Why Wait?

Though the enthusiasts among us are excited for next-gen headset hardware because it’s easy to see much better the headsets are going to get just by enhancing the basic specs like resolution, weight, and field of view, there’s good reason for the major players to take a slow and steady approach.

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HTC’s Vive General Manager, Daniel O’Brien, said recently that the company doesn’t want to push out a new version of the existing Vive headset until it can offer something new.

“It’s not about picking a production cycle and timeline, it’s about bringing really meaningful innovation that helps the developer community to create compelling new experiences,” he said.

Given the current market climate, it makes sense to have as few hardware revisions as possible so that developers have a cohesive audience to target. If these companies began offering relatively small hardware improvements on a yearly basis, it would risk divvying up the fledgling audience of VR gamers that developers rely on to fuel the creation of compelling content (which in turn drives sales).

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Until there’s something game-changing to add to the hardware, a ‘Rift 2’ or ‘Vive 2’ with slightly higher resolution doesn’t add enough value to justify the risk of dicing up the still growing consumer market.

In The Meantime

So what happens while we wait? At the moment, the biggest value that headset makers can add to the VR market as a whole is not new headsets with new features, but the same headsets at a lower cost.

Oculus Rift

In March, Oculus managed to chop $100 off of the Rift headset and $100 off of the Touch controllers, bringing the Rift + Touch package down to a more palatable $600 (rather than $800).

HTC Vive

Meanwhile, HTC has introduced easily accessible financing options to let eager customers split up the cost of the $800 Vive system over a longer period. The company recently expanded that offering to bundles covering the system and a VR Ready PC or GPU. And while HTC hasn’t made any permanent price cuts, they have perhaps been working from the other end (improving the headset while keeping the price the same) by significantly reducing the weight of the headset and beginning to ship tweaked base stations, not to mention new accessories introduced in 2017.

PlayStation VR

Sony hasn’t made any price cuts to its PlayStation VR headset, though as the most affordable option (and so far best selling) from the get-go, you can imagine why they’re pretty happy with the status quo.

My hope is that holiday season 2017 will bring the best deals yet on these VR headsets, significantly bolstering the install base. Holiday 2016 saw roughly a $100 discount as the best deal on the Rift or Vive, but for holiday 2017 sales I’m really hoping we’ll see limited time Rift + Vive sales priced at $400 with the Vive priced at $500. As for Sony, so far the company hasn’t offered up a PlayStation 4 + PSVR bundle and I’d love to see one on sale for the holidays at $500.

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  • VRdeluxe

    The difference between the Samsungs new VR displays are like night and day. Racing sims and space games like Elite Dangerous are going to be insane!

    • Tyler Moore

      Even just productivity applications, text will be so much more readable.

    • Lucidfeuer

      Are you a paid PR account?

      • elev8d

        I mean, what he said isn’t really debatable. The screen door on the current displays is very visible and experience inhibiting. The new Samsung panels will double the resolution horizontally and vertically making the screen door effect a non-issue.

  • Yosarin Blake

    Can someone PLEASE tell why, if Google Seurat can make high quality PC
    graphics available on a mobile device, it could not ALSO make 4K super
    graphics for Samsung’s new ultra definition headset available on a mid range
    PC?

    • polysix

      answered you on another page, seurat isn’t *fully* interactive like real software, it’s like a cheap parlour trick. No thanks, not for my VR. It has its uses, sure, and can make things look pretty, sure, but I don’t turn to VR to get limited interaction and would hate for that to become the norm “super high res/high poly pretty over dynamic/in depth interaction and empowerment”. Sewer rat is just a fancy version of 360 photo with bells and whistles when it comes down to it. We have enough ‘stand here and wave shoot’ or ‘stand here and interact only in this area’ crud on VR already, SR would only encourage MORE of that.

      It may have uses in VR movies but for proper gaming? pass.

    • Lucidfeuer

      Who the heck said they couldn’t?

  • polysix

    VR is not mobile phones, or consoles… people are VERY hungry for a fully decent HMD/VR system and will pay the first company (other than facebook yuck) to come out with it for PC (wireless, foveated, these new screens etc). Vive was cool but super flawed (sold mine) PSVR is fun but janky (sold mine) and rift has so many issues (visual and otherwise) that it’s a non starter for many (preferred my dk2 to the cv1!).

    With tech that is improving this rapidly with MUCH NEEDED tech it needs to get to market much quicker than other forms of tech that are slim improvements over their last gens, VR isn’t even really at the starting point of acceptable for 99% of people yet (inc many VR hardcore users) so playing the trickle/waiting game will only backfire for those companies that decide to wait.

    We have the tech NOW to do wireless, foveated, higher res screen in a decent ergonomic design (more PSVR less Vive) with good tracking (lighthouse), if LG capitalise on that and change their prototype spec to include all the above they will make a killing and leave Vive and rift in the dirt. Microsoft too if they don’t stop messing around with low end VR HMDs.

    • Raphael

      What are u crapping on about eh? Did you graduate from the school of VR cliche rhetoric? You preferred your DK2 to CV1? We have the tech NOW for wireless, foveated blah blah. So you’re one of these morons who claims the good technology is deliberately being held back from you.

