GDC 2017: $200 Off Oculus Rift and Touch

Subject: General Tech | March 2, 2017 - 02:59 AM |
Tagged: Oculus, VR, pc gaming

Alongside the release of Robo Recall from Epic Games, which is free of you own an Oculus Rift and the Oculus Touch controllers, Oculus has changed up how you can purchase the Oculus Rift. As was the case since the Touch controllers shipped, the Oculus Rift is bundled with these motion controllers. The difference is that, now, the bundle will cost $598 USD. This is a $200 reduction in price compared to someone who purchased the headset and the controllers separately last week. The controllers, alone, are now $99 USD.

So this is interesting.

According to recent statements by Gabe Newell, who is obviously in the HTC Vive camp, the VR market doesn’t have “a compelling reason for people to spend 20 hours a day in VR”. This assertion was intended to dispel the opinion that a price cut would help VR along. From his perspective, VR will have a huge bump in resolution and frame rate within one or two years, and current headsets are basically the minimum of adequacy.

So, from both a software and technology standpoint, VR can benefit from more time in the oven before tossing it down the garbage disposal. I see that point and I agree with it, but only to a point. A price reduction can still help in several ways. First, the games industry has made some drastic shifts toward the individual. Free tools, from IDEs to AAA-quality game engines, seem to be picking up in adoption. A high entry fee for a segment of that mind share will push those with creative ideas elsewhere.

But, probably more importantly, even if the market is small, pulling in more users makes it grow. The more lead users that you can acquire, the more risk can be attempted, which will make an even better situation for whenever we need to start considering mass market. Imagine if a factor of two increase in user base would be enough for Microsoft (or Linux distros) to consider virtual desktops for VR. If we reach that threshold a year or two sooner, then it will have a more significant impact on the value for mainstream users whenever the technology catches up to their interest.

And yes, this is coming from the guy who is currently surrounded by four monitors...

Anyway, rant aside, Oculus has jumped in to a significant price reduction. This should get it into the hands of more people, assuming the injunction order doesn’t get accepted and drop on them like a hammer.

Source: Oculus

March 2, 2017 | 07:37 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

HTC Vive sells more units not because it is cheaper but because it is better engineered (mostly inside out tracking). PS VR is still the best choice for those who want affordable solution.

March 2, 2017 | 10:23 AM - Posted by pessimistic_observer (not verified)

I disagree there are alot of factors into why the vive has sold slightly better than the rift 1. it was first to market
2. it was first to market with hand controls
3. it was in china first
4. both headsets had issues fulfilling orders on launch vive was the first to correct stock issues.
The going trend appears to be valve/htc have been faster than oculus. Yet with all that they both fall to wayside of ps vr. So pricing will matter its just a question of if its enough to over come other shortcomings.

March 2, 2017 | 08:14 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

"mostly inside out tracking"

Lighthouse is outside-in tracking. All coordinates are relative to the fixed basestations, not to the moving objects. That is the defining feature of an outside-in system (looking at photon direction is an easy shorthand for cameras, but misleading if you're not using cameras).

As an example: both Lighthouse and Constellation set up in the same manner (camera/basestation in opposing corners) will return a stream of IMU data and a pair of coordinate matrices. The coordinates for both will be spherical coordinates relative to opposing corners of the worldspace. Both will perform a model-fit to turn those coord arrays into a reference pose, and the IMU data is then combined through sensor fusion (e.g. Kalman filter) to get a more recently updated pose.

Because both systems are optical line-of-sight systems, both are vulnerable to identical occlusion situations.