HTC Vive Pre-Orders Begin Feb 29th, Release April

The HTC Vive virtual reality headset will be available to pre-order from February 29th, HTC’s chief executive has told The Telegraph. This news arrives a week after the Oculus Rift headset started accepting pre-orders and announced its $600 price tag.

It’s still unknown how much the Vive will cost, of course, but I’m betting it’ll be in the same ballpark.

Last week also brought other Vive news, as HTC revealed that an earlier delay was so they could add a camera to the front of the headset. This let’s you see out into the real world without taking your headset off, and should also allow games to blend elements of reality into the game world as you play. Good news given the small size of the living room I’m likely to be using the Vive in.

Unlike the Oculus, the Vive is designed for ‘room-scale’ VR, meaning you walk around physical space while wearing it and your steps are mapped into the game world. That’s what won me over when I tried an early version of the device at Valve’s GDC booth last March. The Oculus Rift feels great in cockpit-based games and slightly strange in anything else, whereas the Vive hints at potential for new and unique experiences.

In that same Telegraph story, HTC chief executive Cher Wang said that the release of the Vive marked a shift in focus from smartphones and towards the VR market. “Yes, smartphones are important, but to create a natural extension to other connected devices like wearables and virtual reality is more important,” she said. This is in part because the company was struggling in that market. “I think the problem was competition,” said Wang. “Apple, Xiaomi, these companies spend tons of money on communications and marketing, they pump a huge amount of investment into the market.”

I’m unlikely to be able to afford the Vive when it’s released, and although I’m excited to use it, first generations of new technology are normally nowhere near as good as even the second or third generations, which are bound to be cheaper, too. Come February 29th, will you wait for reviews, wait for the next iteration, or pre-order instantly?

61 Comments

  1. Xan says:

    Preorder immediately, if they ship to Switzerland unlike bloody Oculus.

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      Thirith says:

      Tell me about it. I’m still leaning more towards Oculus Rift, mainly because the whole livingroom experience won’t happen in my case, and I don’t need gear that’s, well, geared towards that sort of usage. Still, why not Switzerland? Do they hate cheese and chocolate? Is it because they think we don’t have the money?!

      • Chaz says:

        Maybe it’s the cuckoo clocks made out of Nazi gold or the hunger and tedium inflicted by cooking with a fondue?

    • Agnosticus says:

      Little hint: Services like Logoix or buybuy let you buy it anyway.

      It works for Austria at least and it’s just a ~4€ fee, IIRC.

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        Thirith says:

        You know, the less irrationally excited part of me thinks, “This is actually good. I can wait and see what people say about Oculus Rift and the Vive. I’ll have time to make an informed decision. Who knows, neither of them might be very good. I’m not losing anything by only hopping onto the VR train a few months later.”

        It’s just difficult to hear that more mature part next to the part of me that’s been throwing a tantrum and screaming its head off ever since it realised that there aren’t any preorder options to Switzerland at the moment.

        • Agnosticus says:

          I’d just await how this is playing out.

          …or bribe a tobacconist in Constance ;)

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            Thirith says:

            Hey, I waited ten years for the woman I loved, and it was totally worth it. Virtual Reality doesn’t even begin to compare.

            :-D

          • Vorrin says:

            Just logged in to say Thirith’s comment just above this, is one of the nicest ever.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Which is especially hilarious for the rift considering that, for the price, it could very well have a “Made in Switzerland” label.

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      Don Reba says:

      How do you expect them to ship it over those mountains?

      • Hedgeclipper says:

        Attached to a St. Bernard of course.

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          Thirith says:

          You mean, the St. Bernard would be wearing the Oculus Rift? Why? To distract itself from the snow and ice?

          … I’m pretty sure I played that exact situation in an early ’90s adventure game.

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      particlese says:

      I’ll be extremely tempted to pre-order for the same reason. Oculus did put a half-odd “What country are you in, and what’s the VAT there?” question in their survey for Kickstarter DK1 backers, so I’m hopeful they plan to work out the formalities sometime soon. People seem kinda nuts about toys and gadgets here, but maybe Oculus just assumes they’ll be quickly abandoned in favour of meatspace hiking expeditions.

      on the Vive side, I’m not horrendously optimistic since Steam hardware is still merely “coming soon”. But they do sell in francs now, so at least they have the moneychanging part in order.

      The more rational part of me hopes they both drag their feet so I can wait for the FinFET+HBM upgrade party later this year without having ants in my pants.

