Now that we’ve got 4K out of the way and games are consistently blowing our collective minds with how pretty and realistic they can make a fantastical world full of dragons, brain munching zombies, or simply a plate of sushi look, the industry has set its eyes on the next innovation in gaming. And that innovation is the fully immersive tech of Virtual Reality (VR).
VR is changing the way we play videogames. It’s a cliché but strapping that headset over your eyes really does put you into the virtual space to live out your nerdiest fantasies. Ready Player One here we come.
But with so many options out there, from cardboard to PC-eating headsets, where do you start? And where is the best place to get on to this expensive, but exciting band wagon? Well to help with all that over the next few months I’ll be looking at the most prevalent VR headsets (PSVR, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive) and at what retailers are giving gamers the best deals to help make the future of gaming a reality now.
[Full disclosure, I work at CEX]
So without further ado, let’s start with Sony’s nice and simple gateway to VR gaming: PSVR.
Little bit of background to help you see which store is giving you the best deals. PSVR was announced in 2014 as the mystical Project Morpheus (do you choose the red pill or blue pill?). The system was then released with the more ‘does what it says on the tin’ title of PSVR in late 2016. Since then the PSVR has seen two iterations, with the second boasting slimmer connection cables (because that spider’s web of cables behind your TV was becoming a right nightmare), integrated headphones, and a newer processor unit that supported HDR. To actually use a PSVR all you need is a PS4, the headset, a PlayStation Camera (of which there are two versions), a Dualshock 4 controller, a little black box that connects the unit to your PS4, and as an optional side two Move controllers as some VR games support their use for that added layer of immersion. There are two versions of the Move controllers, one that can work with the PS3 and 4, and one that can only work with the PS4. Speaking of games the PSVR has had a wealth of support over the two-and-a-bit years since its release. Sony has been pumping out exclusives like the puzzle-platformer Astro Bot Rescue Mission that sees you help navigate a cute little Astro Bot through precarious situations, and the system has also shared a lot of titles with PC like the bloody brutal DOOM VFR and super stylish time warping first person shooter Superhot. From March onward you will even be getting a free VR game every month if you are a PlayStation Plus subscriber. All this effort to keep the platform alive shows, as in 2017 it was reported that the system had sold over 915,000 units, a number far beyond expectations. PSVR is the most accessible way to enter the future of gaming and isn’t short on content, but where do you buy this damn thing?
CEX is a second hand shop that sells everything from cameras to consoles to games to DVDs. While the unit you will be buying from them has been used before, every piece of tech that goes through those doors is tested before sale and comes with a two year warranty. The two year warranty doesn’t cover accidental damage (if you drop the headset), water damage (if you drop the headset in your full bath), and tampering (if after dropping your headset in your full bath you open it up yourself to try and dry out the still sparking parts). What it does cover is if anything in the system becomes faulty and is not your fault - so say one of those integrated headphones just cuts out - you will be able to bring your headset back to any CEX and either get it fixed or replaced. Hardware from CEX comes in three categories depending on their quality: Boxed is a mint condition unit that comes (you guessed it) with the box, unboxed may have a couple of scratches on the unit and does not come with the box, and discounted will have quite a lot of physical scratches. These ratings do not grade how the actual systems work and only help give you an idea of their physical appearance. To get the full package you will need to buy:
The PSVR headset, version 1 or 2. This comes with all the cables you need and the little black box.
- PSVR (Original)
Boxed = £140, Unboxed = £120, Discounted = £115
- PSVR 2 (labelled as Sony PlayStation VR CUH-ZVR2 2017 Headset on the website)
Boxed = £160, Unboxed = £150, Discounted = £145
The PlayStation camera, version 1 or 2.
- PlayStation Camera version 1 = £30
- PlayStation Camera version 2 = £40
And optionally two move controllers, one for each hand.
- Move controllers PS3 and 4 = £45 each
- Move controllers PS4 only = £58 each
GAME is a retail chain that’s primary focus is on, yep, games. They sell hardware and software alike and are the biggest UK high street name for this industry. GAME offers a wide selection of bundles for the PSVR that come with anything from an extra VR game, some chat headphones, and a two month NOW TV subscription. They also sell pre-owned headsets like CEX. GAME’s warranty policy allows you to return an item if unwanted within 30 days and on top of that you are covered for 12 months if there is a fault with the system. On the website a fault is labelled as a “manufacturer fault” and so follows the same guidelines as the warranty offered at CEX. If a fault is found after the first 30 days you cannot gain a refund but can still get your unit replaced or repaired. The new units are sold with the VR headset, all the cables you need, the little black box, and the camera. However the preowned units are sold without the camera and will need to be bought separately.
