HTC Slashes the Vive’s Price to $599, But The Platform Isn’t Moving

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Today, HTC announced that it would slash the price on the Vive by $ 200, cutting it from $ 800 to $ 600. This is the first price cut the Vive has seen, and it’s undoubtedly a move to compete with Oculus, which has been selling the Rift + Touch for $ 400 this year. Matthew Gepp, writing for Vive, notes:

Starting today (8/21), we are reducing the price of Vive by $ 200. The high-end, PC-based consumer Vive that is in market today, and will be for the foreseeable future, will now be available for $ 599. All Vive purchases come with a free trial to Viveport Subscription, where consumers can choose up to 5 titles per month to experience, and copies of some of the most popular pieces of VR in Google’s Tilt Brush, EverestVR, and Richie’s Plank Experience.

The company also notes that both Doom VR and Fallout VR are coming. I haven’t played the VR version of either title, but if I had to bet, I’d bet on Doom being the vastly superior game. Bethesda’s Creation Engine is 6 years old and still has some roots in the even older Gamebryo code. That’s not to say there’s something wrong with it, but Doom runs beautifully, even on midrange hardware. Fallout 4, at least when I played through it, had a distinct tendency to chug in certain spots, even with top-end hardware.

Viveport

What’s more significant about this blog post is what it doesn’t mention: Steam. Oculus has some explanation for why they play up their own Oculus Store as opposed to Steam — they’re trying to build a platform for their own hardware, and every customer that uses Steam is a customer that isn’t buying games from/through Oculus. Vive’s decision to try and push their own Viveport solution as opposed to emphasizing Steam is a calculated one. We spot-checked multiple titles offered through Viveport and every single one of them was available on Valve’s platform already. That doesn’t make Viveport a bad deal if you prefer to test 5 games per month (monthly fee: $ 5.99) as opposed to buying them outright, but it implies Vive is trying to raise money on subscriptions that it isn’t bringing in from hardware sales.

We’ve been charting the growth of HTC and Oculus on Steam since last year. Here’s how the things look today:

VRMarketShare

In the past six months, Oculus has grown its market share from 0.11% of Steam users to 0.14%. That’s a gain of 1.27x, and while it’s absolutely tiny in real terms, it still shows signs of growth, however tepid. HTC, on the other hand, has been stalled since February. And to be clear, while Oculus could be gathering its own customers primarily to its own store front, there’s no reason to think the same thing is happening with HTC. Steam is the best place to see any shift in user figures, since that’s where Vive owners are going to go.

At best this suggests that gamers are setting the Vive aside after purchase and no longer using it, with their attrition rate roughly equal to the new purchase rate. I say “best,” because while this outcome isn’t great, it does have a solution. Add some killer VR games, and gamers will come back. At worse, it suggests that Vive sales fell off a cliff once Oculus launched its own touch controllers.

Hopefully this price cut stirs some interest in VR. At this rate, it’s going to be decades before it catches on.

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