  2. Hobbes says:

    It’s all going to hinge on the price. If HTC/Valve come in at the magic £350 mark (and equivalents), even if it means taking losses for the first generation as a result, they will bury OcuFace as a direct result, as the technology is more or less like for like, and Valve is pushing the OpenVR platform, which unlike OcuFace, is an open set of API’s which if adopted, will hopefully form a baseline standard much like DirectX has with 3D gaming.

    • Hobbes says:

      Ugh, terrible grammar on my part. That’ll teach me to post with less than half a dozen coffees in my system. MY WORLD FOR AN EDIT BUTTON RPS!

    • derbefrier says:

      i think people are crazy expecting it to be that much cheaper. they already said it will be more than the OR ( back when everyone thought it was going to around 350 bucks)and has been sold as a “premium VR experience” unlike the OR which was billed as “affordable VR” honestly for what it is, it would not surprise me to see a price tag closer to a grand. I think peoples expectations on the price of the vive are waaaaaaay off.

      • Sakkura says:

        Well if they were saying more expensive compared to the old $350 price tag for the Rift, then maybe the Vive won’t actually be more expensive. I don’t see it being substantially cheaper though.

        • plsgodontvisitheforums_ says:

          I’m pretty sure HTC were able to pretty accurately estimate what it costs to make a decent VR headset and therefore the price point of the OR.

          • Sakkura says:

            Estimating cost and estimating price are two quite different things.

          • FriendlyFire says:

            The Oculus Rift is allegedly sold at cost or close to. I have no reason to doubt Luckey on that particular point.

          • Dave L. says:

            There’s a good chance that ‘at cost’ for Faceulus is quite a bit more than ‘at cost’ is for HTC. Vive manufacturing is largely retooling HTC’s existing and long standing supply chain, while Facebook very publically spent 2 billion dollars to acquire a hardware company thus announcing their intention to start making hardware no matter the price. That put them in a REALLY BAD negotiating position with suppliers.

            Expect the Vive to be within $150 of Oculus’s price.

    • Cinek says:

      It will be more expensive than Oculus. The only question is: how much more. Don’t even thing about 350 – it’s out of question.

      • Cinek says:

        *think

        • Cinek says:

          Oh, and BTW: If it will run on higher resolution and/or higher refresh rate – it will also have higher recommended specs, which means – you’ll have to pay for a more expensive upgrade for your PC (unless you already have a monster able to run it, in which case: price shouldn’t be much of a concern).

          • Sakkura says:

            We already know the resolution and refresh rate is the same.

    • Slackar says:

      “will hopefully form a baseline standard much like DirectX has with 3D gaming.”
      I sure hope not just like DirectX, which is one of the main reasons I can’t run most games on Linux or Mac.

  3. DeFrank says:

    Cher Wang.

    *smirk*

  4. Agnosticus says:

    “…it’ll be in the same ballpark”

    Love you, RPS!

    • Tutamun says:

      lol!

      Did not notice this while reading. Thanks for pointing this out to my stupid me. :)

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        Ah. That kind of deliberate usage could only be done by a non-American writer, because otherwise it seems like just a completely normal phrase, even knowing the context.

      • Thankmar says:

        Honest question: Could anyone explain the ballpark thing for me, is this is some kind of pun in this case? I’m sure I heard of “ballpark” for the first time from Luckey, and, being non-native english speaking, reading it here, I actually thought, gee, thats getting overused now. Is it just the reference to Oculus in an article about Vive, is it such an unusual thing to say (which you cannot tell when english is not your native tongue, you just assume you did not here it before) or is there more to it?

        • molamolacolacake says:

          “In the ballpark” is a fairly common idiom in the U.S., though I can’t tell you the origin (except that we love baseball, I guess?). It basically means a rough estimate or “right around in that area.”

          I’m guessing it’s not an idiom used in the UK, however, based on this comment string.

    • SuicideKing says:

      $1200 confirmed

  5. seroto9 says:

    Isn’t the plan that Half Life 3 is a Vive exclusive?

    It was the solution to the Xmas gingerbread man puzzle, according to my cat (I don’t own a cat).

  6. Xzi says:

    I’d expect $800 at least, depending on what extras it comes with. I sure hope they at least give package options for the Vive, unlike the Rift. IE one with full room-tracking, one with just a headset and single tracker for sitting experiences. Both with the VR controllers of course, which is where the Vive has the leg up.

