Virtual Reality's True Cost of Admission: Platform requirements and bundles detailed

By Shawn Knight ยท 18 replies
Mar 23, 2016
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  1. Oculus VR announced in early January that its Rift VR headset would retail for $599. The announcement sparked outrage online. A month and a half later, HTC said its Vive VR headset would sell for $799 – a full $200 more than the Rift that had everyone up in arms. And just this past week, Sony revealed its virtual reality headset, the aptly-named PlayStation VR, would arrive in October priced at $399. Samsung, meanwhile, has been selling the consumer version of its Gear VR headset since November priced at just $99.

    What seems pretty cut-and-dry gets complicated in a hurry when you consider that none of these are standalone platforms; they all rely on additional hardware – be it a computer, a game console or a smartphone – to power the experience.

    To help make sense of it all, we've gone through the hassle of analyzing everything to see what the true cost of ownership looks like. Some of the findings may surprise you.

    Read the complete article.

  2. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,108   +1,286

    "We're finally on the cusp of proper virtual reality and unsurprisingly, it isn't cheap. Why that's surprising to some is honestly a bit puzzling. It's called the cost of being an enthusiast, an early adopter. The truth of the matter is, virtual reality isn't yet ready for mainstream consumption as there's not enough content and experiences to keep the attention of the average user."

    I was expecting some breakdown of why these headsets ACTUALLY cost so much, not another run around statement. The "early adopter" card has been played far too much and is in fact circular logic. Why do early adopters pay so much? Because they are willing to spend that much. You even prove this point by defending the early adoption tax.

    New tech products like this will continue to be high priced because there are people like the author in this article who get the latest, regardless of price, and then go to defend their purchase. If you aren't willing to challenge the status quo then you are simply following your bestial nature.

    Editor's reply: We agree and the original article is now updated to add BOM (bill of materials) estimates from Goldman Sachs. It's the closest we could find to a reasonable estimate of what these headsets cost of production is until they are out there and teardowns are performed.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 23, 2016
  3. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,733   +3,706

    Yep @Evernessince, that's a pretty good run down of how I see it.
  4. Hahaha, crazy prices. A fail before starting.
  5. Axle Grease

    Axle Grease TS Booster Posts: 103   +37

    I periodically build a high end gaming PC to get the most visual sugar from of AAA titles. For me the entry into VR is the cost of the VR kit and a few games. If I had no interest in high end gaming PCs, I'd never consider buying a Vive nor the Rift.
    wastedkill likes this.
  6. MikeyMikey

    MikeyMikey TS Rookie

    Its expensive but oh well. I'll just have to start saving up now or put one of em on deferred payments. I'm gonna probably go with ps4 vr and get a t300 steering and pedals with the extra money. I just have a feeling sony is going to offer more AAA titles. I could be wrong though, I bought the PS eye at launch and it has no use to this day
    gingerbill likes this.
  7. This is great, let all of the 'early adopters' sort it all out, in this case I won't be one of them. An exciting bit of kit once it matures more
  8. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,890   +1,224

    Right - a failure- just like $400 CD players in the 80's, $400 DVD players in the 90's, $1000 23" flat screen in 2000. those technologies all had very high prices when they were introduced, but it doesn't mean a failure, it's just a starting point. Be patient.

    Oh, and perhaps you missed the new Samsung S7, which is like $800, so it's not like it's a crazy price for tech. Apple sells big tablets for more than that and that's not cutting edge tech.
  9. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,355   +2,003

    At this rate we might start seeing them bundled with a $50 software package before the end of the decade!
  10. jauffins

    jauffins TS Enthusiast Posts: 85   +24

    This, and every other article or comment like it, always seems to miss the point. My desktop PC probably cost $2,500 - not including my $500 monitor. $600 is not a ton of money by comparison... that said, I'll use my $2,500 PC, and enjoy every damn minute of it, regardless. If I drop $600 on a VR headset (and VR is an idea I am behind), it may go the way of 3D... and then I'm out $600 for an item I may not use past the first year or two. This could then make the $600 VR headset a paperweight, whereas my $2,500 PC will keep chugging (and most of the components within will be viably high end for 3-5 years, and viable to play games for 5-7+ years, less the water cooled 980 Ti - a proposition with which I was familiar, prior to purchase).

    I didn't spend $600 (or any money, actually) on the now-dead 3D craze from 5-6 years ago, and I won't spend $600 on VR; not until it proves to be a lasting technology.
  11. jauffins

    jauffins TS Enthusiast Posts: 85   +24

    You seem to conveniently be forgetting HD-DVD and 3D, Mike. ;)
  12. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,890   +1,224

    Touche, but neither was a failure because of a high price. HD-DVD was totally useful and they failed because they were eclipsed by Blu-Ray (competing format - same technology). Will VR be eclipsed by a very similar competing tech? Maybe, but we don't know about one.

