VR Headsets Overview

VR will grow rapidly in 2016, because the technology is in a state where it reaches consumer price. There is one problem with the growth of VR which is that you can’t explain to someone how cool VR is. They need to try it. But obviously key players realize this and they are selling headsets at a manufacturing price and even giving them away for free (GearVR).

There will be a huge opportunity in the growing market for mid-sized companies as they are far more professional than most of the indie developers who are making games for VR now, but the market is still too small for the biggest AAA game developers to enter. Therefore now is the perfect time to make a name in VR industry.

Most important HMDs

These are just information I collected from various sources, some of them might be a little bit imprecise and might represent my opinion only. They are not official information provided by neither Google, Samsung, Oculus, HTC, Valve, Sony nor any legal entity representing the below mentioned headsets.

Legendupside | – downside | fact |  ? guess

VR_GoogleCardboard

Photo: othree (flickr.com – no changes made)

Google Cardboard

– pretty low quality (it’s up to debate if it’s even VR)

+ pretty low price as well

+ will grow rapidly because

+ the price is usually about $3-50

+ usually given free as a promotional material with company’s logo (NYTimes shipped 2 million to their readers)

+ fun fact: I’ve even seen a business card which could be used as a VR viewer

+ Number of shipped HDMs

+ 7 million shipped (confirmed)

? 15+ million shipped in my opinion

Samsung/Oculus GearVR

+ You get it for free with preorder of Galaxy S7. $99 sold separately.

+ Last year there were 20-25 million Galaxy S6 pre-ordered.

+ There were about 50-70 million Samsung flagship phones shipped in 2015 (not sure which were meant by flagships, but I suppose Notes and S-series)

+ very good quality as the most important parts for VR headsets are made by the manufacturers who are making the highest quality components – low persistence display by Samsung, optics and rotation tracking by Oculus

– the first generation doesn’t have positional tracking nor hand tracking

+ GearVR is expected to be at least 4 times bigger market than PC/console headsets

? at least few millions expected to ship in 2016

? will dominate western market

VR_OculusRift

Photo: Games For Change (flickr.com – no changes made)

Oculus Rift

+ preorders are already shipping, sold out until summer

= price $599

= needs gaming rig for $900. expecting the price to drop until summer when there will be more devices manufactured

= There are estimated 13 million people owning computers capable of running VR (mostly gamers = target audience)

Roomscale

– can do room-scale same as HTC Vive, but you need to buy another tracking camera

– hand tracking will be available in summer, but is very precise, and very ergonomic, it’s really like having your hands in the game

? another camera and hand controllers will be most probably in the default package same as Vive

? unknown number of headsets/preorders yet

+ in my opinion they will be the winner amongst PC/console headsets covering not only games but creating a whole platform like Apple (hardware+software), because of multiple reasons

+ Facebook bought it for $2bn

+ they do a lot of research (covering over 30 scientific areas)

+ Apple approach: good design, ergonomics, consumer ready product, it’s a pleasure to hold and look at, plug and play approach

? the killer app will probably be Metaverse (Facebook has the best experience and user-base to make it)

? around a million expected to ship in 2016

? will dominate western market

HTC Vive

+ preorders are already shipping, sold out until summer

= price $799

= needs gaming rig for $900. expecting the price to drop until summer when there will be more devices manufactured

= There are estimated 13 million people owning computers capable of running VR (mostly gamers = target audience)

+ room-scale tracking included

+ Chaperone system safeguards you so you don’t hit the wall (basically a depth camera that enables you to see your real-world surroundings while being in VR)

+ hand tracking included, but it feels like holding sticks in your hand

? unknown number of headsets/preorders yet

? hundreds of thousands expected to ship in 2016

? will dominate Chinese market

VR_PlaystationVR

Photo: KniBaron (flickr.com – no changes made)

Playstation VR

+ release on October

= price $499

= needs PS4 for $350

= there were circa 35 million PS4s sold

? room-scale – can track area of size cca 3x2m

+ tracked hand controllers included

– lower quality than Vive/Rift

+ far cheapest option to get PC/console gaming rig + headset + controllers

= different game lineup – more casual than HTC and Oculus

– very difficult for developers to develop and publish for PS as communication with Sony is problematic

? few millions expected to ship in 2016 (but can ramp up to higher numbers because of the install base and low cost)

? will dominate Japanese market

Roomscale comparison link

 


Martin is Head of VR Department in Pixel Federation, an independent game developer and publisher headquartered in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Cover photo: pdjohnson (flickr.com – no changes made)

 

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