But It’s Better Than Nothing, Right?

Modularity sounds great in theory, but the way HTC has structured it has made it a convoluted mess. It took me some 750 words above this paragraph to explain the various upgrade options (and how few of them make any sense)… how does HTC expect consumers to be able to understand what’s right for them at a glance?

And I’m not even touching on the other downsides of this approach; there are hardware, manufacturing, and support compromises that need to be made to accommodate a modular design. HTC hasn’t come close to offering its initial set of Cosmos options out of the gate… maybe you’re an original Vive owner that’s ready for Cosmos, so you want to buy the Cosmos Play and upgrade it with the Cosmos Elite faceplate… unfortunately neither Play nor the Cosmos Elite faceplate are available yet, and there’s no release date yet announced.

Here’s What HTC Says About Camera Privacy on Vive Cosmos


The way this modularity could really work out for customers in the long run is if a healthy aftermarket of used Cosmos and SteamVR Tracking accessories were to be established. If the prices were right, patient customers could compile the exact kit they want by acquiring only the parts they want at reasonable prices from aftermarket sellers.

But with how quickly VR headsets are evolving, including in critical areas which aren’t modular on Cosmos (like lenses, displays, and overall form-factor), it isn’t clear how long the parts would even be in demand, which doesn’t bode well for a rich aftermarket, nor does it seem like a good strategy for HTC to push customers away from buying hardware direct.

A Glimpse Too Early

Image courtesy HTC

Confounding HTC’s current VR strategy even further was the reveal of Vive Proton, a prototype compact VR headset planned in standalone and tethered flavors, that the company announced on the very same day as its new Cosmos variants last week.

For the life of me, I can’t fathom how this makes any strategic sense. Why show your customers what you’re working on in the future when you’ve just announced a product you hope they will buy today?

It’s like if Apple announced the iPhone 11 on stage, told everyone the release date and price, and then started talking about the iPhone 12 that would come out a year later.

If customers can see that a radical shift in form-factor is coming soon, shouldn’t we expect that many of them would decide to wait on their purchase? Indeed, I’ve already seen commenters online with this exact sentiment; HTC’s timing and messaging failed to convey to the general consumer that Proton is an early prototype and not likely to launch for some time yet (perhaps not until 2021). Instead, HTC held Proton up right next to Cosmos and diverted eyes (and sales) in the process.

– – — – –

The only thing clear about HTC’s consumer VR strategy right now is that it’s a mess. The company needs to rethink its approach from the ground up, starting with simplifying its offerings, understanding actual customers, and finding the places where it can best compete against incumbents.

HTC’s Response

After our article was published we reached out to HTC for its thoughts. A spokesperson shared the following feedback:

1) “11” headsets. While yes, we have sold 11 headset variants over time, the perspective that these are all active is not accurate. We announced EOL on the original Vive last fall for instance. Starting [3/2/2020], this is a more accurate representation of what is available now or in the short term. It’s a much simpler decision tree.

Consumer PCVR:

  • Cosmos
  • Cosmos Elite

Enterprise / Enterprise Bundles:

  • Vive Pro Eye
  • Vive Pro Eye Office
  • Vive Pro Eye Arena 


  • Focus Plus

Where did all the other products go?

End of life / remaining unit sell-through:

  • Vive
  • Vive Pro Starter Kit
  • Vive Pro Full Kit
  • Vive Pro McLaren Limited Edition
  • Vive Focus (only available via custom b2b deals)

Developer only:

  • Vive Cosmos XR (Not yet available)

2) HMD-only for Cosmos. While I don’t want to get into pricing decisions, we are always looking at market feedback and if there’s demand for an HMD-only version of Cosmos, then we’ll of course consider making it available.

3) Proton is a concept project we had planned to show under glass at MWC. Since the show was cancelled, instead of complicating matters with multiple embargoes, we decided to let folks continue with the storyline. To be very clear, this is not a product today—it is a place we want to get to. Other companies routinely show off forward looking ideas (e.g. Oculus with original Quest prototype and Half Dome). I’m unclear why showing where we think the industry can get to is viewed as a negative here.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • JesuSaveSouls

    Vive put vr on the map along side oculus.The innovation tech early released was way ahead of oculus but affordable.Motion controlls and roomscale and today many still use their orig vives with satisfaction.

    • johngrimoldy

      I agree that HTC was truly a pioneer in consumer adoption of VR. It was my first rig. I still use the controllers and lighthouses with an Index. It can’t be overstated how important HTC has been to the endeavor. Their tracking is still the gold standard. Great product, but what an utterly effed up company. Product support is abysmal and they don’t seem to know how to attractively structure pricing.

