HTC has announced that it’s first VR headset, the SteamVR powered Vive, is to appear at 100 retail locations from this month and for those ordering online, they’re promising to ship to you within 72 hours wherever you are in the world.

The first SteamVR powered virtual reality headset, the HTC Vive, launched in April and suffered a somewhat faltering start. The technology was great, as we said in our in depth launch review, but getting your hands on a system was decidedly tricky – especially if you were based in Europe.

See Also: HTC Vive Review: A Mesmerising VR Experience, if You Have the Space
See Also: HTC Vive Review: A Mesmerising VR Experience, if You Have the Space

Pre-orders went on sale in February, but as soon as launch day came, extended delivery times for the room-scale VR system caused by high demand built frustration among customers. As time went on, it transpired that there were more pre-orders who had suffered some extremely frustrating payment issues at the hands of HTC’s chosen third party payment provider, Digital River.

Now on a mission to rebuild its reputation with customers, HTC have announced that if you order via their online shop for $799 US (excl. shipping), they’ll ship your Vive to you within 72 hours worldwide. A bold move indeed. Note however that Digital River appears still to be the tasked with the logistics and payment associated with your order.

SEE ALSO
American Museum of Natural History's T. Rex VR Experience Comes to Viveport

Alongside this new online initiative, HTC are pushing hard into bricks and mortar retail, with 100 locations throughout North America due to receive a Vive demo area in the month of June. It’s generally regarded as a truism that VR is a technology that must be seen to be appreciated, and with this move HTC will be able to do just that. Bear in mind, as much as readers of this website have likely been living and breathing virtual reality for a little while, the technology is still an undiscovered curio for the majority of the population.

It’s a strong move from HTC which seems to be taking a march on their biggest competitor Oculus, who are still struggling to fulfil original back orders from the pre-order launch back in January and subsequent launch in late March.

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. See here for more information.


  • Mageoftheyear

    This has been a very interesting battle to watch so far.
    First everyone sides with HTC for announcing a 2015 release date.

    Then everyone sided with Oculus for actually releasing first.
    Next everyone sided with HTC once it became clear they were meeting volume demands better than Oculus were.

    Hahaha! And here I am sitting on the sidelines, siding with neither, waiting for Gen 2 and marvelling at the power of competition as it begins to kick into high gear.
    Gone is that stigma that HTC needed to be thrown a bone in order to survive in the VR market. Oculus have a true contender on their hands and oh what a blessing it is for the consumer not to be left to the mercy of a sole provider.

    And yet, Sony are likely to be the ones to truly propel VR into the mainstream consciousness.

    Very few gamers acknowledge the good the console industry has done for PC gaming. Because of the lower system price point and the bigger audience, development studios have been able to justify creating bigger games and more games.

    We need VR in the console space for the same reason. To subsidise the risk by ensuring that the market for VR titles does not have a niche consumer base.

    Damn I love watching the market at work. It’s agile as fuck when it’s left alone to do its thing.

    • Sch@dows

      I’m still waiting to see if Playstation VR won’t need the rumored upgraded PS4. VR helmets are already expensive enough by themselves, add to that the requirement for a new version of the console, and Playstation VR would be dead instantaneously.

      PS4 already struggle to keep 30 fps one some games, let alone 60 fps, so reaching 90fps en 3D/VR will probably required great sacrifices, and seeing how some people already have trouble with 45fps retroprojection of HTC vive (not my case), they better not target something bellow 90fps.

      I completely agree with you that VR needs to be more accessible, and need something as widespread as consoles. But done wrong, it could be it’s downfall.

      • DaKangaroo

        I can code an OpenGL Java desktop application to get 8000fps/1080p. The trick is I just code it to do nothing but clear the screen to a solid colour (black for eg) then flip buffers. That runs very quickly! Since it.. basically isn’t drawing anything…

        If I add a ripped 3D model from a Playstation 1 game of a Spyro game level, I still get about 800fps, but jeeze, what a drop!

        Frame rates drop away quickly due to lots of drawing commands and per pixel operations. But modern hardware, hell even old hardware, like the PS2, is perfectly capable of 90 frames per second with high resolutions.. as long as the PS2 had to do nothing more complicated than drawing a rotating cube, it could definitely handle it!

        The PS4’s problem since day one hasn’t been it’s hardware. It’s problem is it’s game developers! The PS4 hardware is just not capable of achieving the kind of graphics which they wish to present in games.

        They should be setting a target of 1080p/60fps for their games, and then tuning their game’s graphical details, reducing where required, to fit within that limit.

        Instead, they are setting their target at a certain level of graphical detail, and just letting the frame rate and resolution suffer to achieve that level of detail. Their mentality is entirely wrong.

        But because the gaming industry, especially on consoles, is so driven by a demand for ‘realism!’, sacrificing graphical details is just not an acceptable proposition these days. The project manager who goes to their boss with a suggestion like, “Hey, how about we reduce the details on our characters, on the buildings and remove some of the more advanced lighting effects, so we can boost the frame rate and resolution of the game?”, is the project manager soon to be looking for a new job.

        If PS4 game devs wanted to, they could make VR experiences that work at say, 1440p/90fps for PSVR. Even without the PS4K/PS4.5 hardware update coming. All they’d need to do is sacrifice graphical detail.

