Is Virtual Reality selling?
At some point before reading this article, you must have heard about the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Playstation VR, or even the Samsung Gear VR. The powers that be are convinced that it is time to sell Virtual Reality to the masses.
The funny thing about VR though is the lack of polish and more importantly, content. As we know all too well during console wars, it’s the first party exclusives that win battles. I’ll break down the numbers and look at who is winning the VR race for now because apparently, people are buying this stuff.
The PlayStation VR is currently the most affordable Virtual Reality software you can find, costing only $300 for a bundle that comes with the headset, PlayStation Camera, and necessary cables. That is of course, only if you already own a PlayStation 4. If you don’t, well a PS4 alone is going to cost you $400 as well.
On top of that, the special PlayStation Move Motion controllers cost $99 for a pack of two and the PlayStation Move Navigation Controller will cost you $29.99. However, the PlayStation VR requires the least amount of set up. Once the PlayStation Camera and PlayStation VR headset are synced to your PS4, you are free to enter the Virtual Space.
PlayStation VR has a 5.7-inch Full HD OLED screen, with a 960 x 1080 resolution per eye, and a 120 Hz refresh rate. Sony has stated that they have officially sold over 3 million headsets and 21.9 million PlayStation VR games and experiences. As far as the gaming community is concerned, Sony is leading the way with sales.
The Oculus Rift will cost you $399.00 for the headset, two touch controllers, and two sensors. The Oculus Rift has a Full HD OLED panel for each eye, with a 1080 x 1200 resolution, and a 90 Hz refresh rate.
That being said, the $100 price difference between the Oculus and PlayStation VR might not sound so bad, but you must consider the PC requirements. Long story short, your PC (or laptop if you’re devoted enough) will need the following:
Graphics Card: NVIDIA GTX 1060 or higher or an AMD Radeon RX 480 or higher
Processor: Intel Core i5-4590 or better
Memory: 8GB or more of RAM
Those are just the recommended specs. As much as prices for PC parts fluctuate, the necessary graphics card alone can run you $400. A VR ready ASUS desktop goes for about $1,000, but it comes with all the components you need. Now back to the important stuff, the sales. The Oculus Rift hasn’t published any of its sales’ figures, however, the video game research company SuperData estimates that 243,000 Oculus Rift units were sold in 2016 alone.
The HTC Vive has the steepest price tag at $500. This includes the HTC Vive headset, two wireless controllers, and the necessary cables. The HTC Vive has a Full HD OLED panel for each eye, a 1400x 1600 resolution, and a 90 Hz refresh rate. This gives the Vive the best resolution of the three VR Headsets.
The Vive has recommended PC requirements similar to that of the Oculus Rift. When it’s all said and done, the Vive is more immersive. It comes with two sensors that you need to set up at opposite ends of the room. They come with mounting brackets that suggest wherever you install them, they’ll probably be permanent decorations.
The HTC Vive has the most time intensive set up and the most moving parts. The company has also refused to share any sales figures, but a blog entry by HTC in 2018 went on to say that the “Vive has paced at its highest sales velocity of all time, for weeks on end, and we sold out. For a consumer electronic product in its third calendar year, this continued trajectory is nearly unheard of.”
According to intelligence firm IDC, the HTC Vive has 35.7 percent of the VR market share in the first quarter of 2018. SuperData also estimates that 420,000 HTC Vive units were sold in 2016, which would put it ahead of the Oculus Rift that year.
To be honest, I don’t spend much time on the Samsung Gear VR because it’s geared towards mobile phones and a casual, non-gamer audience. Samsung Gear VR sales were given a boost because the company included the VR headset with Galaxy S Phones for both 2016 and 2017. The last known figure for Samsung Gear VR is 782,000 units in Q1 of 2017.
As for Xbox, while it doesn’t have its own VR headset, it does (or did) have the Kinect, which has sold some 30 million units in its lifetime. Unfortunately, the Kinect lost support after Xbox discontinued the sensor in 2017.
Nintendo, on the other hand, has a get out of VR free card via Nintendo Labo, a toy construction platform add-on for the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo Labo is proving to be lucrative, as it has already sold 1.39 million Labo units since it’s April 2018 launch. Nintendo Labo might pass for Augmented Reality in a weird way, but we’ll just categorize it under “other” for now.
Who sold the most?
Without any official numbers from Samsung or HTC, it is hard to determine who has sold more units. However, we do know that Sony has sold over 3 million PlayStation VR units, which leads us to the assumption that the PlayStation VR is leading the way in sales.
The barrier to entry can be high for your casual gamer who doesn’t have a high-end PC. Even with the rapid increase in technological savviness of younger generations, it just isn’t mainstream to know each component of your PC. PlayStation VR is the closest thing to plug and play when it comes to VR at the moment, which is why it has been the most successful platform.
Samsung Gear VR being as simple as it is could potentially outsell HTC and Occulus because of its ease of use. Time will tell if Virtual Reality actually takes off but what definitely keeps gamers coming back are quality video game experiences. If VR can provide that, it’ll inevitably become the next titan of the video game industry.
PS VR currently has an edge because titles like Resident Evil 7 and Elder Scrolls V have already made the switch to PS VR. So far these games have received positive reviews. With strong partnerships with developers already in place, PlayStation is poised to bring the first AAA VR game to market.