      I absolutely abhor FaceBook and am deeply conflicted with their involvement in VR. Their deep pockets can help to push VR forward greatly, even if at a financial loss. The Quest is an amazing product, getting my endorsement for folks wanting to get into VR without sinking $2,500 (Index plus a marginally respectable rig to drive it). On the other hand, it’s FaceBook.

      • Mei Ling

        Their tracking is the gold standard? If you’re mentioning the original Vive then that isn’t their tracking technology.

        HTC have not and are not capable of creating reliable technology within the VR industry . They just buy parts, assemble and sell.

        • Immersive Computing

          Valve SteamVR tracking 1.0

          Still see alot of HTC out there in the world, majority of demo, events, festivals lots of Vive Pro, Vive Focus and now Vive Pro Eye.

          Former Vive owner, still enjoy using them now and then, wow it was magical in 2016…


        • johngrimoldy

          Ummmm… doesn’t every manufacturer buy parts, assemble, and sell? That’s a shit load different than simply OEMing. Who else offers the same tracking? Anyone?

          • Mei Ling

            Well that’s the point; HTC doesn’t do anything else. The tracking offered isn’t a technology they invented themselves nor do they own it. The most HTC do themselves is product design.

          • Immersive Computing

            Product design and manufacturing, which Valve has recently discovered isn’t easy…

          • Blaexe

            Facebook and Valve develop actual tech themselves. HTC usually only buys the tech and sells it. E.g. Eye-Tracking, Wireless, Vive Focus Tracking… The Cosmos’ tracking is probably one of the few things they’ve done themselves and you can clearly see how this turned out.

            HTC just doesn’t have the funds for meaningful R&D.

          • kuhpunkt

            Valve. They developed that stuff.

      • mirak

        Facebook made all Oculus founders abandon VR.
        All VR pioneers were disgusted of working on VR because of Facebook.

    • Alextended

      It was Valve’s innovations and anyone still happy with their Vive without upgrading to Index controllers just doesn’t know better. Also it was never affordable, Rift was quickly reduced to half the Vive price with tracking practically equal for most people’s use cases and way, way better, forward thinking controllers (which is why even games made for Index work perfectly well on Oculus). There’s a reason Oculus grew to have a 50% market share on Vive’s initial native platform, Steam, and that’s because HTC failed to deliver past 2016.

      • mirak

        Oculus had no choice than cut the price, because they were getting killed by the Vive.

        So it worked but they where cornered into this price range for the next products and didn’t delivered premium products.

        That’s why the vr enthousiasts that founded the company all jumped ship.

        Oculus and Facebook managed to disgust the best engineers to work on vr.

        How is that helping VR ????

        • Alextended

          You don’t know what you’re talking about, they were neither killed and they were always budget conscious and continue to be so, if premium is what’s best go make Pimax a success or something. Most sales in gaming come from the mid range, whether we’re talking graphics cards, cpus, or other products. Also nothing stops them from offering the budget conscious solution and a premium product on top of that if they see value in the latter without losing the market the former opens, that’s what HTC has been doing a while now, can’t say it’s worked out for them.

      • mirak

        It depends of the games.
        I am not sure what the knuckles would bring to a shooter game like Pavlov.
        Maybe make grip and ungrip easier.

        • Alextended

          So you’re a fanboy stuck with the wands and don’t know any better so you make up all kinds of arguments like the other post. Try using decent controllers like Oculus Touch and Index first. Wands are obsolete and were badly designed from day one.

  • Mettanine

    So on point. I’d love to upgrade my Vive to a better HMD (Headset only). But both the standalone Vive Pro and the Cosmos Elite are more expensive than the Valve Index HMD, which overall seems to have better value, too.
    The only thing going for the Cosmos at this point is its ability to use it with the Vive wireless kit. That’s quite another chunk of added cost, though.

    • Zantetsu

      I went from Vive Pro to Index. To be honest I am not 100% happy that I did. I do like the wider field of view of the Index and he much improved lenses. But the LCD panel is, in my opinion, significantly worse than the OLED of Vive Pro. Colors are less vibrant and blacks are, quite frankly, terrible. Dark scenes very clearly look like a grey haze covers everything and it makes the experience seem far less “real”, and thus less immersive.

      I personally will not buy another LCD panel headset, ever.

      • Blaexe

        You probably won’t upgrade quite a while then.

