For its anniversary, HTC Vive has gone down in price by $100, from $800 to $700. Keep in mind; this discount was valid only on April 5th. There is a high possibility that the reason for this was due to competitor Oculus lowering the total cost of Rift by total of $200. Rift headset used to be $600 and now is $500, and Touch controllers used to be $200, now $100 ($600 in total).
In case of HTC Vive, “monkey see monkey do” may not be a correct terminology, especially in case of hardware selling strategy in relation to its competitors. Aside from anniversary day sale, the temporary price drop may not be a significant advantage when it comes to unit sales. However, according to recent data, the amount of units sold by each manufacturer, places the HTC Vive ahead of its main competitor Oculus Rift.* This further explains why the $100 discount sale only lasted for one day. Their strategy is clearly shifting towards VR software distribution, further emphasized by creation of VR monthly subscription plan; explained below…
Let us take a step back and compare the strategy of each company when it comes to sales of hardware and software distribution.
Oculus, owned by Facebook, its main source of profit is the VR software. This could explain its permanent drop in price for the Oculus Rift; and hints the life expectancy of the headset itself. A large amount of money is invested by Oculus to encourage VR game development; as much as $250 million dollars each year.* This money is given to game developers as compensation for the uncertainty in potential video game production loss; because there is no guarantee that you will make money by developing for VR. In relation to Rift, Oculus has mentioned and implied many times that the cost of hardware will go down; of course, indicating that cost of computer hardware will go down as well-especially hardware capable of providing a compelling VR experience.
On the other hand…
Valve in collaboration with HTC; initially, their focus has never been to provide premium VR experiences in form of AAA titles; this however has recently changed with talks about Fallout 3 VR and other undisclosed titles. Yes, Steam platform (Valve Company) has provided compelling VR demos that showcase virtual reality but has never gone out of their way to support VR developers directly with monetary compensation to encourage VR game production. They have only provided tools needed to develop VR content. To be fair, Steam’s main purpose is to make money on video games in general, as the main head honcho of software distribution. This may change simply because on its anniversary for HTC Vive, Valve has announced a monthly subscription plan that costs $7 per month for VR content specifically, named Viveport. When you subscribe, you will have an option to choose 5 VR titles from available content, and a month later, you can choose differently or keep existing games; sort of game rental service.
Regardless of whether monkey-see-monkey-do situation is the most correct way of describing current premium VR ecosystem, each company is certainly doing their best to support VR and profit from it.
For now, each headset provides very similar and enjoyable experiences at premium cost, but we should consider the fact that a whole year has passed since the consumer release and high-end VR ownership is still really expensive; not to mention having to buy a PC that can run games at 90fps=VR Ready.
Do you have Vive or Rift?