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Sony VR beyond games

Sony says it will extend content for its dedicated VR headset into non-gaming areas such as TV and film, but has no plans to join the burgeoning market for smartphone-based headsets.

Andrew House, Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc’s chief executive, told Reuters he was already in talks with media production companies to explore possibilities for the PlayStation VR headset, due for release next month.

House’s gaming division has been one of Sony’s main sources of profit in recent years as sales of TV sets and other once-core electronics goods decline in the face of price competition. As smartphone gaming now encroaches on the console market, Sony has opted to seek growth through innovations such as VR. However, analysts have said non-gaming content is necessary to broaden the appeal – and profitability – of VR.

Sony’s VR headset works with its PlayStation 4 games console and will retail at a price lower than Facebook’s Oculus Rift and HTC’s Vive headsets that require more expensive personal computers to run.

But there are well over 100 smartphone-based VR headsets from 65 developers already on the market, according to Lux Research and Google will vastly add to that number with its Daydream VR platform that works with Android.

Sony’s House argued that smartphones would not be capable of achieving the highest quality VR experience. “We are focused on great gaming VR experiences,” he said. “I haven’t seen a cellphone or mobile-based VR experience that really gets our content teams excited.”

He said that beyond gaming, Sony is looking into TV and film and will also concentrate on seeking “ways of bringing much more static experiences to life” in areas such as museums and planetariums.

Sony has said it is working with more than 230 developers globally, and expects over 50 titles by the end of the year, include non-gaming content such as cartoons and music, karaoke and landscape videos.

“It might not take so long for non-gaming content to contribute fully to Sony’s VR-related business,” said analyst Yu Okazaki at Nomura Securities.

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