Kat VR, the China-based company behind the 2015 Kickstarter-funded KAT Walk VR treadmill, announced last month that a new mini-version of the low-friction VR treadmill would be hitting Kickstarter soon, and that above all it would be “affordable.” Today the company published pre-order prices on the Kat VR website, and it’s unfortunately a bitter pill to swallow: with the lowest early bird discount of 50%, the minimum price is $1500.

Update (04/13/18): Kat VR announced on its blog that they’re scrapping plans to launch a Kickstarter due to outside funding. “[A]fter some successful cooperations [sic] with our business partners we now have the resources and ability to proceed with the research and development of the KAT Walk mini without the need for crowdfunding.”

A Kat VR spokesperson took to Reddit last week to address consumer concerns, saying “[o]ur target audience is for consumer-use, the price will be fitting,” and that the Kickstarter would roll out “soon” and the Mini would be “affordable.”

Now, the company has published a pre-order price list on their website. Each successive week during the pre-order period sees a price hike between $200-$500:

image courtesy Kat VR

We’ve reached out to Kat VR to clarify what that means to prospective Kickstarters, as below the price list is a pre-order contact form. At the time of this writing, the company’s Kickstarter is still MIA (see update above).

Kat Walk Mini is designed to be smaller and lighter than the 2015-era Kat Walk, and features a number of design changes including a new laser sensor array for lower latency and more responsive foot tracking, a redesigned guide bar system that pivots in place as you turn your body to face the desired direction, and a “high strain shock-absorbing material” in the treadmill’s base. Using low-friction shoes, the system allows you to simulate walking, and even sit down, according to the new informational video linked below. Kat Walk Mini is aiming to support SteamVR-compatible headsets including Vive and Rift, and also PSVR.

SEE ALSO
Hands-on: 'Kat Walk' Proves That VR Treadmills Are Getting Better, but Still Aren't Perfect

The original Kat Walk, a much larger unit, originally ranged between $400-$650 for early bird Kickstarters, although the MSRP is likely much more expensive than that (price available by inquiry only). If Kickstarters pre-order customers aren’t seeing a similar price break, then it’s safe to say the company is classing itself out of its target market.

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  • Steve Biegun

    Getting to an an affordable price is only part of the challenge. Is there any indication that any content will actually be compatible with this? Worst case scenario, Kat VR makes a basic FPS that relies on the hardware and no future content supports this device.

    EDIT: From the linked Reddit article, a Kat VR spokeperson said “The mini supports all free locomotion games. So the library is already huge and constantly expanding. And yes, you can jump.” That’s encouraging!

    • Zpfunk

      thats pretty legit.

  • Zpfunk

    Wow, this is a shame to see. The allure of VR interaction through the use of treadmills while interesting, would still see a limited use case at this early stage in the evolution of Virtual Reality especially considering going prone isn’t an option for games such as “Onward VR”.

    I, as someone one who might be considered by some a “Prosumer” and more recently a “VR enthusiast” ( first building a mobile VR headset from binoculars ductape and foam, having purchased the Gear VR, and then later using it with Riftcat for steam vr, then going on to purchase Htc Vive, Oculus Rift, and a Lenovo explorer headset.) was highly interested in backing an “Affordable” treadmill with a smaller footprint. I was even willing to overlook the fact that there are not many new AAA games to begin with and so anyone who would be interested in adding a treadmill to their VR setup has probably already played through most of them without the need for a treadmill. Even as someone who has been willing to shell out thousands of dollars in support of the evolution of virtual reality, going as far back as the VR arcades of the 1990’s playing games such as Dactyl’s Nightmare, I can honestly say I will never pay more for an accessory with such limited functionality than I would for the headset and computer that I use it with, so this news comes as a huge disappointment, that only gets worse as time progresses.

    • Graham J ⭐️

      So it’s too expensive. Got it.

      • Zpfunk

        Its a matter of relativity.

      • Bryan Ischo

        Wow Graham J you’re just full of those zingy one-liners today. So clever!

      • jj

        yeah graham if youre going to just be a cock-ass on here for no reason then leave. take your shit put it in a bag and go home because your comments are not constructive they are just shit.

        • Graham J ⭐️

          Luckily cock-asses are known for taking helpful suggestions.

          • jj

            so does that mean you’re going to leave?

          • Steve Biegun

            Out of curiosity, why are you posting here? What’s wrong?

