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Vive Developer Kits to be Free At First

When Valve and HTC revealed the Vive virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display earlier in the month, the pair promised to start shipping developer kits this spring, which doesn’t leave much time. Studios will soon be able to sign up for a kit over on an official Vive website, but specific dates on shipping are yet to be detailed. When it comes to price however, it appears that Valve has confirmed that successful applicants for a Vive developer kit will be receiving the device for free, at least at first.

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Company spokesperson Doug Lombardi has confirmed as much to Ars Technica, stating that developers both ‘big or small’ will be in the running for free kits after signing up on a new site that should be ‘coming soon’. Lombardi then confirmed that approved developers will get a kit for free ‘at least initially’. Kits will be shipping later this spring, but Lombardi didn’t comment on just how big a window studios are looking at to qualify for a free kit, nor how much it might cost when the free kits are gone.

This is a surprising move given that Oculus VR, creator of the Oculus Rift HMD, has charged $300 USD and $350 for its two respective development kits (DK1 and DK2) in the past. The company has made the kit widely available to just about anyone willing to pay that price, and has shipped over 100,000 devices in total. A free Vive is certainly an attractive proposition, but will Valve and HTC be able to maintain the same kind of availability that Oculus VR does with demand for a free developer kit?

Either way, the company’s reasoning behind the move is obvious, given that the pair hope to launch the Vive in time for holiday 2015 and will need strong software support from the start. VRFocus will continue to follow Valve and HTC’s progress with the Vive, reporting back with any further updates.