Virtual reality headsets come in a wide range of prices, with some being reasonably affordable while others can be quite expensive. Additionally, certain VR headsets necessitate a high-end and costly PC, further contributing to the overall high cost.
As we observe the prices of modern smartphones, TVs, and video games, it becomes evident that everything is becoming more expensive. However, when it comes to virtual reality (VR), what specific factors contribute to its relatively high cost as an investment? Well, in this article, we will understand those factors affecting the pricing of VR technology.
What is the cost of the most popular VR headsets?
While budget-friendly VR headsets are also available, they are not as widely used as other headsets and usually require a smartphone or a PC to run. Current best-selling VR headsets include Meta Quest 2 (formerly Oculus Quest 2, also Meta Quest 3 will be available soon), PSVR2, and HTC Vive Pro 2.
The Meta Quest 2, initially released as Oculus Quest 2, starts at $299.99, making it the most affordable high-quality VR headset currently available. Interestingly, two years after its launch, the Meta Quest 2’s price increased by $100, but it has since been reduced back to its original release price.
There are also high-priced options in the VR market, which appear to target businesses or developers, such as the Meta Quest Pro priced at $999, or Apple’s upcoming Vision Pro headset at $3,499. What specific aspects of VR technology contribute to the substantial cost of these headsets, whether they are standalone or not?
Let’s check out this further in the article.
What makes VR too expensive?
1. Abundance of Advanced and Costly Technology in VR Headsets
Virtual reality being a relatively new computer technology, entails significant research and development costs. While not all of these costs directly impact the final price of VR headsets for consumers, some do play a role. The continuous advancements in both software and hardware components used in VR headsets contribute to the higher current prices, which are expected to level out over time.
Drawing a parallel to early smartphones, they were expensive despite seemingly modest specifications. As smartphone technology progressed and internal components improved, the price-to-performance ratio evened out. Nowadays, consumers have the option to choose budget smartphones with excellent features or indulge in high-end flagship phones boasting stunning displays, top-tier cameras, and an array of intelligent functionalities.
In the future, there are high chances that the price of VR headsets may reduce like smartphones and other costly technologies. Currently, VR headsets are equipped with various sensors such as gyroscopes, motion- and eye-tracking sensors, and accelerometers to ensure accurate movement of the visuals seen through the lenses.
The display is often the most expensive component in many VR headsets due to the implementation of advanced technologies like OLED or AMOLED, which provide a smooth and less blurry viewing experience. Additionally, VR displays require high refresh rates and resolutions to enhance immersion and reduce motion sickness during usage.
2. Robust Design, Battery, and Speaker Requirements in VR Headsets
Unlike high-end PCs, which are usually stationary at home, VR headsets are designed to be portable. Their portability allows users to easily pack them for vacations or take them to a friend’s house. As a result, VR headsets must exhibit durability to endure the rigors of travel. For added protection, using a case when transporting the VR headset, especially during air travel or when seeking to avoid potential damage, is highly recommended.
The outside of your VR headset is made of hard plastic to endure regular wear and tear. Although the level of protection from accidental drops or falls is different, VR headsets are designed to reduce the risk of damage to the inside of your headset. While this will likely increase the cost of your headset, it will also protect your investment in the long run.
VR headsets often have limited battery life, and incorporating a battery system adds to the overall cost. Choosing a wired headset that connects to a high-end PC or console eliminates the need for constant charging, but it still involves batteries in the controllers. Additionally, VR headset manufacturers must allocate costs for premium speakers, as they significantly contribute to the immersive experience of virtual reality.
3. Limited Consumer Demand at Present
Currently, there is insufficient widespread interest in investing in VR headsets, as they are often perceived primarily as gaming consoles, and that’s where their primary strength lies. However, VR headsets offer diverse applications beyond gaming, such as watching movies, exploring distant places, and providing engaging workout experiences. As more individuals get exposed to virtual reality and recognize its benefits outside of gaming, the popularity of VR headsets is expected to increase, potentially leading to more affordable prices.
The law of supply and demand, with its exceptions, plays a role in this context. When a new product has limited production, its price tends to be higher to offset manufacturing costs. However, if consumer demand rises significantly, scaling up production may only result in a marginal increase in manufacturing costs, leading to a lower overall cost for each unit.
4. The Multifunctional Capabilities of VR Headsets
While VR headsets offer outstanding gaming experiences through both existing game ports and specially designed VR games, their capabilities extend far beyond gaming. The versatile VR technology is proving beneficial in addressing various mental health issues, such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, and phobias. Additionally, it provides an opportunity for people to virtually explore the world’s wonders, bridging physical or financial limitations that might otherwise prevent such experiences.
Virtual reality is also revolutionizing the entertainment industry in numerous ways. It enables individuals to partake in theater movie nights with online friends from the comfort of their homes, attend virtual nightclubs or concerts by their favorite artists, and even visit museums or experience live sports events with immersive realism.
Moreover, there are VR headsets specifically designed with a focus on non-gaming applications. For instance, Meta’s Quest Pro emphasizes work-related functionalities, allowing people to work from home and collaborate with others in virtual work environments. Similarly, Apple’s Vision Pro headset, though pricey, emphasizes its potential for professional use rather than gaming.
Well, virtual reality (VR) is undeniably an exciting and transformative technology, offering unprecedented experiences and applications across various industries. However, the initial cost of VR headsets and associated equipment can be a significant investment for many consumers. Factors like research and development expenses and the multifaceted capabilities of VR contribute to its relatively high price.
As VR technology continues to evolve, we can hope for increased consumer demand and further advancements that may eventually lead to more affordable and accessible VR solutions for everyone. Until then, early adopters and enthusiasts can enjoy the immersive world of VR, witnessing the remarkable potential it holds for shaping our future.