        My gut instinct tells me that they will do that.

        Unlike regular games, VR games aren’t just ‘not as good’ when you don’t meet that minimum standard of 90fps and a high resolution. They’re practically unplayable and can make customers physically sick. 90fps is to VR, what 30fps is to console games, it’s the minimum, not just the target.

        So I think PS4 game devs will make the right choice and do the right thing, set a target for a high resolution and 90fps+ frame rate, and cut down on graphical detail until they fit within that target.

        It just means we have to adjust our levels of expectation for VR and accept that VR games will always have less graphical details than non-VR games*, just like handheld games always have less graphical detail than console games.

        (*Unless you own an absurdly expensive beast PC, PC master race FTW!)

        • Sch@dows

          “If PS4 game devs wanted to, they could make VR experiences that work at say, 1440p/90fps for PSVR. Even without the PS4K/PS4.5 hardware update coming. All they’d need to do is sacrifice graphical detail.” <– but we all know that awfully ugly games for the sake of framerate won't sell. That's just of the market works nowadays, we're not in the 90's anymore.

          "Unlike regular games, VR games aren't just 'not as good' when you don't meet that minimum standard of 90fps and a high resolution. They're practically unplayable and can make customers physically sick. 90fps is to VR, what 30fps is to console games, it's the minimum, not just the target." <– Now, I have high doubt you ever tried VR (which would be strange being of this site). I don't have any problem myself, nor my friends playing lots of games with the retroprojection having kicked in (so 45fps but still smooth tracking). When I told them the game switch from 90fps to 45 between the start and the end of the play session, they admitted they never realized it (that's another story when you disable retroprojection).

          The only thing that made a couple of friends sick was playing games were you moved automatically (like Project CARS), whatever the framerate.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            It doesn’t mean the game has to look awful.. But yeah, people expect Battlefield 4 ultramode type of graphics, and that’s not gonna happen.
            And IMHO the sickness doesn’t really come from lack of framerate/resolution, but incorrectly adjusted lenses.. Just put on some glasses that are not your prescription and walk a while with it, you’ll get motionsickness too.. I for one don’t have any motion sickness with my ’95 VFX-1 (where I can adjust the IPD and focus of the lenses), but I do with my DK2 (where I cannot adjust anything really)..

          • Sch@dows

            IPD is adjustable on vive and rift.
            Lack on smoothness lead to disconnection between what you do/feel, and what you see. Same deal with transportation sickness, where internal ear/brain cannot cope with this difference.

      • Charles

        Sony has stated that VR games will be 60 FPS reprojected to 120 FPS.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        It also comes down to how many objects you try to render… Yes a Battlefield 4 on ‘max’ will have trouble running on 30fps on a PS4, but ‘simple’ graphics can easily run at 60fps.. This is certainly a good test to see if they can come up with great gameplay over graphics.. But I don’t mean that every game has to look like an ugly minecraft based game..

    • The… um,… the computer hardware market is heavily regulated by government and cornered by cabalistic collusion on all sides. It is most certainly not left alone to do it’s own thing.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        How is the computer hardware market heavily regulated by government?

        • Besides being equally effected by every other bit of regulation that applies to all business in every jurisdiction it operates in? Patent law as enacted by the judiciary branch of government is in constant use as both an attack and buffer by many parties. The NSA insinuate themselves at their own discretion. Drones are bringing the FAA into things. The FTC watches over as well, not least because most computer hardware is imported. Of particular interest though would be the FCC as any signal sent down a wire or through the air can be considered a communication. I’d include organizations like the IEEE and ANSI as well; trade federations are a force to be reckoned with.

          To circle back to my first point and end where I began, all markets are heavily regulated, this one just has a few extra layers of embrace, but of the laws that all are subject to, none seem to bless the technology industry more than monopoly law. Very interesting that so many companies there seem to hold just on the cusp of 75% market share.

  • Wednaud Ronelus

    Wow! This is a tremendous accomplishment.

  • Sch@dows

    The HTC vive will also be available in France from at least 3 well known online stores starting 21st of June : fnac.com, materiel.net, boulanger.com
    Sold at €949, €23 less than the full price with shipping fees on the htc vive shop (€972)

  • DiGiCT Ltd

    Perfect move HTC/Valve, to bad they dont mention to much on how helpfull they also are towards us developers giving us good working data and tools to make our devs work more easy too.
    Content is still an issue, beware of it, but it is slowly growing and there is already a lot of fun out of the box to play with in “The Lab”

  • Badelhas

    Why do you say “worldwide” if I live in Portugal and still can’t order it? Only 24 countries can. There’s 194 countries in the world…

    • Kai2591

      THIS.

      Really now, when will the rest of us unpopular/unknown countries get to be able to buy them?

      • Handydagger

        I live in unlisted country I ordred mine using mail forwarder :P
        and it will arrive next week

        • Kai2591

          oohhh yeahh there’s THAT method…
          maybe when I’m desperate ;)

  • CMcD

    This is very exciting news because the Vive is pure magic to experience. Getting a “taste” at a local store will definitely result in sales. Those with patience will be able to hold out until vive gen 2… But damn you have to have some serious willpower to do that… Will power I most definitely lack ;) alright now back to VR billiards