    As for 3D - that might be much more applicable. 3D turned out to be a gimmick. You had to wear glasses - it was expensive - etc. Maybe VR will be a gimmick too. I think 3D failed because it just wasn't that cool and there was a huge lack of content. The latter might be true of VR, but I expect it'll be plenty cool.

    You could also throw in OLED and Curved Screens and maybe even 4k UHD. But those are all just variants on HDTV. VR is completely different and new.
  13. jauffins

    jauffins TS Enthusiast Posts: 85   +24

    I'd like to think VR will last. Had the Rift been $300, or even $400, I'd have a pre-order. $600 is a bit much to gamble on new tech for me, though. What I found interesting is that, a friend of mine owns a very prominent "indie" dev studio and he follows almost all new hardware in the industry. We discussed the Rift before pre-orders were opened, and the day of, and we quickly came to the consensus that it was just too much. When he doesn't feel it's worth investing the (for him) relatively tiny price of entry, that tells me what I need to know: wait and see.
  14. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Posts: 7,674   +990

    FYI, the original article has been updated to add BOM (bill of materials) estimates from Goldman Sachs. It's the closest we could find to a reasonable estimate of what these headsets cost of production is until they are out there and teardowns are performed.

  15. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,108   +1,286

    Thanks a bunch for this.
  16. Chronik1130

    Chronik1130 TS Rookie

    It's really just simple economics. As you said, as long as people are willing to pay more for "early" adoption of new tech it will continue to cost more.

    Unless you're a developer or need the tech for some other business purpose I really don't see the reason behind "early adoption" other than bragging rights. I never adopt new tech early, I'd rather get it cheaper and after it's been significantly improved. Being an early adopter basically amounts to subsidizing the company's R&D and at that point you are really more of an investor and receiving that piece of technology is the only return on that investment that you are going to get. Personally, I'd rather be able to brag about spending half as much for a device as good or better next year rather than being able to brag about having it first.
  17. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,945   +765

    Way back in the 90's, there was a 3D headset that I bought that was awesome with the now ancient game "Descent 3D". Because the resolution of the device was limited to 320 x 200, I returned it for not being "future proof". I don't regret returning it because the 3D support in games basically disappeared not too long after it first appeared.

    At this point, it looks like VR is almost certainly here to stay this time. For me to adopt, I will need a new GPU and the device, but nothing else.

    I tend not to be an early adopter, so I will likely wait until the price of these goggles comes down. For me, the Samsung or Sony VR options are out of the question - my platform is PC. I want to enter the VR world, but not at the current prices. As astute techies know, the price on these will drop, as will prices on hardware that are capable of supporting them.

    I think it unfortunate that the BOM does not breakdown into individual components, but my bet is that for the devices using OLED, it is a majority of the cost right now, and, of course that price will drop.

    So, I'm waiting for a lower cost solution.
  18. Bob Jacobson

    Bob Jacobson TS Rookie

    As one of the virtual-worlds pioneers of the 90s, I believe Goldman Sachs is right on. The basic problem is that gaming is an inappropriate entry for high-end technology of the sort required for truly effective "VR" experiences. The proper gating is via simulation and industrial collaboration. Headsets today are only slightly improved version of headsets from the 80s and 90s. Immersion spaces and other more holistic experiential technologies resulted in huge inroads in architecture, defense, biology and medicine, GIS, crisis-planning, product development and other markets that we take for granted today. The obsession with gaming and headsets is retrograde. That investors are willing to buy in has more to do with speculation on stock prices than an historical, realistic understanding of what's worked in the past and what will best work in the present.
  19. Mirloc

    Mirloc TS Rookie

    Traditionally gaming drives hardware. There are precious few applications that push the envelope of hardware more than gaming, and purchasing higher end equipment has been associated with two fields traditionally, CAD users and gamers.

    Now if you do a quick look on any computer building site, and add "gaming" as an option, the price automatically jumps up by a fairly significant amount. Not just PCs put other hardware: keyboards, mice, and even monitors.

    VR will be hugely successful if gaming adopts it - truly adopts it, not making gimmicky add-ons like the coming and going of 3D TV and movies, but honestly makes full immersion experiences in the titles. To date I don't know of a single company willing to take the gamble and put production time and money into any titles.

    NVidia has had 3D support for their cards for a significantly cheaper price for years. Their 3D kit (not including the video card, which is pretty much every nvidia card made in the last 5 years) is $140 at Newegg, and it's not untested technology - it's just gimmicky. There's no real immersion, it's the same tired "3D effect" used in 3D movies for years.

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