Many current VR headsets are pretty expensive. PlayStation VR comes in at $399 and Oculus Rift costs $599, but the HTC Vive continues to be the most out of reach product for the general consumer at $799. This cost also doesn’t include the price of a gaming PC required to run the headset, and seldom is someone willing to throw down that much cash without already owning the required hardware. This is just one of the reasons HTC’s virtual reality solution is said to ship far less units than both the PlayStation VR and the Oculus Rift.
In a recent report by a number of industry sources, HTC is only expected to ship 450,000 units by the end of 2016. While this seems like a pretty decent number in itself, the same report is speculating that Oculus is expected to ship 650,000 Rift units while Sony is looking like it will sell an astonishing 1.5 million PlayStation VR headsets. This is a bit disappointing, especially considering the Vive was the first headset to launch between the 3 of these. Still, the numbers don’t lie, and launch pricing certainly had something to do with HTC’s low shipments.
Another factor that needs to be considered however, is the hardware required to run each of these headsets. PlayStation VR can be played just with a PlayStation 4 console, which is much, much more numerous than gaming PC’s in the modern home. Over 40 million PlayStation 4 consoles have been shipped since launch, meaning that there are just as many PlayStation VR headsets ready to be connected. This makes the total cost of a VR experience only about $400 for many users, which is a much easier pill to swallow.
Oculus also has a hand up on HTC in required hardware. Using the company’s new Asynchronous Space Warp technology which debuted at Oculus Connect 3, it is now much easier to run the Rift headset. Since the GPU now only needs to render every other frame and guess the frames in-between, Oculus was able to lower their barrier to entry for PC computation power. What used to require a GTX 970 now only needs a GTX 960 or 1050Ti, amd went from an R9 290 to an RX 470 on the AMD side. In addition, the CPU requirements have dropped from an Intel Core i5 4590 to an i3-6100 or AMD FX 4350. In this way, multiple consumers are already able to run the rift using their current hardware, and don’t have to buy anything new at all.
While it’s a bit sad that HTC is seeing such hard times with the Vive, they did just release a wireless attachment to make the experience that much better, and are rumored to be announcing a completely revamped headset at CES this year. The new headset will likely be at a lower price than the current Vive and offer a much better experience than what the Rift or PlayStation VR can deliver, which may be enough to sway some consumers. Regardless, HTC are going to have to up their game if they want to stay in the space for the consumer VR revolution.
What do you think about these sales estimates? Are you hoping the company will do better in the future? The Vive apparently makes up 12% of HTC’s total sales, so we can hope they are able to bump that up even further in the future.