Technology

Game's PlayStation VR demo charges spark anger

Playstation VR Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sony is not charging for demos of its new VR headset

Consumers have complained about retailer Game's decision to charge for demos of Sony's new PlayStation Virtual Reality headset.

The firm is charging £5 ($6) for 10 minutes or £15 for a half hour in-store trial.

Game said that the fee is refundable against headset orders, and enabled it to employ dedicated staff for the demo stands.

Sony is conducting a UK-wide free demo tour.

It said the decision to charge was "at the discretion" of the retailer.

Jamie Feltham from virtual reality news website Upload VR said he was blocked by Game's Twitter account after retweeting a promotional tweet from one of its stores over the weekend with the comment "this is not cool".

Image copyright Twitter / Game

"I think it's not a good practice," he told the BBC about the charges.

"I work in VR so I'm interested in what's healthy for VR - and I don't think it's healthy to attach that image of it being a premium experience at that level.

"We should encourage people to see it for free, give them an amazing experience and then let them decide for themselves whether to buy it."

'Disgraceful'

Twitter users expressed their frustration at the charges using the hashtag GameVR, which Game was also using to promote them.

"If there's one thing VR really needs, it's another paywall," tweeted game designer Mike Bithell.

"Disgraceful," said Bored...meh.

However some expressed their support.

"If you don't already own a PSVR, but might [want] to buy one, surely to goodness paying £5 to try it is much better than paying £350+ to then find out it... doesn't do what you wanted it to do," said a tweeter called KnucklePuck McDorian.

In a statement, Game said: "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."

The headset, which Game is retailing at £349.99, is not as good as some of its rivals, Mr Feltham said.

"I think it's great, it's not on the level of Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive - but for the money it's a good system," he added.

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Media captionBBC Click's Marc Cieslak reviews the PlayStation VR

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