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Sony on VR launch: Try it, you'll like it ... and buy it

The key to expanding the realm of virtual reality is to let consumers experience it, Sony's Shawn Layden said Thursday as the company released its PlayStation VR.

That's why the company has set up VR demonstrations for 300,000 people at partner stores like Best Buy and GameStop since its June announcement of the product launch.

"A TV commercial, a website, an app — nothing can begin to get you to understand exactly what the majesty of VR can be unless you try it yourself,"
Layden told CNBC's "Squawk Alley."

Layden, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, said that while the PlayStation VR headset is automatically compatible with all PlayStation 4 models, more than a third of consumers who signed up for demos did not own a PlayStation 4.

"They were just interested by what virtual reality is, and we think we can bring them all into the family with today's launch," he said.

He added that the compatibility factor with the PlayStation 4 serves to "cast a very broad net" into Sony's pool of customers and prospective buyers.

Layden said he was excited about entering the virtual reality marketplace and joining the ranks of Facebook's Oculus Rift and HTC's Vive.

"All this is happening now in 2016," he said. "I think we're seeing a great confluence of the technologies and the creativity behind that. 2017's going to be amazing."

The PlayStation VR headset went on sale Thursday at a price of $399.