        • mirak

          That’s why I am thinking staying with the Vive OG and just getting index controllers.
          I can survive with it, as long as 8 don’t try a newer headset maybe xD

          • Zantetsu

            Ha ha well I hate to have to tell you this but I don’t love the Index controllers either. They feel very distinctly like you have something clamped to your hands (I imagined them feeling like ‘nothing is there until I decide to grip’, but it doesn’t feel like that at all) and the cluster of buttons/joysticks/trackpads are somewhat awkward to reach and use.

            I think it’s likely that I will like them better as I get used to them though, so I do recommend giving them a try.

          • Immersive Computing

            My thoughts exactly (hands being clamped), but it improved with 3D printed palm boosters and more time spent using the index controllers:


          • Adderstone VR

            Thanks, I really enjoyed that write up. Very thorough and informative.
            I actually think Valve would be wise to take note of such a detailed personal investigation.

          • Immersive Computing

            Appreciate your comments. I’ve had conversation with Valve engineer already, and provided them feedback through the 3 articles.

            Here are the other 2 in case you missed them on the website.

            First is headset:


            Third is ear:


      • Alextended

        That was your own poor decision making, it’s not like the specs weren’t there to see, Index HMD is a good solid product, not some niche upgrade path like Pimax’ highest res models or XTAL or Vive Pro/Eye. You should have just upgraded to the Index controllers and left it at that until way better resolution/screens can be provided for a good price and stuff.

      • mirak

        It’s the same issue than with LCD TVs, but in worse.

    • J.C.

      I borrowed a friend’s Vive wireless kit. At only 6 unobstructed feet from the transmitter, games dropped frames constantly. Budget Cuts was impossible to play.

      I’m going to go wired for now.

      • mirak

        I didn’t had that issues, maybe your CPU is to weak, or have a WiFi router in the way, however my issue was that it was getting too hot so I returned it.

        I went to the same store to see if they had stocks again and they said they had a client returned product, which obviously was mine, so no one bought one, in like one year and a half.
        But with such a price how is it a surprise ?

        How this shops even bother waste space in their stock with that.

      • mepy

        You clearly set it up wrong at some point of failure. I never have frame drops with the Vive wireless.

  • Super GenieTale

    HTC without Valve, it’s like a headless chicken

  • Alextended

    They should have, firstly, focused on fixing the tracking of Cosmos to redeem themselves and their product range, and secondly, upgraded their wand controllers to match the new control layout of that (which makes it compatible with the standards Rift and Index have set, even without individual finger tracking). Instead, they have products that are far lesser than Rift S, yet cost far more, or with the lighthouse tracking variants are lesser than Index (and also the Rift S in terms of controllers), and cost the same or more, HMD/screen specs be damned. They were always overpriced but this time they messed up big time, it’s like they bank on other products being sold out to sell their lesser overpriced stuff.

  • Lulu Vi Britannia

    Their strategy is unclear because there is no strategy whatsoever. HTC has been on decline for years, and they keep sinking. They’re milking VR as much as they can to survive as long as possible. They’re not trying to push VR forward, for the simple reason that they can’t, themselves, move forward.

    Frankly, HTC is a parasite to the VR market. While I do like the original Vive and the Vive Pro, those already did have big flaws, namely: the controllers, the weight repartition (and value), and the add-on policy.
    It was already a parasite, milking the people who’re into technology (or at least who want to think they’re into it, lol).

    I’ve said it times and times again, Oculus VR is the only good company in VR. Sadly, it’s Facebook, and that argument alone is enough for people to bash Oculus. I myself hesitated because of that. But in terms of technology, Oculus is just far better than their opponents. They’re not perfect (the Rift-S is cheap and their updates can be quite capricious), but their headsets are great and the company has a clear strategy, they don’t release a headset every month just for the sake of it.

    • Pulstar44

      I totally agree, but Valve is definitely a driving force with the Index. Really the field is wide open for another company to create a new headset and controllers that use steam VR tracking. I’m surprised that Pimax is the only one to do so thus far. But they are unreliable. If I had the resources I would do it myself. I think we are witnessing the death of HTC though. It’s a shame really, we could use more competition in the VR space.

      • mirak

        Valve is the driving force of something you can’t even buy.
        Or that as a lot of faults.

        • kuhpunkt

          Because Oculus is so good at having their shit in stock at the moment…

          • mirak

            Two wrong doesn’t make a right.

          • kuhpunkt

            But it’s still hypocricy.

      • Lulu Vi Britannia

        I agree Valve is a driving force, but not in terms of hardware.
        The Index has LCD screens, that alone makes it a terrible headset. And it’s just one issue among many, but the only other one I’ll mention is its price. Whatever the product, 1000$ is NEVER justified for a consumer product.