- The most expensive bundle (PlayStation VR Mega Pack with Gameware Stereo Headset and NOW TV two month subscription plus five downloadable VR games) = £314.98
- The least expensive bundle (PlayStation VR Starter Pack with NOW TV two month subscription) = £259.99
- The basic PSVR Starter Pack with no bundled in content = £259.99
- Preowned = £129.99
The PlayStation camera, version 1 or 2.
- PlayStation Camera version = £45.99 (pre-owned only on the website)
- PlayStation Camera version 2 = £48.50
And optionally two move controllers, one for each hand.
- Twin Pack PS4 only = £109.99
- Preowned PS4 only = £56.99 each
- Preowned PS3 and 4 = £55.99 each
eBay is the online marketplace that popularised the method of sitting on your sofa and waiting for your product to come to you. It is also the service that allowed you to sell your unwanted Christmas socks from the comfort of your own home too. Because there are so many listings on the website from a plethora of sources, here I am going to detail an average price for a New and Used condition unit and detail what comes with each one and then the price for any extras you may need to purchase. eBay’s warranty system is a bit looser than the two shops listed above, but on average if you have a problem with what you have bought you are able to send it back to the seller and get a full refund. If you have any problems with getting said refund, the eBay team is a helpful bunch and personally has stepped in to help me get my money back with speed and great customer service. However depending on the seller you may have to fork out the postage back to them (which could be a deep pain to your wallet for a VR sized box to travel across the country or world).
- PlayStation VR Mega Pack (with headset, camera, little black box, and five downloadable games) = £305.99 + free shipping
- PlayStation VR Starter Pack (with headset, camera, little black box, and VR Worlds) = £189.99 + £5.00 shipping
- And optionally a twin pack of move controllers = £104.99 + £3.95 shipping
- PlayStation Camera version 1 = £39.99 + free shipping
- PlayStation Camera version 2 = £44.99 + £3.95 shipping
- PSVR Full Bundle (with headset, camera, little black box, the camera, and two move controllers) = £230 + £15 shipping
- PSVR (with headset, camera and black box) = £139.99 + £8.99 shipping
- PlayStation Move controllers = £39.99 + free shipping each
- PlayStation Camera version 1 = £24.99 + £3.99 shipping
- PlayStation Camera version 2 = £36.99 + £3.99 shipping
The website that took what eBay had done and improved on the process, Amazon made the act of stationary buying/selling even smoother and simpler. Like eBay there are a whole host of sellers, so I will be listing the varying conditions and what comes with each product as I did for eBay’s showing. However with Amazon there are more businesses that use the service, with PlayStation itself selling directly through the site, so in Amazon’s new category you will be seeing a much more professional product. Warranty also works in a similar way to eBay with each seller giving varying versions. With official businesses selling through Amazon you will most likely get a manufacturer’s warranty where if anything goes wrong you can send the unit back for repairs. Otherwise you will also be allowed to send the unit back and get a refund if unwanted within a described time period, and if there are any issues there is also an Amazon team ready to step in and get you your desired refund.
- PlayStation VR Mega Pack (with headset, camera, little black box, and five downloadable games) = £299 + free shipping
- PlayStation VR Starter Pack (with headset, camera, little black box, and VR Worlds) = £244.99 + free shipping
- And optionally a twin pack of Move controllers = £114.99 + free shipping
- PlayStation Camera version 1 = £119.99 + free shipping
- PlayStation Camera version 2 = £39.99 + free shipping
- PSVR Full Bundle (with headset, camera, little black box, the camera, and two Move controllers) = £263.12 + free shipping
- PSVR (with headset, camera and black box) = £197.32 + £2.03 shipping
- And optionally a twin pack of Move controllers = £106.48 + £9.25 shipping each
- PlayStation Camera version 1 = £39.99 + £1.26 shipping
- PlayStation Camera version 2 = £24.99 + £1.26 shipping
The newest of the online markets to emerge, Facebook's online shop allows its users to sell their items to anyone else on Facebook. A much more personal service than eBay or Amazon with every seller being your average Joe and all the items available are used, or at least owned, by the seller. And unlike other online marketplaces the seller can choose how they are paid, whether that be with money or a swapping of goods. Returns on products are up to the seller, so be careful when purchasing, and if you need any more information on a product you can direct message the seller to gain all your answers.
- Complete set (with headset, camera, little black box, the camera, and two Move controllers) = £250
The PlayStation camera, version 1 or 2
- Version 1 = £20
- Version 2 = £15
And optionally two Move controllers, one for each hand
- Twin pack = £95
Thank you for reading and I hope this list of retailers, prices, and variations on the PSVR bundle helped you decipher which combo of deals will help you still have enough money to actually buy some games for this revolutionary system. Stay tuned next month for a full breakdown of the best place to buy an Oculus Rift.