      “Microsoft too if they don’t stop messing around with low end VR HMDs.” << Everything is very simple and clear-cut in your largely empty head. Meanwhile in the real world…

      • traschcanman

        “To Bavor, the populist approach is all part of a deliberate process — and a necessary one, because even the higher level of VR that comes from more immersive headsets has not yet reached the price-performance standard that would satisfy many millions of consumers. “Could we have built the mother of all headsets that cost $2,000 and was amazing?” he asks. “Of course. We have those in the lab, but it didn’t make sense to try and push the product.” “

      • Lucidfeuer

        Meanwhile in the real world, people have actually worked for companies, do work in digital and VR agencies, but some who don’t still happen to be rational and smart unlike some hypocritical kool aid drinker who would defend Monsanto’s agent orange in their sodas if the media told them to.

        • Raphael

          You seem to like that drink. I recall you’ve mentioned it before thus it has to be a product you’re advertising. Don’t have it in my country but given that i don’t drink any processed chemical shit then i wouldn’t be touching your promoted product.

          You seem dumber than usual…. Too much fizzy processed shit?

          • Lucidfeuer

            My bad, I drank too much quinoa soy latte.

          • Raphael

            Let that be a lesson for all of us. quin soy latte does sound like an improvement over the fizzy stuff though.

    • Lucidfeuer

      I’m glad to see there are other sane people.

      I agree minus foveated rendering: there’s no point in this for now, although eye-tracking is however a starting necessity for VR.

  • “but after the reveal of a polarizing political stance”

    That’s right. Either agree with the censors or they will say you adopted a “polarizing” stance. What’s polarizing? Palmer Luckey didn’t support Hillary Clinton and was apparently leaning toward Trump. For that, he apparently gets blacklisted.

    • Raphael

      Not quite. You’ve understated it to suit your own agenda. It was the meme funding and the group behind the meme funding that pissed people off.

      • Mexor

        You contested what he said and then essentially said the same thing as he did.

        What is wrong with “meme funding” and what was wrong with the “group behind the meme funding” other than the fact that they supported the wrong candidate? And please don’t answer the question by calling them names.

        • Raphael

          This is old news. Move on flappy. You arrived too late.

          • Mexor

            Then why did you reply?

          • Raphael

            To remind you to start planning ahead for Christmas.

          • Mexor

            OK, I’ll remind you that you have no answer but yet still want to push back, which is exactly the same thing you did a month ago when you replied to GregJustice.

            Merry Christmas.

          • Raphael

            There is no justice. Merry Christmas.

  • I guess that we’ll see announcements in the next 12 months… we’ve seeing new stuff every month, it would be strange not to hear anything for a year.

  • zflorence1

    My predictions are for a reveal of CV2 either summer or fall of 2018 with a launch spring of 2019. I agree with the articles view that just updating the FOV or resolution is not going to amount to much in terms of market value. Essentially the new hardware justification lies with integrated eye tracking which would allow for new rendering techniques, new user input cases, and software based digital variable focus (I don’t expect hardware based variable focus till generation 3) along with other enhancements. Eye tracking could even digitally expand the FOV compensating for eye rotation. See this for use cases already in action: https://tobiigaming.com/discover/

  • Sponge Bob

    does it mean that all those all-in-one HMD prototypes advertised on this blog (from the likes of Quallcom and msoft) are worthless shit not capable of competing with “major” players so the market will have to wait for another year or two ???

  • towblerone

    Dammit. I may have to end up getting a gen-1 Vive along with all the add-ons like wireless, new head strap, eye tracking, .etc, rather than wait until late 2018 for gen-2.

  • Michel Vilain

    Oculus and Vive Gen2 HMDs will allow developers to create experiences that can’t run on the Gen1 HMDs. That’s basically what the Gen2 devices will mean.
    If so, then yes, I also see a Gen2 product only next year, although it’s a guess what the Gen2 will bring to the table even though we can hazard a guess. Well, actually several guesses: resolution, foveated, inside-out tracking, wireless,… some of the guesses will even be correct. :-)
    Having said that, I do see several ‘iterations’ of Gen1 before that time ie make them cheaper, lighter, go for the visor setup,… These things are happening right now, like the lighter Vive, cheaper Rift, better/simpler lighthouse. It’s not as if the Gen1 devices are frozen in time. As long as there is full backward compatibility, lots of improvements can be made through point-releases or add-ons without throwing the early adaptors to the lions.
    As for new Rift/Vive-like devices entering the market, they will probably have a though time breaking into the scene, main reason being lack of an ecosystem. (But who knows, maybe Microsoft’s VR/AR could pull it off) The stand-alone HTC Daydream devices, falling somewhere between mobile and desktop experiences but with some of the pro’s of Gen2 like inside-out and wireless (well, self-contained even), might shake things up a bit too. Interesting times. I’m happy to wait for better times while playing with my Gear VR. (never having used Rift or Vive, Gear VR does look pretty nice.)

  • Nimblerichman

    Oculus wasn’t the end of VR for Palmer. He is going to make a big comeback in the near future and his next VR startup will be better than Oculus. In fact I’m sure he’s working on it already!