Consumers in the UK today voiced their displeasure over being charged money to demo the new Playstation VR headset.
Sony has recently launched a UK-wide free demo tour of it’s new VR headset. Though the word “free” seems to be somewhat misleading in this case. GAME, the retailer hosting the country-wide tour, has opted to charge potential consumers for getting a demo of the new technology.
In order to be allowed to even try the headset potential consumers must book a time and a date and pay an up front fee of $6.00 (USD) for each ten minutes spent trying out the system. Those who put down a deposit to buy the $380 system and are able to provide proof of their deposit were entitled to a free thirty minutes in which they could try out their purchase.
According to a response released earlier today by GAME, the fee is supposedly to cover the costs of GAME maintaining “expert staff” at the in-store demonstration and those who choose to buy the headset will have their demo payment deducted from the purchase amount.
Our pay-to-play PlayStation VR experience is a GAME-led initiative. The cost to use the in-store PS4 pod is entirely refundable for customers that go on to buy either the headset or a PS4 console. The payment allows us to ensure that we have dedicated staff manning the PlayStation VR pods who have been fully trained to adhere to best practice demo guidelines.
The demos are intended to give our customers access to one of the most exciting new gaming technologies in 2016 and provide them with the opportunity to get a feel for VR before they commit to buy.
It goes without saying that this has spawned a degree of irritation and criticism from both consumers and others within the gaming community. Jamie Feltham of the virtual reality news website Upload VR has said that he was blocked by GAME for retweeting one of GAME’s promotional tweets with the comment “Not Cool.” Jamie is quoted as saying to a BBC reporter ” I think it’s not a good practice.” His sentiments have been echoed on Twitter by gamers and game developers alike.
In a statement, Sony has stated clearly that the decision to charge for the demo was solely a choice of the retailer and had nothing at all to do with them.