    • Blinko23

      Yeah, it’s expensive. But I guess I was sort of expecting that. No way they would be able to get this thing under $1k for a limited production run. I’m still hugely interested in it but looks like I will have to save up and buy well after their kickstarter.

  • NooYawker

    China based company? I’ll just wait for a different china based company to use their plans to build their own cheaper version.

    • Graham J ⭐️

      US based commenter? I’ll just call out you Trump-loving racist Americans.

      • Bryan Ischo

        The fact that you put the ‘s’ at the end of “Americans” and are smearing an entire population, in fact makes you the clear racist here (perhaps racist is not the correct term since “American” is not a race, but something equally discriminatory anyway).

        • Graham J ⭐️

          Welcome to irony. And it is racism.

          • JJ

            its called you being racist when you wrongfully think others were first. two racists dont make right

          • Graham J ⭐️

            What I was doing was emulating OP to point out the err of ethnic discrimination. Thanks for coming out.

          • dogtato

            It’s not ethnic discrimination. Copying is a feature of Chinese culture. It’s not a place where individuality is highly valued. Chinese manufacturers are rightly known for ignoring intellectual property laws.

          • JJ

            Thank you! it’s a well known characteristic of Shenzhen to disregard and trade patents and technology-know-how in a manner that isnt anywhere else.

          • JJ

            any more comments graham? Because I think the collective opinion is clearly against you.

          • Peter Hansen

            Yeah, thats opinionated. I clearly see what Graham was doing there. He was trying to go against prejudices. I value that. But I am no US citizen. So maybe I am just categorically wrong. ;)

          • AndyP

            It’s xenophobia if you’re being a prejudiced arse about people from other countries of your own ethnicity, or racism if another ethnicity – but wtf has it, or your comments, got to do with VR?

      • JJ

        yeah nooyorker made a comment on chines business ethics. you however went straight to attacking the american people with a racist comment.

        • Graham J ⭐️

          And you have a knack for stating an imprecise version of the obvious.

      • Ethan James Trombley

        Butthole

        • brubble

          Concise.

          • Ethan James Trombley

            That’s all it takes lol

      • brubble

        Having lived in China….I wouldnt/dont trust most of their practices or products. They sure arent known for their upstanding business ethics.

      • Sardine

        Don’t choke on your soy milk Graham.

      • NooYawker

        I’m Chinese. And all you have to do is go to Amazon and see what I’m saying is true. Not attacking my peeps, just stating a fact on how business is done in China.

    • Nope, wrong

      This guy’s not wrong. No copyright laws means the next copycat will just take up the design and sell it for cheaper.

  • Sandy Wich

    The future of entertainment is VR, but I doubt mainstream society will start building, “VR additions”, to their homes just for huge play spaces. Even if this stuff is expensive and not perfect, I’m happy someone is working on the future locomotion for VR.

    I’m happy with running on the spot right now though.

  • Firestorm185

    We all knew this wouldn’t be cheap, but sheesh, 3 grand for a treadmill? That’s hardly consumer focused, even if it is a treadmill.

    • Peter Hansen

      True, but few people would actually get such a bulky device. Only a few wealthy peeps with a spacey entertainment room in the basement.

  • VR Geek

    AVOID. I had a Virtuix that like the Kat, does not track your feet which means your movements are not 1:1 with your real world movements. It is like a giant joy stick.

    This sort of tech will work once feet are tracked 1:1.

    • Blinko23

      Didn’t the Kat team say they fixed that issue with this treadmill? I believe that is one of the main selling points.

      • JJ

        even if they said that, they haven’t demonstrated or explained how they got past this and without proof or even a simple explanation you can bet that its a jank fix or not really fixed and just avoiding issues.

    • Obsurveyor

      Video shows foot trackers

      • JJ

        yeah thats a vive solution not a Kat, kinda cheap if you ask me, theres no need for their hardware as long as you have slippery shoes if the vive pucks are doing the tracking.

        • Obsurveyor

          Ahh. I can’t use this thing anyway, there’s no way they’ll make shoes for my wide feet.

      • VR Geek

        I have seen no evidence that they track your feet 1:1. They are just like Virtuix in that they are selling a product that claims to make motion sickness go away, but without 1:1 tracking, it will actually make most of you more sick not less. Don’t buy the BS marketting.

