The Vive won't be on store shelves until later this year, but fans expect that its official price will be announced soon. Gamers looking to grab the virtual reality headset on the cheap, however, will probably be out of luck: the Vive is set to ring in at a premium price tag, while delivering what HTC believes will be a high-end experience.
This information comes from Jeff Gattis, the executive director for marketing at HTC, who believes that the higher price of the Vive will be justified.
In a recent interview with MVC, Gattis said that the new Vive would come out at a "slightly higher price point" than other virtual reality headsets. He also admitted that, due to the "pent-up demand" for virtual reality, HTC will release the Vive at a high price, and then drop the cost after sales to hardcore gamers create interest from mainstream consumers.
Starting with the premium experience, even if it has a slightly higher price point, is the right thing to do from a strategic point of view. The price can always come down as the market grows. We know there is some pent-up demand there, so there’s not so much price sensitivity early on. But to get the broader consumer adoption we’re all hoping for, the industry will have to drive price down to make it more accessible. Whether we do that with Vive or other form factors and devices, we understand the importance of driving price down to achieve adoption.
To find out what a "premium price" means in the ever-evolving virtual reality world, there's really only one baseline to compare it to: the Oculus Rift, which was the first mainstream virtual reality headset on the market. The Oculus's original developer edition released for $300, while an updated version came out last year for $350. The company expects that the retail edition of the Rift will cost$200-$400. It's likely that the Rift's final price will be on the higher end of that estimate, so expect the to Vive cost gamers more than $400.
The bulk of the higher price likely comes from the Vive's two wireless controllers, which will come bundled with the headset. These wireless controllers use several laser arrays to pick up movement in relation to two stationary transmitters. That system requires more complex hardware than the Oculus Rift's motion-sensing solution, which uses a stationary camera in front of the headset, and will likely cost more as a result.
The first announced game for the Vive is called Job Simulator, which will also be released on the Oculus Rift. If the higher price point holds, fans will expect the Vive to provide some exclusive games that take advantage of its technological superiority. Originally, HTC employee mistakenly stated that Half-Life was coming to the new headset, but the statement was quickly labeled a mistake.
Developer editions for the Vive are expected to arrive soon, with the retail edition still scheduled for a late 2015 release.
What do you think about the Vive, Ranters? What would it have to do to justify a premium price tag for you?