HTC has cut the price of its Vive virtual reality headset by $200, bringing the system’s cost down to $599. The discount is meant to stimulate consumer interest in the system, and make it easier to afford accessories, including the Vive Tracker that went on sale earlier this year. It also comes with a one-month free trial of HTC’s Viveport subscription service, which offers access to a selection of VR games. “We want to really significantly boost VR adoption now across the globe,” says Vive US general manager Dan O’Brien, as the Vive’s second holiday season approaches. “We think now is the right time to reset the price.”
This price drop mirrors the Oculus Rift’s $200 price cut in March, and it brings the Vive closer to the Rift’s current $499 list price. (It’s temporarily $399 as part of a summer sale.) O’Brien says that just like Oculus has promised with the Rift, the current-generation Vive isn’t going away any time soon. “This is not about clearing the channel to make room for another product. We do expect this version of Vive to stay in market well into 2018,” he says. Users can upgrade it with wireless adapters, a new head strap, and other other add-ons. “We don’t want users to feel like they’re always having to be [up-sold] into new hardware. We do want to make sure that things that we make around the Vive today continue to work with it.”
O’Brien notes that HTC has upgraded elements like the Vive’s cable system without declaring a new generation of hardware, and says that kind of iterative design will probably continue for some time. However, Vive co-creator Valve has been showing off one upgrade that might not come out for a while: a set of majorly redesigned motion controllers. O’Brien says the new controllers are still in their prototype stage, though developers have started getting versions of them for testing. “We’re still working on consumer versions of those.”
The new price cut doesn’t affect the Vive’s $1,200 Business Edition package, which is aimed at arcades and other commercial enterprises. O’Brien says that these commercial editions make up a minority of Vive sales, but they’re still a substantial part of the business — especially in China, where HTC estimates that they’re in 60 to 70 percent of an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 total arcades in the country.
The Vive’s intense setup process and general clunkiness still makes it more of a choice for hardcore enthusiasts than casual VR buyers. But today’s discount is good news for anyone who’s been interested in the system but balked at its previous $799 price tag, especially since VR-ready computers have gotten significantly cheaper since its launch in the spring of 2016.
Correction: The Oculus Rift is currently $499, not $599.