The reveal of the HTC Vive price and bundle deal has taken many by surprise. Though expected prior to pre-orders being opened later this month, the announcement prior to Mobile World Congress (MWC) this week may have been a carefully orchestrated plan to take the sheen off Samsung and Oculus VR’s upcoming Gear VR announcements. However, the most surprising part of the announcement is just how relatively low that price point is.
“I am very excited as I already received the [HTC Vive] Pre, it’s my first Consumer HMD version I own. $799: That’s a very fair price for what you get. The whole thing is solid, nothing feels cheap. It’s all in there,” stated OlivierJT, developer of the upcoming Synthesis Universe, also noting the changes in design between the consumer version of the device and the recently revealed HTC Vive Pre: “There are changes in the top strap design I notice.”
Nick Pittom, responsible for Fire Panda’s hugely respected Oculus Rift projects including several based on Studio Ghibli feature films and now working on Crystal Rift at Psytec Games, echoes the sentiment that the price point is more than respectable.
“I’d anticipated around $850, so this is a pretty good price point. The additional cost is offset by the controllers and base stations of course, so people buying will see where the cost is,” stated Pittom. “It also reinforces the idea that the Rift is not ‘expensive’ as such – it’s just that cutting edge VR in the home is not yet ‘cheap’. I can see people paying for the headsets. There’s really nothing else like it. I can see people being very happy with them. It’s a pretty exciting time really.”
A huge supporter of the Oculus Rift throughout its development phase, Ghost Machine‘s Neal Nellans believes the HTC and Valve have pitched the pricing of the device very well indeed. “For the amount of technology that you get with the Vive, $800 is a very fair price,” states Nellans. “One advantage of the Vive, is that it is bundled with all gear needed to play all types of virtual reality content in the foreseeable future. Now it will simply come down to how much content is available at launch.”
Sam Watts, Operations Lead at Make[REAL], is respectful of the HTC Vive price point, but unsure of it’s competitive nature when compared to the price of the Oculus Rift. “After the reveal of the price for Oculus Rift, I had tentatively guessed that the HTC Vive would come in at $699 so was $100 under. Am interested to see what the GBP/EUR price works out as, since HTC should have global distribution centres meaning we should get better deals on shipping and localised prices. Bearing in mind $799 doesn’t include US state sales taxes and shipping, one has to ask whether the lighthouse base stations and controllers are worth $200 above the $599 of the Oculus Rift,”
Watts is clearly addressing the announcement as a direct reaction to the pricing of the Oculus Rift, especially given the added value of 2 pack-in software titles with each HMD. With this is mind, Watts suggests that Oculus VR may still have an ace up their sleeve: “I would like to see Oculus to return fire in a few months time with a Rift & Touch bundle priced at $699. For now though I think it means that the majority of early adopters will be having to make a choice between Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, with only a few in a position to be able to afford both.”
UK developers at each end of the spectrum – Bojan BrBora, independent developer of Negotiator VR and yet to release a virtual reality (VR) product, and Coatsink, responsible for the already available Esper and Esper 2 – both offer a similar opinion on the announcement.
“The price makes sense, this is due to the tech involved, the manufacturing process being relatively new and that it includes hand controllers along with room scale tracking. To be honest, I expected it to cost more,” states BrBora of 4PM Games.
“The pricing sounds about right and hasn’t come as much of a shock. While the price of VR technology isn’t exactly cheap, for what it does and what it achieves, it could be a lot worse. We are looking forward to the potential of Virtual Reality being unlocked by both developers and the public,” offers Daley Johnson, Community Manager at Coatsink.
With the opinions of developers being largely positive, it remains to be seen which HMD will take the advantage upon release. The VR market is most certainly not a ‘first place only’ field, especially this early on. However, content is king, and winning over the hearts and minds of developers will be key to securing a future for both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.