If PSVR 2's production has been paused, these are the big reasons why

PSVR 2 Review Image showing the headset, and lens adjustment scrolling wheel on the top left of the headset
(Image credit: Future)

According to new reports, production of PSVR 2 has been paused because Sony has a surplus of stock that hasn't been sold. Whenever these "poor VR sales" stories come up, it leads people to question whether this niche form of gaming is actually appealing in the first place, but I think the issue goes a lot deeper than that. 

The best VR headsets have always been a niche accessory for gaming. They certainly don't sell as well as PCs, laptops, or consoles, but they've carved out a large enough portion for themselves that they're an established technology that's definitely on the rise.

As someone who reviews these headsets for a living, and covers the ins and outs of the market, the backlog of PSVR 2 stock that's reportedly led to Sony pausing production doesn't seem new. These headlines dooming the VR sector come up every few months, but in my opinion, they almost always point to strategic slip-ups rather than a lack of appeal. There certainly aren't big problems with the headset itself, as I found in our PSVR 2 review, it's got the chops to take on any headset currently on the market.

GamesRadar graphic background with the PSVR 2 and HTC Vive Pro 2 squared up with one another

(Image credit: Future)

Some people will never have an interest in playing VR games, and that's fine, but they seem like a vocal majority to me. The people who hear headlines like this and say "We told you so, nobody likes VR" seem to forget that this is still an emerging part of the gaming market (that's projected to keep growing, thanks to the likes of Apple, Meta, and Sony) and a technology that is only going to improve with time.

It's worth stating that the Bloomberg report this story stems from can be taken with a pinch of salt as well. While Bloomberg's sources are famously strong and can be trusted, they are unnamed in this instance, and are just "people that are familiar with the company's plans". Sony has not confirmed or commented on the issue (although in fairness, they wouldn't want to confirm something like this).

In any case, there are common complaints I see from PSVR 2 owners and potential buyers online, and I think a lot of them could have been avoided by Sony. Hindsight is 2020, but let's have a look at what could have done better to avoid slower-than-expected sales.

"Where are the bundles?"

PSVR 2 Gran Turismo 7 bundle hero image

(Image credit: Future)

One of the major things that made the first PSVR so appealing back in 2016 was the bundles you could get with it. From launch, you could get the PlayStation VR Starter Pack that came with the headset, PlayStation camera, camera adaptor, and PlayStation VR Worlds. For the all-in buyer, there was also the PSVR Mega Pack, which came with the same accessories but additional games as well. 

We are one full trip around the sun with PSVR 2 on the shelves, and the only bundle we have for it is still the Horizon Call of the Mountain one. 

The bundles for the first headset were really inviting for newcomers, they offered people who had never tried VR before the opportunity to get the jaw-dropping demo experience that they needed to convince them that this was a viable way to play games. The games included in them had a focus on fun, they were things you could whip out for the family like the first days of the Nintendo Wii. Horizon: Call of the Mountain is an intense, serious single-player game that only really has appeal for the person playing. High-fidelity action and adventure in an established PlayStation franchise is appealing to hardcore fans, especially since the game itself aims to rival Half-Life Alyx.

On the other hand, not everyone who's interested in buying PSVR 2 is looking for that experience - there's still a large proportion of people who have never tried VR and would benefit from a more whimsical game from the word go. 

But of course, it's a bit of a chicken and egg situation, because to have more PSVR 2 bundles and deals, you need more games.  

"Where are the games?"

Aiming your bow in Horizon Call of the Mountain

(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Now, in fairness, PSVR 2's game library has been growing since its launch, and in my opinion, it's built to a strong offering that doesn't have the range of the Meta Quest store but does have the quality to compete with it.

Exclusive first-party games have felt lacking for PSVR 2, but in recent years, the same can be true of the PS5. What are the big studios working on, and why has there been such a massive gap in the release line-up?  Even outwith the exclusive first-party scene, there are some tactical misplays on Sony's part that could have made all the difference to on-the-fence shoppers.

Again, look at the first PSVR for comparison. That headset had access to free demo discs, offering people the chance to try out a VR experience before buying. 

Similarly, the first headset got PSVR games lumped into PlayStation Plus, which is something the company has seemingly forgotten to do for this one, despite having the opportunity to push one of its new PS+ tiers in the process. The only monthly free game PSVR 2 owners have had is Humanity, which feels like a total one-off looking back now. 

The Meta Quest 3 has Meta Quest+, a PlayStation Plus-like subscription service that gives users a consistent drip feed of experiences without making them pay for each title individually. The majority of PSVR 2 games cost upwards of $20, which is a tough sell to appeal to console gamers who will realistically want to play normal PS5 games first and foremost. These gamers are probably already paying for PS+ anyway, and with big AAA releases costing more than $60, it's no wonder PSVR 2 owners are frustrated at the lack of games to play. 

It must be said; backwards compatibility would have been a massive win too. 

"Where's the PC support?"

PSVR 2 next to a gaming PC

(Image credit: Future / Duncan Robertson)

We got the news last month that PC support is being worked on for PSVR 2 to try and broaden its appeal, and I think this is a great move from Sony. Nonetheless, the company has been moving more and more of its gaming hardware and software into the PC market in recent years, so it begs the question, why wasn't PC support on the cards from the beginning? 

While PSVR sold well for a first crack at the market, surely Sony could have seen that the VR section of the gaming Venn diagram was small enough that locking buyers into PS5 ownership was going to hurt rather than help. In the PC VR market, there's been a growing gap for new gaming headsets, since the big players like the HTC Vive Pro 2 and Valve Index are all years old at this stage.

"Where's the fight?"

Meta Quest 3 review header image of the headset next to its controllers on a gaming desk

(Image credit: Future / Duncan Robertson)

Of course, the big elephant in the room here is that while PSVR 2 is a cracking device, it's face stiff competition in its first year. $550 is a really decent price in within the market for the features it offers, but Sony needs to fight harder to make it seem more appealing against the likes of the Meta Quest 3, and now Apple Vision Pro as well. 

PC support will go a long way for this, but let's hope that arrives soon, because with words on the wind that Samsung is working on its own standalone headset, the competition is only going to get harder from here.

Sticking to this reality for now? Check out the best gaming PCs, the best gaming TVs, and the best gaming laptops.

Duncan Robertson
Hardware Editor

Ever since playing Journey at the age of 15, I’ve been desperate to cover video games for a living. After graduating from Edinburgh Napier University with a degree in Journalism, I contributed to the Scottish Games Network and completed an Editorial Internship over at Expert Reviews. Besides that, I’ve been managing my own YouTube channel and Podcast for the last 7 years. It’s been a long road, but all that experience somehow landed me a dream job covering gaming hardware. I’m a self-confessing PlayStation fanboy, but my experience covering the larger business and developer side of the whole industry has given me a strong knowledge of all platforms. When I’m not testing out every peripheral I can get my hands on, I’m probably either playing tennis or dissecting game design for an upcoming video essay. Now, I better stop myself here before I get talking about my favourite games like HUNT: Showdown, Dishonored, and Towerfall Ascension. Location: UK Remote