Back in August, HTC announced that it would add support for the Oculus Rift to its Viveport Subscription service. Like the Oculus Store, Viveport is HTC’s method for distributing games and apps to its customer base without having to rely solely on a service like Steam and Steam VR.
That support has now gone live. Starting today, you can download and install Viveport if you’re an Oculus Rift owner (HTC has published a blog post with details on how to go about doing this). The process should be relatively straightforward if you’ve configured a VR headset before, though it’s worth noting that configuring VR headsets to work with multiple applications at once remains a rather kludgy process. Amazon’s one-click ordering, this ain’t.
The general hassle of getting VR working on a new system or all the various pieces of software to always play nicely notwithstanding, Viveport’s subscription offer — pay $ 19.99 for three months (working out to $ 6.66 per month). In return, you can play up to five games per month. I’m not much in favor of this kind of offer because it doesn’t offer you much if it turns out one or more of the choices you’ve selected are lousy games. It would be nice if the Vive offered, say, a 60-minute timer to try a game and opt not to spend a token on it, should the game not be to your liking.
But with that said, HTC is making the right move here. It isn’t clear which company has sold the most headsets to date between HTC and Oculus, though we know the PSVR has sold more than three million headsets total, making it the market leader in consumer VR in terms of unit shipments. But the Steam Hardware Survey’s now-corrected numbers suggest that 0.35 percent of customers own a Rift, 0.32 percent own a Vive, 0.05 percent have a Windows Mixed Reality headset, with the Vive Pro (0.01 percent) and Rift DK2 (0.01 percent) bringing up the rear. The implication here is that the two firms are fairly close — add up the bits, and Oculus-branded headsets are at 0.36 percent to 0.33 percent for HTC. These are not the kinds of numbers that sends analysts running to advise the game industry that the world is about to change.
But they are the kind of numbers that suggests an alliance between the two firms could be meaningfully useful in terms of expanding VR’s tiny market share. This is a point we’ve argued since it became clear virtual reality would be coming to market in the first place. While we understand that companies like Oculus and HTC want to build their own brands and domain presence, VR is not an easy hobby to enter right now. The more barriers to entry that these firms can remove, the better off everyone is going to be.