The Price of VR: Oculus Rift, PSVR, and HTC Vive

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Sony recently announced the price of their contribution to the virtual reality craze, PlayStation VR. Coming in at $399, it’ll be cheaper than both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, however, you’ll have to shell out more money for it to actually work. Both the camera that is needed for the console and the controllers will be sold separately, so you’re looking at upwards of $500 in reality, not including the price of any games. Still, with Oculus Rift at $600 and the HTC Vive at $800, it’s still the cheapest in it’s class. Why is VR so expensive?

I can tell you why: 1) virtual reality, or VR, is still a relatively new field and 2) we haven’t really started to research how useful it could be in areas other than video games. Eventually, VR will become more than just games, but because we only have game companies working on new tech, for the most part, the peripherals are incredibly expensive compared to previous ones. Any new technology comes with a price and it’s always high at first. Remember when TV’s were thousands of dollars? You can get a really nice TV for a couple hundred now; less if you wait for Black Friday. When computers first came out, they were incredibly expensive too, but now you can get a tablet for a hundred bucks.

Here’s the thing though, the VR industry is going to be very slow-going if the rest of the world doesn’t see what can be done with VR. I could come up with so many reasons technology companies should be working on creating VR programs. Education could use it for simulation training in a variety of fields, NASA could equip a rover with imaging software that could then be viewed in VR to make people more excited about space, the mental health field could use it to help patients get over phobias or traumatic experiences, even the military could use it for live simulation training, but right now people are only seeing it as games and so the gamers get the short end of the stick on the price. It’s an unfortunate truth that new tech is always doubted at first, so hopefully if the peripherals work out well, other industries will start to see a use for VR as well.

Personally, I’m going to wait and see what will come of VR, so I won’t be planning to shell out hundreds of dollars to use any of the products coming out this year. As the VR industry sees some success, better technology will come out fairly quickly, especially if people start researching a wider variety of uses than just games. I know there are some creative indie developers out there and it’d be great if they could really push the limits of VR since it will be the future for a long time. It’s been predicted that eventually VR will encompass all video gaming, which I am super excited about. I’m just not so excited about how much that might cost in the beginning.

What are your thoughts on VR technology up to this point and the pricing?