A representative for GAME has issued the below statement in response:
“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.”
Sony's PlayStation VR headset was released last week and the launch has been a successful one so far, notably managing to top Japan's hardware chart in its debut week. Needless to say, consumer interest in Sony's new headset is high at the moment, which bodes well for the pre-release predictions that it could potentially sell 1.4 million units in 2016. For those who are still on the fence on whether to buy the PlayStation VR, headsets are currently available across stores worldwide for customers to try out before making a decision. But for those consumers who live in the UK, we suggest that you avoid the trying the headsets on display at certain GAME retail stores.
Just recently, the UK retailer launched a controversial PlayStation VR promotion whereby customers can try out Sony's new headset at its stores - but only after paying a fee. Customers are asked to book a time and date for a test run before being charged a fee, which varies according to the length of the demonstration. A 10 minute demonstration will cost £5 (USD$6), a 20 minute demo will cost £10 (USD$12), and a 30 minute test will set customers back £15 (USD$18).
As for what customers get for their paid demonstration, a GAME staff will provide a short introductory brief on the PlayStation VR before it is fired up. Once the demo begins, customers are required to (according to GAME's small print:
- Remain seated at all times and until headset is removed;
- Close eyes and raise your hand if you become uncomfortable and want to stop the demo;
- Remain calm and minimise erratic head and limb movements;
- Stop moving if GAME staff place a hand on your shoulder; and
- Not touch, remove or interfere with the headset or connected equipment except as directed by GAME staff.
Needless to say, a number of people are quite unhappy at this controversial promotion, and some have deemed this to be exploitative and even a breach of software EULA.
There is a caveat to this promotion - if a customer wants to buy the PlayStation VR, the paid fee will be deducted from the headset's deposit, but this is only available immediately after the completion of the demo. Given that there were headset shortages dating back a few months ago, some customers may not have any other option but to go through GAME's offer.
As unsavory as GAME's promotion is, it doesn't take away any of the headset's positive qualities. Game Rant reviewed the PlayStation VR and found that despite a few understandable teething issues, it is a solid piece of technology that proves that virtual reality is here to stay.
What do you think about GAME's promotion? Is it exploitation or otherwise? Let us know in the comments below.
PlayStation VR is available now.