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Sony climbs after pricing virtual reality headset below rivals'

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - 10:44

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Sony Corp climbed the most in a week in Tokyo after unveiling a virtual-reality headset priced significantly below rival devices, fueling investor optimism about the Japanese company's foray into next-generation gaming.

[TOKYO] Sony Corp climbed the most in a week in Tokyo after unveiling a virtual-reality headset priced significantly below rival devices, fueling investor optimism about the Japanese company's foray into next-generation gaming.

The shares rose as much as 4.2 per cent to 2,912 yen (S$35.40) as of 10.41 am in Tokyo, heading for their biggest gain since March 10, while the Nikkei 225 Stock Average declined 0.4 per cent.

The Playstation VR goes on sale October for US$399, the company said Tuesday at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. That's about half the price tag on the US$799 HTC Vive, developed by HTC Corp and game publisher Valve. Facebook Inc priced its Oculus Rift at US$599. While those headsets may offer higher quality graphics, they also require high-end computers to run. In contrast, Sony's device will be available to the more than 36 million people who already own a PlayStation 4.

"It's a really compelling price that aims for mainstream market share and this is key for VR platform success," said Damian Thong, an analyst at Macquarie Group Ltd in Tokyo. "Sony probably thinks of PlayStation VR as a broader ecosystem push, something that not only will sell more PS4s, but will also encourage users to upgrade to PS5 in the future." There'll be more than 50 games running off Sony's system by the end of the year, the Tokyo-based company said. Electronic Arts Inc is making a version of Star Wars Battlefront for the headset, although Sony declined to say whether that game would be among those coming out this year.

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Oculus Rift headsets begin shipping to consumers on March 28, marking the beginning of a new commercial era for virtual-reality gaming. Using the headset requires a powerful personal computer that can cost more than US$1,000. There are only about 13 million computers worldwide that have the required capabilities, according to Nvidia Corp, the largest maker of computer-graphics chips.

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