Sony to Release PlayStation 4-Compatible VR Headset in October

Poised to Take Early Lead in Year Zero of Virtual Reality Industry

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Sony shares reversed declines in Tokyo trading after the company announced a release date for its virtual-reality headset and unveiled exclusive games for the PlayStation 4 console, including Batman and Spider-Man titles.

The PlayStation VR will go on sale in the U.S. on Oct. 13 with 50 titles available by the end of the year, Sony said at the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles on Monday. The VR library will eventually include an exclusive Batman game, Capcom's "Resident Evil 7," Square Enix Holdings's "Final Fantasy XV" and a Star Wars title. Sony shares, which had declined earlier, were up 0.6%.

Sony's PlayStation VR is poised to take an early lead in what is considered year zero for the virtual-reality industry. At $399, its about half the price of the $799 HTC Vive, developed by HTC and game publisher Valve. Facebook priced its Oculus Rift at $599. While those headsets offer higher quality graphics, they also require high-end computers to run. Sony's device was designed to work with the PlayStation 4, which 40 million people already own.

"Our mission is to make PlayStation the best place to play games," Andrew House, head of the company's games business, said at the event. "This E3 marks one of the strongest lineups in PlayStation history."

"The Last Guardian," a game originally planned for PS4's predecessor console, will go on sale Oct. 25. Sony also said it is working on an exclusive title with "Metal Gear Solid" creator Hideo Kojima and announced development of a new installment in the "God of War" series.

The company is looking to cement its lead over Microsoft's Xbox One and Nintendo's Wii U consoles, which have sold 21 million and 12.8 million units respectively. Sony, which plans to introduce a more powerful version of the PS4 code-named PlayStation Neo, forecast total console sales will climb 13% this fiscal year to 20 million units.

Microsoft earlier this week introduced a new, smaller Xbox gaming console for sale in August that features 4K Ultra HD video and a streamlined controller. It also announced a powerhouse new device planned for the holiday season next year, called Project Scorpio for now, featuring a graphic processor that can perform calculations at a speed of 6 teraflops. The company is developing HoloLens augmented-reality goggles.

Nintendo predicted in April that Wii U sales will fall to 800,000 units this fiscal year, from 3.26 million. The company said it is also exploring virtual-reality products, although no concrete plans exist as yet. Its new NX gaming device will debut in March 2017.

-- Bloomberg News

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