time slot via the trypsvr.com website. If you’ve not yet tried the head-mounted display (HMD) several GAME stores do have demo stations available, but there’s an issue, its not free.
The videogame specialist retailer launched a demo promotion last week, with stores encouraging customers to come in via their individual Twitter accounts. What unusual is the fact that the stores are actually charging for the demos, with a range of prices depending on the amount of time customers wish to play.
— GAME Cyfarthfa (@GAMECyfarthfa) October 22, 2016
For a ten minute demo the cost is £5 GBP, at 20 minute demo is £10 while a 30 minute session is £15. Customers will need to book a time and date, providing their name and contact details. While its very unusual for companies to charge for demos there are a couple of caveats to the promotion. Firstly if a deposit has been put down on a PlayStation VR and customers provide proof of the deposit, then the 30 minute demo is free. Also if a demo has been paid for and afterwards that person then wants to buy the headset, the fee is deducted off the deposit.
While those two last additions may sound fine in theory the news has naturally been met with a backlash on Twitter. Demos in whatever format have always been free, the whole point is to encourage people to sample a product, and if they like it to then purchase it. You wouldn’t expect to walk into a store and have to pay for an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 demo.
PlayStation VR costs £349.99 just for the headset, you’ll still need to buy the PlayStation Camera on top of that (if you don’t already have one) to make the system work. There’s also the PlayStation Move controllers to consider, whilst not an essential purchase – most titles work with the DualShock4 controllers – they will be needed for certain videogames so do double check.
VRFocus will continue its coverage of PlayStation VR, reporting back with any further updates.
UPDATE: Since VRFocus posted the article GAME has issued the following statement: “Our pay-to-play PlayStation VR experience is a GAME-led initiative. The cost to use the in-store PS4 pod is entirely refundable for customers that go on to buy either the headset or a PS4 console. The payment allows us to ensure that we have dedicated staff manning the PlayStation VR pods who have been fully trained to adhere to best practice demo guidelines. The demos are intended to give our customers access to one of the most exciting new gaming technologies in 2016 and provide them with the opportunity to get a feel for VR before they commit to buy.”