Australian prices and release dates for Virtual Reality software like Facebook’s Oculus Rift, Sony’s PlayStation VR and the HTC Vive have been released.
The Oculus Rift, bought by Facebook in March 2014 for release this May, is priced at US$649 and is not being priced locally for an Australian audience. Including shipping, the headset will cost about AU$1025 plus the cost of a PC capable of supporting the hardware.
The HTC Vive has an estimated price of AU$1180 including shipping, and will be released 5 April, and backed by Valve – one of the biggest supplier of PC games in the market. With built-in support for Steam, the major platform for most PC gamers, the Vive is primed to capture many of the most dedicated tech-enthusiasts already invested in high-end gaming.
Sony, on the other hand, is targeting the console gaming market with the PlayStation VR headset. The PSVR Headset is priced at AU$549, but requires a PS4 console and a PS camera, bringing the final cost ~AU$1110.
Media and political blogger, Thomas Hartnett said the options are too expensive.
“I’m not entirely sure if the first wave of VR is targeted at mainstream audiences,” Mr Hartnett said.
“If they wanted to target a mainstream audience they would have dropped the price or included hardware that could run VR, not sell it separately.”
There are cheaper options on the market which do not require the use of a powerful PC. The Samsung Gear, priced at AU$299, requires the user only have a compatible phone.
Additionally, the Google Cardboard is priced at AU$24.95, and works with a multitude of phones to produce a low-end VR experience.
“Having a lower price-point and targeting an audience that already has the hardware [a mobile phone] is a much better idea,” Mr Hartnett said.
“Users can get the rough experience of what the high-cost VR systems provide without breaking the bank.”
“VR Headsets rely heavily on the comfort of the user and their eyes,” he said.
“So a version that lacks the sharp screen or comfortable headset might make casual users make up their mind prematurely.”
VR headsets can do more than provide an enhanced gaming experience. VR sets allow users to watch videos in full 360 degrees or browse the web in a new and innovative way.
“I think what excites me the most though is the uses outside of gaming,” Mr Hartnett said.
“I heard that doctors could use VR to perform surgeries in a completely different location to the patient. That would be a fantastic application of VR and is the one I am most excited about.”
“I’d love to use VR with 3D modelling at some point…the augmented reality has so many possibilities, but the set up at this point is pretty high cost,” Mr Naoum said.