We’re at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, bringing you the latest tech and smartphone news straight from the show floor. Catch up with what’s happened so far on our dedicated MWC page.
There’s been a lot of complaint about the price of virtual reality gear this year, first with grumblers moaning about the cost of the Oculus Rift and now, never-smiles finding fault with the HTC Vive‘s just-announced consumer price of $799 (£689 in the UK). While the Vive is more expensive than the $600 Oculus, it comes with two motion controllers and a bunch of extra features. But that’s not even the point.
It’s quite amazing to think we live in a world where the virtual reality technology we’ve been promised since dodgy 80s sci-fi has actually come to life, in a form small enough to fit on your head, at a cost people routinely splurge on phones they replace every year. And yet the whole world seems to be annoyed about it.
Pretty ridiculous that the prices for VR like HTC Vive are so high, considering the fact that VR content is still nothing special.— Derek D (@DukeD1989) February 21, 2016
#htcvive is $800. Oculus is around the same for Europe shipping.— Rob (@rbsfz) February 21, 2016
Way too expensive for a first gen with a handful of games announced.
$800 for the HTC Vive?!?! More like HTC Retrieve... all my life savings so I can begin to afford it.— Gavin (@gavgamez) February 21, 2016
Can we just take a second to think about that? The first ever home-ready virtual reality headsets – kits that transport you into fantasy worlds and let you move about in them – are available this year for prices in the hundreds, not thousands of pounds. And people think this is bad. Yes, we want the VR market to be as wide as possible. Yes, in most cases you still need a high-end PC, which’ll cost you a lot more if you don’t have one already. But you get actual virtual reality. In your house. What more do you people want?!
Of course the first consumer edition of any piece of tech is going to be expensive. EVERY first edition of any piece of tech is expensive. People used to spend thousands on home PCs. The price will come down, and it’s not like this is something you’re required to own. It’s probably the dictionary definition of “luxury” and yet Twitter rage-a-trons are acting as if you’re taking food out of their children’s mouths by charging fair prices for completely unnecessary but awesome tech. If you think it’s too much, don’t buy it. Feed your kids. Play games on your £600 smartphone. Hell, plug said smartphone into a £20 Google Cardboard and do VR that way. The door’s not even closed. It’s just that the best (in our opinion) VR headset is actually going to cost proper money, and this is somehow a surprise?
Maybe people don’t realise that their smartphones cost £600 because they buy them on a monthly contract. Maybe VR manufacturers and vendors like Carphone Warehouse need to consider offering contracts on other types of tech, too. But you know what? A lot of those people seem to have managed budgeting for 52-inch TVs and latest-generation games consoles. Is it really so much to ask that if they want to play around being Godzilla stamping on buildings in their living room, they spend half a grand on it?
Now, before someone accuses me of being out of touch with both money and reality, I’d like to remind you that I am an online journalist. Online journalists, let me tell you, are not rich. We are not even comfortable. We eat noodles for dinner and review smartphones we can’t afford. I will absolutely not be buying the HTC Vive and nor do I have a computer good enough to run it. But I think it’s an absolutely fair price for the incomparable experience of stepping into another universe, and I defy anyone to convince me otherwise.
Main image: HTC