MARCH 3, 2015 • The PlayStation 4 so far has cumulatively sold 20.2 million units worldwide since its fall 2013 launch through March 1. Sony Computer Ent. Inc. released the new tally during the Game developers Conference in San Francisco. As of last December, the PS4 was available at retail in over 123 countries. In related news, Sony showed an updated prototype of its Morpheus VR headset peripheral. This latest design substitutes a 5.7-inxh OLED screen for the original 5-inch LED display. The change expands the field of view and removes flicker and motion blur. In addition, the OLED display supports 120 frames-per-second instead of the previous 60 fps. The higher refresh rate provides smoother visuals. Positional tracking via the PlayStation Camera has also been improved by the addition of more sensors to the Morpheus, which reduces the latency experienced between the movement of a user’s head and the results on the headset’s screen. The physical design has also been redesigned and lightened to make it easier to wear. Sony now expects to launch Morpheus during the first half of 2016.
Impact: Sony has sold an additional 2 million units since it last disclosed sales early in January. That’s a healthy tally in the dead of winter. Although attractive pricing has undeniably helped the Xbox One sell much more competitively in the United States over the holidays, from a worldwide perspective we don’t see Microsoft’s system overtaking the PlayStation 4 anytime soon. The Sony console developed too commanding a lead in its first year of release and the company has shown no substantial errors in strategy or content sufficient to scuttle its position. Our primary concern is not the PS4 but Sony’s more ambitious consumer plans for the system via products such as PlayStation TV and PlayStation Now. While we admit it is still early in their life cycles neither device seems to be gaining traction, which means SCE may be doomed to its niche among the core gaming audience for the long-term. Which leads us to the latest Project Morpheus. We are quite impressed with Sony’s early efforts to make the headset more comfortable to wear. Improvements in the overall technology where expected, yet where DFC sees a major hurdle for these VR devices is in how much friction there is to using them. Sony seems to understand this challenge, and while the VR experience may not be for everyone, the easier it is to use the technology will pay dividends later. As an active interface VR is more compelling than 3D was, but many of the issues for consumers will be similar. Where we think Sony also has the right approach for Morpheus is promoting the device as an option as was the case with the PlayStation Camera. Consumers will gravitate to the gaming experience they desire and will shy away from being forced into all-in-one purchases. DFC expects Project Morpheus and Oculus Rift to be niche devices at best, yet it is encouraging to see Sony working diligently on the industrial design to make its headset as attractive a consumer product as possible.