HTC today launched the Vive Pro McLaren Edition, which includes a limited edition Vive Pro with 2.0 peripherals and colored accents, a themed box, a copy of racing sim rFactor 2 McLaren Edition, and the McLaren Garage VR Experience. Priced at a whopping $1,550 ($150 more than usual), the move makes it less clear than ever whether the Pro is meant for enterprise/commercial use, or for consumers.
When the Vive Pro’s price was announced for the headset alone at $800 earlier this year, VR enthusiasts, including those already bought into HTC’s VR ecosystem, were not happy. The company’s defense at the time was that the headset is really meant for enterprise and commercial customers, and we heard the same sentiment when the price of the Vive Pro ‘Full Kit’ (including 2.0 base stations and controllers) was later announced for $1,400.
HTC’s defense of the price makes some sense. The 2.0 tracking tech’s most notable benefit is that it allows the expansion of the tracking area from some 11.5′ × 11.5′ to 33′ × 33′ with four base stations instead of the usual two. That’s overkill for most every regular consumer, so it’s reasonable to say that the headset (and its price) is intended for enterprise and commercial segments.
But HTC has consistently included consumer-facing use-cases in its marketing message for the Vive Pro, leading consumers to ask ‘why so much?’.
To be fair, they do offer a slightly cheaper Vive Pro ‘Starter Kit’, which includes the headset with 1.0 tracking peripherals, and it’s possible to buy the Vive Pro headset by itself without the 2.0 tracking peripherals (for those who already have a Vive and just want the upgraded headset).
But today’s launch of the Vive Pro McLaren Edition has taken any semblance of clear market positioning and thrown it right into the garbage.
The McLaren Edition is clearly a consumer-facing headset, as it includes a racing sim out of the box, and the trailer announcing the headset clearly appeals to individual racing fans. And yet, the McLaren Edition not only includes the 2.0 tracking peripherals (which we established are overkill for normal consumers) but they’ve slapped a $150 premium on top of an already premium priced product, bringing the whole thing to a ridiculous $1,550.
There’s two things that make this especially odd. First is that the headset appears to want to appeal to fans of VR racing simulators. For that, the most thoughtful Vive Pro package would be the headset alone with a single 1.0 base station and no controllers—as no serious racing sims use VR controllers for input—and someone sitting in a chair to play a VR racing game clearly doesn’t benefit from the expanded tracking area supported by 2.0 base stations.
Such a package would be a smart way for HTC to appeal to sim racers who want the headset’s high resolution and strong ergonomics for racing games, without asking them to buy way more than they need. And yet HTC has gone the opposite direction by including the full swath of 2.0 peripherals and then decided to charge even more than the non-McLaren Edition.
Second, HTC chose to launch the more expensive Vive Pro McLaren Edition on Black Friday, perfectly conflicting with the company’s own sale on the Vive Pro Full Kit, which makes an even more egregious $350 price difference between the McLaren Edition ($1,550) and the non-McLaren Edition ($1,200 on sale).
A sampling a comments from the Vive section of Reddit about the McLaren Edition headset offers telling sentiment from Vive enthusiasts:
If I owned a Mclaren, I would definitely buy this.
But for everyone else who can’t spend 200k on a car, me included, it’s hard to believe the price.
It looks like all it is is an orange trim piece around the front cameras and a McLaren-themed box.
The orange doesn’t even go well with the Vive Pro blue.
Specs are the same as a regular Pro.
Sorry McLaren and HTC, not even interested in the slightest. How about some Lighthouses 2.0 for my living room? Much rather have those…
Pfff, holy moly… HTC really thinks they can attact people with this “exclusively” shitty offer for more than 30% additional to the normal price??
Good luck with that.
They will sink like a stone as soon as Valve is releasing their own headset… and noone will even shed a tear.
At this point there’s no hiding behind the notion that the Vive Pro is meant for enterprise/commercial usage; this move only further grates on the loyalty of HTC’s early adopter enthusiasts who would love nothing more than to continue to support the company’s continued VR efforts, if only they could afford to.