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Well, Sony has finally put its cards on the table in terms of Virtual Reality. Following Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive's release details the PlayStation bosses confirmed an October arrival for its headset, at $399.99 for the basic offering. The PS4 add-on is arriving after its biggest rivals and, predictably, at a lower price.

PlayStation VR was originally expected in the first half of this year, and its eventual pricepoint was widely predicted ahead of time. While its rivals in the market target those with powerful PCs and enthusiasts with a lot of cash to spend, Sony's option is technically less sophisticated but is far more accessible. It arrives at a cost pretty much in line with a premium new generation console, though in this case it's actually a very pricey - but major - accessory for current-gen hardware. With the PS4 romping away as the leading home console in sales this generation, Sony is capitalising on its sizeable userbase to pitch PlayStation VR as the most reasonably priced, game-centric VR option of the year.

Of course our buddies over at Push Square are all over the accessory right now and writing about it a great deal, but the release details do somewhat up the ante within the mainstream gaming space. Had PS VR launched in early Summer, sold out its pre-order allocation and then steadily moved on as the year progressed, it would have suited the normal gaming market rather nicely. Yet an October release drops it in the all-important 'Holiday' shopping window, with all of the consequences that brings.

Samsung's Gear VR is a cheaper approach to VR, but needs a compatible phone
Samsung's Gear VR is a cheaper approach to VR, but needs a compatible phone

To quickly return to the 'Nintendo and VR' topic, that's something we've discussed before, including this editorial arguing that the technology doesn't yet suit the big N. More recently Carnegie Mellon University professor and game designer Jesse Schell predicted that Nintendo may be looking into VR for the future, namely when the technology has transitioned more to small and easily mobile solutions - somewhat like the existing Samsung Gear VR but on another level. Of course we don't know fully what Nintendo's intentions are in this space, but there's been little indication that it's due to enter the sector quickly.

In any case, back to that Holiday PS VR release. On the one hand limited supply and pre-orders selling out seem likely to limit the impact of Sony's hardware in stores; the VR space has typically, so far, attracted eager fans snapping up pre-order stock within minutes of it going live. Sony will likely try to supplement stock to have some in-store units on day one, but we shouldn't expect them to be sitting on shelves for long (if at all). It's a big play, though, especially as it'll come not only with a range of launch window games but also support a cinematic mode to provide - essentially - off-TV play with existing PS4 games. Macquarie Securities analyst Ben Schachter has already spoken of Microsoft needing to find an answer else Sony could "utterly dominate the rest of the console cycle".

Hardware launches need hype and momentum, which stalled too soon with Wii U
Hardware launches need hype and momentum, which stalled too soon with Wii U

That's not a surprising analysis at this time, and we're yet to see how it'll all play out. For Nintendo though the timing of PS VR is something to consider - with so many (including Macquarie Securities in a previous report) expecting a form of NX to launch before the end of 2016, we could have a potential clash in which NX is arriving alongside another high-profile piece of hardware.

PS VR is estimated in some quarters to perhaps sell around eight million units over the next two years, so naturally Nintendo will be aiming to do far better with its next hardware - they're not comparable products, in that sense. The issue is that a hefty VR launch not only stretches the wallets of some that may have eyed up a shiny new piece of Nintendo kit as a Holiday treat, but can also hog headlines and online chatter. The original benefit of a mid-gen launch for Nintendo (as NX will be perceived) would have been landing as something new in clear waters - with Sony's VR gadget now arriving later than planned it could be fighting over headlines, social media trends and public attention with Nintendo's new system.

The hope, naturally, is that Nintendo's concept will wow people to the extent that it can stand up to and exceed the Virtual Reality hype - it's also likely to be a device to target as wide a demographic as possible, as is the big N's way. It may also come in at less than the 'real' cost of Sony's headset, which also needs a PlayStation Camera and - optionally - Move controllers.

The once mighty Kinect
The once mighty Kinect

What will be interesting is to see the volume of existing PS4 owners that take the plunge into Virtual Reality, and how long-lasting Sony's VR will be as a success story. The Kinect was a huge sales success on Xbox 360, but perceptions around the device declined to the point that its original bundling with the Xbox One (and the higher resulting price) did much to give the PS4 powerful early momentum. Will Sony's VR enjoy the same incredible demand (and related media attention) as Kinect did, regardless of its long term prospects? If it does, its Holiday launch could suck oxygen away from Nintendo and, of course, Microsoft and Xbox One.

Beyond the will-they-won't-they of a 2016 NX release, Nintendo will have key releases like a new Legend of Zelda title to sell in the Holidays. We doubt there were many smiles in Nintendo's boardroom when Sony's grand project in accessible VR slipped from a Spring / Summer arrival to the peak-market madness of October.

The timing's not great - the hope is that Nintendo's as-yet-unrevealed step into the next generation (if it does come this year) will have the appeal and buzz to win the public's attention, even if it does end up launching in the same window as a major Virtual Reality device. Nintendo can ill-afford a slow start with its next system.