  • flamaest

    What a rip-off. Even at 50% off, Sheesh. Glad I got my Omni for 500 delivered. May not be perfect, but I got it.

  • RockstarRepublic

    Yeah… nope!. They clearly do not understand the consumer market. Their other treadmills were meant to appeal more to businesses and professionals, which is fine, but if this is supposed to be their home-consumer minded adaptation then they fell flat on their face.

    If they want this kind of product to succeed, it needs to be highly accessible. Accessibility is key when starting out.

    • G-man

      what are you even talking about when you say accessibility?

      • RockstarRepublic

        You do not know what accessibility refers to in the context I have given? Really?

        High accessibility is an important aspect of getting new tech off of the ground and into the consumer market (as opposed to the professional or commercial market). In this case, price point. When the Oculus Rift dropped its price point down to say $350-400, it was going for high accessibility. Same went for the recent batch of Windows Mixed Reality headsets. Key words here are, accessibility and consumer market.

        The KatVR Mini is tagged as being geared for the “consumer market”, yet their price point fails to actually meet the consumer market label via low accessibility.

        • G-man

          you mean affordable. accessibility is about making something usable for people with dissabilities. or just people being able to access it in general. it has nothing to do with price. thats why i asked, because you apparently just think you can change the meaning of words.

          i understood what you were trying to say from the context but the word you used was completely wrong. so i asked. because accessibility from what you said would be the fact that its big and hard to ship and install in a consumers home. not the price. you didnt mention price once you just kept repeating “accessibility”

          • RockstarRepublic

            You are wrong. Accessibility is used often to refer to products and software as it pertains to price point as well as availability. For some odd reason you seem to think that word has the same connotation as it does for such things as public walkways.

            For products, especially game and software related, high accessibility would be free, with digital downloads being present. Mobile games for example have high accessibility due to a free to play business model, to which quantity is more important than quality.

            For products such as this, especially for newer tech, quantity of users is a key component, thus accessibility in the marketplace is important. Both Windows Mixed Reality headsets and the oculus rift bundle are trying to be high accessibility products, the vive pro on the other hand strives to be low accessibility for a more targeted niche audience. Different strategies.

          • G-man

            No you are just using the word incorrectly.

  • Salamander

    This looked pretty cool in the video. But then the price and the fact that it doesn’t actually track your feet made me close this page.

  • AndyP

    Gigabyte GTX 1080 Ti 11GB WATERFORCE WB Xtreme Edition Graphics Card, for example, is £1299.99 – and the treadmill may have much greater longevity. But Gigabyte etc didn’t fall at the first hurdle by pricing themselves out of a sufficient market size.

    • Peter Hansen

      It’s a hard struggle. It is a lot of R&D for a very small market. They wouldn’t be the first Treadmill company having trouble. Thinking of Virtuix…

      • AndyP

        I’m not an expert – but surely they need better, longer-term investment/investors that are prepared for some ‘loss leading’ while the product becomes established (also noting the benefits of economies of scale as the sales pick up). YouTube and Facebook provided ad free service (loss leading) for years before introducing ads – or they would have fallen flat; Spotify are similar. Perhaps it’s different for hardware?

        • AndyP

          To contradict myself: it isn’t different as Facebook invested billions in Rift of course – doh!

          • Peter Hansen

            I personally don’t believe that many private users will buy a treadmill, irrespective of the price. I am a VR enthusiast, but I just don’t have the space. Some potential investors surely have thought similarly. So basically this is a product for very few home users (the VR niche itself is small) and a couple of location-based centers – where the Virtuix Omni already is in the market (and some more competitors, too).

            In addition the movement style of these types of treadmills isn’t quite as natural as e.g. with the Infiniadeck and similar approaches (where the floor is actually moving; like Strider VR).
            https://futurism.com/facts/infiniadeck/
            https://www.stridervr.com/

          • AndyP

            Fair points, though those who have dedicated VR space already may at least have the room. I didn’t have the space for VR inside, so built a substantial shed (with insulation, power, lighting, LAN, alarm) outside. Also use it as an office (the peace has greatly improved my productivity) and general escape (saved my marriage!). If you have a relatively small patch of land outside, it’s a good option and you can build most of it yourself (need an electrician to make the final connections and ensure safety) and improve it over time.

          • Peter Hansen

            Lucky you, you have _land_. See, that’s what I am talking about. I have a living room. Big enough, but I have to move the couch table at least.