    • Hobbes says:

      See, this is where I have a difference in opinion with the bulk of people. Everyone’s looked at Oculus’s price point and said “There’s no way that the Vive will be cheaper”.

      Why not?

      Valve could quite easily subsidise the Vive.

      If they can pull the price down -enough- to bring it in below Oculus (and there’s really good reasons to do so) by subsidising it, they’ll capture market share. Right now that’s what is important, not short term profitability. Profitability comes later, getting market share and market penetration, THAT is what is important. Oculus won’t get that with the price point they’re asking, not quickly.

      So what’s to stop Valve going “You know what, we can subsidise the hardware, bring it down to say $450-475 or thereabouts, and rip the bottom out of Oculus’s offering.”

      The consequences? Oculus becomes a niche product for people with more money than sense, the Vive becomes the default VR product. Fair to say that’d put dear old Luckey in a pretty horrible position. If I was HTC and Valve I’d be giving some real thought about the option of using the price point to put a knife into Oculus right now.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        Valve didn’t subsidize the Steam Controller, the Steam Link or any Steam Machine. What makes you think they’d do that with the Vive, which doesn’t even bear their name?

        • Hobbes says:

          The Steam Link is pretty good value considering what it is, and the controller makes sense IF you’ve already gone for the Link, neither are particularly high cost investments to begin with.

          Steam Machines are entirely third party controlled, and therefore at the whims of component cost. The odds of Valve conferring “preferred supplier” status in such a case are fairly minimal considering the number of providers. Whereas there’s only one headset in town, and that’s the Vive Pre.

          If there was ever an opportunity to take a slice out of a market, this is it.

      • Slackar says:

        “See, this is where I have a difference in opinion with the bulk of people. Everyone’s looked at Oculus’s price point and said “There’s no way that the Vive will be cheaper”.

        Why not?”

        Probably because of this, not that they can’t change their mind, of course:

        “We want to deliver the most premium VR experience the world has seen. That’s not marketing speak, but more about where Vive is positioned in the market. This is at the high end,” Gattis says.

        “Starting with the premium experience, even if it has a slightly higher price point, is the right thing to do from a strategic point of view. The price can always come down as the market grows. We know there is some pent up demand there, so there’s not so much price sensitivity early on. But to get the broader consumer adoption we’re all hoping for, the industry will have to drive price down to make it more accessible.”
        Jeff Gattis, HTC Head of marketing

        • Hobbes says:

          Except now they know that Oculus is trying for that segment, so it makes little sense to try and out Oculus Oculus, if you follow me. The better route would be to work with Valve who (not being funny, have an insane warchest) could subsidise the first iteration of the ValveVR headsets, keep them at a vaguely sensible price, and effectively lock out Oculus or keep them in the margins.

          Then as component prices come down, the profitability comes of its’ own accord once the market share and penetration are locked in. That would be the more sensible long term strategy (it’s worked for Microsoft in the past pretty reliably – first Xbox, and for Sony – see the PS1 for an example of loss leader tactics).

          • Premium User Badge

            DuncUK says:

            You can’t really compare console loss leader tactics with VR gaming. Consoles are often sold as a loss leader in order to guarantee a user base from which you can then recoup your losses by selling games. Sony and Microsoft make money from every game sale for their platforms. This simply won’t be the case for Occulus. Valve may well make money from every (Steam) sale, but then this was the case already… the Vive doesn’t really change that.

          • Hobbes says:

            Except I can, because what this is about is platform lock in :)

            If you need to ask what I’m referring to here, you’re clearly not looking at this with the right frame of mind.

            Oculus is positioning themselves as having their own store, with their own platform and API’s and whatnot.

            Steam VR will be running through Steam’s platform and with OpenVR as the API and HAL setup.

            Loss leader tactics for the headset suddenly become extremely valid when you’re looking at locking in the market section and guaranteeing that all those VR users are going to be using YOUR platform for the games to be released and YOUR specifications in the future.

            Again, you need to think beyond the first generation hardware when you’re discussing VR as a “thing”, everyone’s staring at the initial pricetag and discussing that as a dividing line but that’s merely the start of said discussion, what this is -really- about is the opening of a market, namely Virtual Reality consumers, which will become real enough if a company decides to come in at the right price with the right headset. Oculus may find themselves at with the right headset, but the wrong price if someone like Sony or HTC come up with an equivalent offering but can come in lower by subsidizing the headset to make it able to capture the early market more effectively.

