2016 kicks off the virtual reality renaissance gamers have been waiting for since the death of Nintendo’s Virtual Boy that launched in 1995. The technology has come a long way with headsets like the Oculus Rift and Sony’s PlayStation VR showcasing next generation graphical experiences for future titles.
The two headsets are leading the pack when it comes to applying VR in the gaming realm, with Oculus announcing its higher-than-expected price of $599 last week as consumer pre-orders finally opened up, with the first shipments announced to hit on March 28th. PlayStation VR, meanwhile, is expected to launch in the first half of 2016 with a significantly lower price tag. As both headsets near their respective launches, the marketing battle has begun between Oculus and Sony, with Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey chiming in on the debate between the two virtual reality platforms.
In an interview with IBTimes, Luckey spoke about PlayStation VR being a potential competitor, saying "their headset isn’t quite as high-end as ours — it’s still, I think, a good headset — and the PlayStation 4 is not nearly as powerful as our recommended spec for a PC.” He went on to explain that the two headsets are simply designed for different markets.
“I think that there’s not many people who already own a PS4 who don’t own a gaming PC who are going to go out and make that roughly $1,500 all-in investment in the Rift. It really is a separate market. They’re bringing virtual reality to a different group of people who I don’t think were ever really a part of our market anyway.”
Luckey makes a good point about the two headsets being made for two different crowds: the average console consumer that wants a high quality VR experience and the hardcore PC gamer that invests a lot to get the cream of the crop. It’s also worth noting that the Nvidia GTX 970, the minimum graphics card requirement to run the Oculus Rift, is priced equal to PlayStation 4’s $349.99 price tag alone, without including the rest of the PC that is required to run Oculus Rift titles. Luckey also noted, after being asked about the relationship between the two headsets, that there was some co-operation with Sony:
"I knew some people at Sony working on VR before I even started my Kickstarter campaign, actually, and we brought them in early on to show them what we were working on, to talk about what the minimum standards were for a good VR experience."
Amid the Sony vs. Oculus showdown, HTC has announced their Vive headset will be up for pre-order on February 29. The electronics manufacturer has partnered with Valve and has turned its focus onto virtual reality and away from smartphones with HTC co-founder Cher Wang, in an interview with the Telegraph, saying, "Yes, smartphones are important, but to create a natural extension to other connected devices like wearables and virtual reality is more important."
The Oculus Rift is available for pre-order now.