        That said, Valve built SteamVR, the major software platform for VR, and that’s what matters. Too bad they’ve haven’t released their own games… That’s what people want, and I’m afraid Alyx won’t be enough.

        • Immersive Computing

          Index headset is not $1000, it’s $499?

          Here in the UK the headset at £459 is actually good value still cheaper than Vive Pro headset at £599.

          The headset has some flaws (lens glare and brightness/contrast) but it also gives a strong sense of presence I’ve not found in Vive or Oculus product.

        • Zantetsu

          Again I agree with much of what you say but to say “no consumer product should ever cost $1000” is silly.

          Did you know that the original home computers cost something like $5,000 in today’s dollars? And for what would be considered today as completely laughable specs. Even at the time they were just barely useful. But new technology and complex to design/manufacture technology costs money to produce. So you have to pay if you want them.

        • Pulstar44

          Some people don’t mind LCD screens. And no headset is perfect. They all have their pros and cons. But after using all of them I can easily say I like the index the best. I do wish it had OLED panels but the pros outweigh the cons. This is subjective of course. It’s always good to have choices.

    • mirak

      Yeah great strategy, that’s why all their best employees jumped ship.

      • Lulu Vi Britannia

        Right, like it had anything to do with the topic…
        There are 150 reasons for employees to leave or be laid off. Only one of those reasons would be significant for the company strategy: laying off due to financial reasons.

        And guess what? That’s exactly what keeps happening to HTC. They had to lay off so many people these past few years, regularly:

        That’s not what happened to Oculus VR. They either moved up, left for personal reasons, or were laid off for political reasons. Never due to financial issues.

        • mirak

          They left because Oculus killed the more highend product to focus on sub 500$ products

    • Zantetsu

      I owned a Vive and Vive Pro and I agree with pretty much everything you said. Boy did I feel terrible shelling out so much money for the Vive Pro but at the time I really just wanted the best experience and bent over for it. When I discovered that HTC had done literally *nothing* to improve their terrible lenses I felt especially taken advantage of.

  • James Cobalt

    They pulled a Pimax!


    just give me the vive cosmos with tracking face plate and wireless for 600

  • Jonathan Winters III

    W.T.F.??? Reminds me of Pimax – terrible marketing and product line “strategies”.
    I think HTC won’t be around much longer in the consumer space.

    • Bumpy

      Agreed. Unless HTC has some deep pockets somewhere, they won’t last long.

      I find it very interesting no one has put all the best VR features in one headset yet.

      That said, I’m so happy with my WMR Reverb and won’t buy anything less in resolution sharpness.

    • Yen Gálvez

      The differece is… Pimax has a very good product, and direct connection with their customers in the forums. And HTC is a big company.

  • Gerald Terveen

    “Why show your customers what you’re working on in the future when you’ve just announced a product you hope they will buy today?”

    When you see most customers of the current generation going for the product of the competition it might be a strategic move to delay a lot of purchase decisions to a point where you have a more attractive product.

    • benz145

      Fair point.

  • Sebastian Ang

    Great article, Ben. Couldn’t agree more.

  • PJ

    If any is looking to get into VR and they look into HTC’s offerings will instantly turned away. Awful strategy for the VR industry as whole, not just HTC

  • Yes, you have various points. Personally I like the idea of modular faceplates and the configurations offered by Cosmos. But I agree that the overall strategy is confusing. IMHO they should stick with two product lines: e.g. Focus and Cosmos, and ditch all the rest. and propose the before-buy configurator as you said before.

  • sebrk

    HTC must be run by super secret agents from competing companies. I honestly don’t know how they stay afloat anymore. They managed to completely mess up their mobile business and now they do a repeat on VR. How is it even possible to do this much wrong?

  • asdf

    “I’m unclear why showing where we think the industry can get to is viewed as a negative here.”

    because your view on where the industry is at is often wrong.

  • ale bro

    Nobody wants a proton because it has the same 100 degree FOV as first gen headsets

  • Liam Mulligan

    This is fractured effort. Put the energy into making one killer product for a clearly defined customer base but relevant and competitive with other devices in the market. This looks like several prototypes fishing for multiple undefined customers. I loved my original vive, but since i cant say i still see the same passion for engineering in these things. Sorry but listen to your customers you might learn a thing or two about what people will actually pay for. Swing and a miss.

  • mfx

    They should have only the Cosmos (working properly), The Cosmos Eye with eye tracking, and the rest marked as obsolete. Period. For 600 and 800 USD.

  • Tony_Neville

    I’m pretty sure now that the HTC Vive is my first and final HTC headset. The package included lighthouses, wands, and headset for $800(USD), in 2016, and provided the best VR experience then available.