Virtual Reality comes to the mainstream

With Sony’s announcement of PlayStation VR coming in at $399 for the headset and corresponding gear to connect the solution to the PlayStation 4 (adjunct accessories sold separately), we now have the price points, feature sets, and solutions that will be available this year.  Facebook-owned Oculus and the HTC Vive had announced their offerings prior to GDC 2016 at $599 (Oculus headset – controllers sold seperately) and $799 (whole solution included) respectively.  If one takes a cursory look at the initial price tags, it would appear that PlayStation VR hit the sweet spot with their announcement.  However, the further accessories required for a comparable overall experience will add to the final cost and are contingent upon support from the game developers.  Realistically, an immersive stereoscopic experience for $400 doesn’t require many concessions as long as the realization is made that the motion control aspect that further enhances the reality of VR won’t be available at this price point.  Oculus hasn’t provided pricing for their touch controller, which may mitigate the upfront price differential between the Rift and the Vive.  Our last experience with VR was in the 90’s at a VR arcade at the local mall.  The games, running on PCs and requiring clunky input devices that were tethered to a fixed station, was an impressive yet expensive experience.  The dramatic resolution and frame rate boost afforded by modern GPUs will hopefully accelerate adoption, acceptance, and lead to improved economies that ensure mass market adoption.

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