  • Jean-Sebastien Perron

    I was about to buy one, but I won’t pay more than 1 000$ for that. Just looking at it, I can see that their design is way too overly complex to produce thus increasing the price (look over functionality). If you look closely at the photoshoped promo image compared to the video on youtube : the radius of the mat is too small for normal running. The guy on the picture has been edited to look smaller. Rushing people into buying it makes it look like a scam.

  • Nosfar

    Hahahahahalol lol lol. I was willing to gamble 600 plus 300 shipping on this. But after the “Omni” which sits unassembled in acorner of my house becuse it stinks,there is no way id gamble 1500 plus shipping .I know some will.I contacted the company and suggested they do a few reviews and opinion videos so a consumer has a base to make a decision about that amount of money,And they basiclly blew me off. If pcvr frank said it was amazing or even this website then i would consider it .But not going 1800 on blind faith.

    • Nope, wrong

      Exactly.

    • Gato Satanista

      Whats wrong with the omini? Just curious

      • Nosfar

        Everything sadly.its unresponsive,heavy, over complicated, the gait is too short.,everything.

        • Konchu

          I think this is going to come down to who can get the tracking down on these. though not sure if the Baby walker design will ever work 100% I like the infinideck design but not its price.

        • James Cobalt

          Fact. The omni is a borderline torture device for the speed in which it induces motion sickness.

  • Jerald Doerr

    Yes, but will it allow me to pull off my quadruple axel in Tanya VR?

  • 3 Grand for a slippery floor is taking the mick. Moving on…..

  • iThinkMyCatIsAFlea

    All dressed up and nothing to play…

  • fuyou2

    What A Fucking Rip-Off!..Should have been more like $499 at the max, plus maybe shipping. In China they would be manufacturing the whole thing for under $200 easy. Plus no 1:1 foot tracking, makes this a big Scam.

    • James Cobalt

      Shipping probably cost as much as manufacturing if not more. Also R&D, marketing, general & admin… I expected this to be around $1500. The $3000 though is truly surprising.

  • oompah

    Soooooo costly

  • Dave Graham

    I can’t see many of those flying off the shelves at that price, this will be a toy for the well off with money to burn, rather than a practical upgrade to an average persons already expensive VR set up. $1000 max is where I saw the price, it’s a peripheral ffs,

  • Nope, wrong

    They will sell exactly zero of these at $3000. They’ll put the permanent price at $1500 + shipping, and they’ll survive.

  • Pre Seznik

    I’d buy this if i had the space. I don’t. I wish houses were cheaper.

  • Cdaked

    It supports PSVR? Really? How?

    • G-man

      emulates a tumbstick. send the data over bluetooth.

      • Cdaked

        Thanks, but… what happens with the tracking?

        • G-man

          what about it? you’re harnessed to the platform and you can move your head around…

  • Martin Petersson

    What kind of mechanism for reducing friction as it’s rotating? So I can build my own at work. Thanks in advance.

  • AndyP

    Another issue, also with room scale to a lesser extent, is that many gamers want to sit down and relax at the end of a busy day – and not walk miles across Skyrim for example.

    • evo89

      I believe those gamers have already solved this issue with the technology referred to as a “chair” ;)

      This device is aimed at people who want to walk, primarily.

      • AndyP

        Wasn’t commenting on chair technology, but thanks, I agree they can be very useful. I was referring to the potential limited market, in relation to related comments here.

  • MW

    Well… Vr becomes a toy for very rich kids (hmd over 1000usd, comp. 1500 USD, accessories-many thousands). However, I’m afraid, that there’s not enough drug lord’s, bankers and oil barons to suspend entire VR businesses. Or am I wrong?

    • G-man

      i dont think you know what very rich means.

    • Konchu

      VR at it base is getting cheaper though not sure what headsets you are looking at over 1000, Computers can cost in the thousands to be be fair, but requirements have dropped for VR into the 600-800 dollar PC territory still not super cheap mind you. But I still feel VR is coming for everyone more that ever before its just gonna take time. I see items like these treadmills going to VR arcades eventually making it more accessible. But for now no doubt it is an enthusiast thing aka you have to have the money or willing to make the money to do it which limits the impulse buys thus the saturation.

  • Myrothas McMillan

    whoever buys this: hahahahahaha!
    have fun with a 3 grand joystick