Why Is PS4’s Camera So Unexpectedly Popular? – Forbes
During a presentation at GDC this week, Sony’s Chris Norden revealed a piece of rather interesting information. While it’s common knowledge that the PS4 is selling extremely well with around 6 million units sold worldwide, also faring surprisingly well is its optional peripheral, the PlayStation Camera.
Norden says that the camera is “severely supply constrained” at the moment, and is sold out in a large number of retailers. Further surprising is that the camera has a 15% attach rate to the PS4, which translates to about 900,000 units sold.
These numbers seem extremely high, and even threw Sony for a loop judging by their lack of supply. I’m trying to wrap my head around why the device has been so unexpectedly popular, especially given that there isn’t all that much it’s used for with the PS4 as of yet. Why might this be happening?
People Want a PS4 Kinect
For as much flak as Microsoft has taken for bundling the Xbox One with the Kinect, subsequently upping the price by $100, the system has sold well and many are finding they like the voice/motion functionality of the device, even if there are few games that use it as of yet. Perhaps a certain subset of PS4 owners didn’t want to be left behind and decided that $60 was worthwhile to have a roughly equivalent system. The PlayStation camera mimics much of the functionality of the Kinect, and can register voice and motion input, and also perform neat tricks like facial recognition sign-in. Reports are that it doesn’t do these things quite as well as the more advanced Kinect 2.0, but that may not bother Sony fans.
People Really Want to Try Out Playroom
This seems like a less likely answer, but the AR mess-around minigame collection, the Playroom, got a lot of press ahead of the release of the system. It comes free with every PS4, but it requires the camera to work. I can see maybe families with kids who really wanted to try out the Playroom that they saw advertised, but were disappointed when they couldn’t play around with it right out of the box. And so a camera was purchased.
People Want to Stream Better
Perhaps the best thing the PlayStation Camera can do right now is allow a player to broadcast their face while streaming their gameplay via Twitch on the PS4. Nearly every popular stream out there, both PC and console, is accompanied by a camera shot of the player, and it creates better engagement with strangers if one is trying to become a popular streamer, or better interaction with friends, if that’s who’s watching. Picture-in-picture gameplay with a friend if you both have cameras could be a solid reason to pick up the device.
People Are Expecting Big Things in the Future
We just heard that Sony’s Project Morpheus VR system will use the PlayStation Camera, so it’s apparent they have big plans for the device going forward. Perhaps this subset of early camera adopters realized that even though there isn’t all that much going on with the camera at present, Sony was bound to use it more in the future, and perhaps it was worthwhile to pick one up ahead of time. That’s rather forward thinking, and I think this group would overlap with the “PS4 Kinect” crowd mentioned earlier.
But really, I’m not convinced even all of these items add up to the 900,000 sold, 15% attach rate that’s causing the camera to sell out. If there was some recent release that used the camera as a key part of gameplay, I might understand, but to use it for a singular game, a weaker form of Kinect or a streaming tool all don’t seem like things that would account for these blockbuster numbers. But I can’t think of any other explanations.
So, if you have a PlayStation Camera for PS4, why did you buy it?