HTC Vive now costs $599/£599/€699

We all know that Oculus has slashed down the price for its Oculus Rift CV1, offering the bundle Oculus Rift + Oculus Touch at only $399. The “Summer of Rift” initiative has caused a flooding of Rift purchases, with lots of people going to Reddit each day to announce that they’ve bought a brand new Rift and they’re having lots of fun playing games like Robo Recall. We were all expecting the reaction of HTC, but they continued telling that they sell a high-quality product and that quality has a price and that they were happy with their sales. Well, it seems that this held true until today, when HTC has cut down its prices, too.

Oculus price cut has been surely applied because before of that, its sales where half of the Vive ones.

SuperData research VR market
Sales of virtual reality headsets according to SuperData (Image by Wall Street Journal)

During this Summer of Rift, lots of people exploited the big discount to buy a new Oculus VR headset and all VR communities have welcomed a lot of new users. $399 for such a high-end system like the Rift, offering room-scale and ergonomic controllers, is a fantastic price. The only limit to a more widespread adoption is now the price of a VR-ready PC, that still requires at least $1000 to have a good graphics card.

Oculus this way has not only incremented its sales but also ruined the strategy of Microsoft that was planning to rule the world offering cheap headsets. The price of these devices won’t be that much less than the price of the Rift, with the Rift being a better VR system.

On the other part, the Vive still cost $799. Vive is a great VR system, with lots of customizations and with the best outside-in tracking solution out there. But, frankly speaking, it offers an experience that is almost the same of the Rift, with the Rift having the advantage of the Oculus Touch, that offer a better hand emulation than the Vive VR controllers. And it had no sense that Vive cost twice than its competitor.

Choosing between two similar products when one costs twice the other, no one would buy the more expensive one, unless it has an apple on its cover. So, I think that Vive sales were performing quite bad in the last times. And this is why HTC has just decided to cut its price by $200 and now it costs $599.

Of course, Vive has another story to tell for this price slash. As they told to UploadVR:

We plan out our pricing and margins and life cycle planning a year plus in advance. We planned a lot of price cuts and flash sales with events through the year that proved successful, but now as we go into the second selling season for holiday it’s time to bring the price down permanently and open up to a larger audience…This is not to clear inventory or set the stage for something else

Honestly speaking, I don’t believe that. For sure they had a strategy for promotions and sales, but if you’re a smart company you have to adapt to what your competitors do… and in this case, they couldn’t avoid adapting to Oculus price strategy for the above reasons.

So the Vive now costs $599 in the US, £599 in UK and €699 in Europe (damn taxes…). Still more expensive than the Rift, but no more THAT expensive. Let’s consider that at the end of the promotion “Summer of Rift”, the Rift will be priced at $499, so the Vive will only be $100 more than the Facebook’s headset. Considering the better reputation it has among innovators (because of the open sourceness of its SDK, its customizability and the less aggressive exclusive strategy) and the dominant position on the market, a $100 higher price can have sense. I do not agree with them since IMHO it should be priced the same, but Vive wants to continue offering its products as “high quality for a high price” one, so may have sense to keep the price a bit higher. They can still lower it in the future if this price cut doesn’t prove to be successful enough.

Vive virtual reality price cut €699
Vive costs €699 here in Italy… sigh

It is curious the fact that the promotion starts when the Summer of Rift promotion should have ended (maybe they planned this one year plus in advance, too…). Unluckily for them, Oculus has extended its promotion by a few weeks (if you have subscribed to my newsletter, you should have read the news) and so the Rift is still $200 cheaper than its main competitor. Again, considering the fact that most SteamVR games support the Rift and that the headsets are pretty equivalent, I would still buy the Rift at this moment. Some Vive users complain about the fact that this promotion doesn’t include the Deluxe Audio Strap (that thing that integrates headphones into the Vive), so to have an equivalent experience with the Rift, an additional $100 have to be included (but some Vive fans could say that to have a proper room scale experience on Rift, a third Constellation sensor has to be purchased, too…).

What Vive bundle includes for $599 is:

  • Headset
  • VR controllers
  • Lighthouse stations
  • Free code for Richie’s Plank Experience
  • Free code for Everest VR
  • Free code for Tilt Brush
  • One-month subscription to Viveport (with 5 downloadable apps)

Anyway, we’ll see what this price cut will mean for Vive sales. Of course, all of this holds only for the Consumer version of the Vive headset. Business edition is still priced at $1200: on the business side, Vive is far superior to the Rift, because it offers a clear licensing model, a tracking technology that is suitable for arcades and the Vive Trackers that lets arcade owners include props in their games or even track all the body of the users.

Yesterday I also found the news that another headset, OSVR by Razer, has had a price cut of 40% and now it is ridiculously cheap. But OSVR is having lots of issues and it still doesn’t have true room scale and proper VR controllers, so don’t know if this promotion will help this headset to survive.

Oculus price cut has created a great domino effect into the VR ecosystem that is being beneficial to all us users. And in the next months, a lot of things are going to change:

  • Microsoft cheap and user-friendly headsets will be out (by end of this year)
  • Standalone headsets, like Intel Alloy or Vive Standalone, will be out (by end of this year)
  • Apple will reveal its iPhone8 and will distribute ARKit to all iOS devices (this autumn)
  • Vive SteamVR tracking 2.0 will become a thing. Vive Knuckles controllers will be distributed. Maybe a Vive 2 headset will be announced/leaked? (by end of this year)
  • Oculus Connect will surely announce something cool about Oculus, like Oculus Santa Cruz (this autumn)
  • Facebook will reveal a super-cheap $200 standalone headset (beginning of next year)
virtual reality Vive Knuckles new information
Upcoming Vive Knuckles controllers. First feedbacks about them are very positive… (Image from Cloudhead games)

I think that VR now is like a pressure cooker ready to explode and in the next months, we’ll see great evolutions in the VR environment. In fact, some people think that these big discounts on VR devices are due to the fact that both Oculus and Vive are already thinking to the v2 of their devices. And I think that they’re not that far away from the truth: Vive has already announced the Knuckles, that are controllers that work with a new 2.0 tracking technology. And when they’ll start selling the SteamVR 2.0 Lighthouse stations, that are not compatible with current Vive headsets, they will be forced to reveal a new Vive…

All of this could lead to the widespread of VR that we all wish by 2019. I would really hope so, I hate to continue repeating to people that VR isn’t a fad…

 

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Skarredghost

AR/VR developer, startupper, zombie killer. Sometimes I pretend I can blog, but actually I’ve no idea what I’m doing.

I tried to change the world with my startup Immotionar, offering super-awesome full body virtual reality, but now the dream is over. But I’ve still not waken up…