            Think five years plus when you’re discussing Virtual Reality right now, it won’t flop, but perhaps we’re not thinking about how it will take off the right way, it’s going to be a bit like how stuff happened with the NES, it’s going to take a major player to come in with the right device at the right price to hit the market and open it up.

    • Erayos says:

      I can only agree with you on the package options stuff. I’m probably going to go with the Vive (can’t say OR managed to attract my attention), but being a guy in a wheelchair, I don’t really see the use of room-tracking. I’d probably pay the 600-800€ (with packaging pls) pricetag if I knew I’m not paying for something I can’t even use.

  7. Synesthesia says:

    I’m heavily leaning towards HTC, but I’m worried about compatibility. If it works with the stuff I want it too, namely ALL SIMS, (or maybe assetto corsa, dirt rally, FSX, DCS, Rise Of flight, BoS) I’ll get it.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    Well, my Oculus pre-order is in as of today — like, literally an hour before this news broke — so if they’re going to impress me enough to switch, they’ll need to do it before my Rift is ready to ship and my credit card gets charged.

    However, given that they intend to start shipping in April, it’s entirely possible I’ll actually end up with a Vive in my hands before the Rift would’ve been. That is, assuming they don’t immediately sell out and delay pre-orders until sometime after June.

    Guess we’ll see.

  9. mattevansc3 says:

    My main concern about the Vive would be with HTC itself. Quite simply with the OR you know the company is going to be around in the near future, HTC likely won’t.

    Their smartphone business has gone down the toilet. Its been releasing gimmicky products just to find a niche. Even their build quality has been brought into question. Their stock is at a ten year low and profits have steadily dwindled to a loss this quarter.

    Valve can afford for the Vive to sell in small numbers, HTC can’t.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      They’ll be around long enough to honor a 1-2 year warranty on purchased hardware. I’d just hope that Valve is completely in control of the software (drivers) and firmware.

      This is mostly a reason to be concerned about future generations of SteamVR hardware, not about the first Vive itself.

  10. celticdr says:

    Definitely getting my pre-order in for the Vive – I’ve been saving pennies since 2013 to get my hands on a HMD.

    Let’s hope the price is in the non-Luckey “ballpark” (i.e. not double the price people are expecting it to be – I’m expecting $750 USD).

    Viva Vive!

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    syllopsium says:

    ‘Room scale VR’ – I have to admit this, and the linked article just sounds so limiting. OK, Oculus is a ‘bit odd’ in non cockpit type environments, but I’d rather have that over something painting itself into a room niche.

    Waiting for more reviews, regardless. I really do want a Rift, but it requires a whole system upgrade – there has to be multiple compelling single player (i.e. *not* Elite) experiences to plump for it.

    • PseudoKnight says:

      Interesting perspective. I see it as Oculus painting itself into a cockpit niche. Heh. Vive can do cockpit too. Maybe Oculus will do it better? (i’m curious to see the first image quality comparisons, response times, etc) But it seems Vive is clearly more flexible.

      • Asurmen says:

        Pretty sure Oculus said it can do room as well.

        • PseudoKnight says:

          It can, but mostly later when it comes out with the controllers. Vive appears to do it better, too. Time will tell, though.

  12. Tatzelwurm says:

    Hi. I am a first time poster! Anyway, I just wanted to say I think the upcoming Virtuix Omni sounds like it would have great synergy with the HTC Vive in particular. Since the Omni is essentially a VR integrated 360 degree treadmill, then hooking it up to a headset capable of ‘room’ tracking sounds like you could wander around to your heart’s content, and look one way while walking another etc.

    Combine Vive with Omni and you get a real walking simulator…

    • Dave L. says:

      A. Everybody who has used the Omni says it’s kind of garbage.

      B. The whole point of a 360 treadmill is that it holds you in one place while you pretend to walk. The whole point of the Vive is that it lets you actually walk around. These things are in direct opposition to each other.

      • Thankmar says:

        I do think you have a point with the vive/ omni-combination, but you do come across rather harsh.

      • DLFReporter says:

        It holds you in place, so you can pretend to walk without having to clear out a room and tripping over the wires of the Vive. I mean, not everyone has that space in his or her man/woman cave.

        I have a feeling that the Vive+Omni or the Cyberith could be a winner and once Oculus can do tracking in 360° it will also be viable for that setup. :)

        VR is expensive, it’s but nothing compared to what it would cost without a consumer market venture like OVR or Valve is planning.

  13. C0llic says:

    Waiting is a good idea for tech like this. Let the rich ones test it out for us :)