HTC Vive Vs. Oculus Rift: How Do The VR Headsets Compare?

Back in the day, I’d often get asked whether PlayStation or Xbox was best. Helpless efforts to argue “well, actually, PC is…” aside, I’d defuse their concerns about which had the superior graphics by naming which games you would or wouldn’t get on each. It’s not going to be any different for VR.

But for now, when numbers are really all we have, I’m going to list some numbers at you below. It’s too early to say for sure which headset you should buy if you’re planning on buying one at all, but this should help you to determine whether one virtual reality headset or the other might have better image quality or motion tracking.

Of course, if these things take off in mainstream gaming – and there’s a huge question mark over even that – there remains a strong chance that the industry will slowly favour one option over the other, for many and complicated development and funding reasons. If that happens, either one or more of the major headsets withers and dies, or everything homogenises in order to ensure that any given headset works on any given game. My point being, you simply can’t guarantee you’re buying the ‘best’ VR hardware simply by looking at the specs.

It’s going to come down to the experience, not simply the resolution or how many sensors there are. And the experience is a confluence of hardware and software; even if one headset does have superior hardware, that doesn’t guarantee that its exclusive games or applications are making the best use of it, or of the wider concept.

There are other factors to consider, too. The Valve/HTC Vive partnership could be argued to have more appeal, because it comes from an incredibly experienced games company and it’s doing more with full-body tracking, but on the other hand Oculus has the fully-armed and operational Facebook battlestation behind it, and we don’t yet know to what extent that will come to bear.

That very long proviso aside, let’s talk numbers. Or, at least, the numbers that we know – given neither of the big headsets are available yet, there’s still a chance any and everything could change.

Oculus Rift

Resolution: 2160×1200, or 1080×1200 per eye, at 90Hz

Sound: Integrated headphones

Motion detection: 6 degree of freedom rotational and positional tracking via the Oculus ‘Constellation’ system. This is a desk-mounted sensor array which tracks the movement of blinking LEDs on the main headset, with scope to also track additional peripherals fitted with similar LEDs. At launch, the Rift hardware can only track head movements.

Controller: Bundled Xbox One gamepad and wireless adaptor at launch; Oculus touch wireless motion controllers to follow later, as an additional purchase (price TBC).

Bundled non-games software: Oculus Home, a hub/store/dashboard seen when not running a specific application. Oculus Cinema, a networked virtual movie theatre which can display both conventional and VR movies; 5 VR shorts are planned for launch.

Bundled games: Multiplayer space dogfighter Eve: Valykrie; platformer Lucky’s Tale

Number of games projected to be available at or near launch: 67

Developer support: There’s a strong partnership with CCP for EVE Valkyrie, while big-name devs such as Square-Enix, Insomniac and Harmonix are making stuff for it. Perhaps more importantly, there’s Oculus Studios, set up specifically to help bring about Rift games. Additionally, the Rift Software Development Kit can integrate with the Unity, Unreal and CryEngine editors, theoretically allowing straightforward VR conversions.

Key strengths (IMHO): The Facebook backing; out before Vive; was providing hardware to devs long before Vive; wider potential for non-gaming applications; the publicly-seen hardware so far is lighter and less cumbersome than the Vive’s.

Key weaknesses (IMHO): Lack of Touch controllers at launch – a conventional gamepad when you can’t see it presents a steep learning curve; only tracks head movement; higher-than-hoped price; uncertainty around retail distribution; apparent lack of games experience compared to Valve.

Killer app (IMHO): Many have presumed some VR social tool will be the Rift’s backbone, given the Facebook involvement (some former Linden Labs/Second Life folk are already working on something in that vein), but I think the cinema stuff is what to watch. Not necessarily the VR-specific movies, but rather just truly big-screen movies without the practical issues of a big telly, and the potential to share the experience with mates without having to go round their houses. It also opens the door to Facebook doing their own Netflix, which I’m sure is on their minds.

Launch date: starting March for the earliest pre-orderers; pre-ordering now necessitates waiting until July.

Price: $599 before tax and shipping; exact costs vary per territory and depending on exchange rate. UK total price is around £530.

HTC Vive

Resolution: 2160×1200, or 1080×1200 per eye, at 90Hz

Integrated headphones promised but unseen as yet

Motion detection: 70 sensors including a MEMS gyroscope, accelerometer and laser positioning. Two ‘Lighthouse’ base stations track full-body movement around a 15′ x 15′ space. Front-facing camera on the headset can display a live feed of the real world, and automatically warn if the user is about to collide with an obstacle.

Controller: Two tracking wands, with buttons and touchpads in addition to motion detection.

Bundled non-games software: TBC, but Google’s VR art tool Tilt Brush seems likely.

Bundled games: TBC, but Valve’s own Portal demo seem likely.

Number of games projected to be available at or near launch: At least 10 known so far; more are likely to be revealed when pre-orders open in late February. (Speaking anecdotally, I know that a lot of Vive-friendly games are in development, but I don’t know how many will arrive soon after the hardware does).

Developer support: Valve has been working with a number of studios for quite some time, and providing free hardware to quite a few devs. They’re also providing their own ‘OpenVR’ SDK, which they claim can be used for all VR headsets – in theory, at least. (By contrast, with Oculus there’s less far less certainty that a game made for it will play nice with other headsets). Unreal and Unity already support it on the development side, while the now-mature Elite Dangerous (and its Horizon expansion) will have Vive support from day one.

Key strengths (IMHO): It can track you walking around a room rather than simply movements in front of your desk; Valve are a leading games company, with all the experience and contacts that entails; if the price can meet or undercut the Rift’s the Vive will be seen as the better value proposition; the partnership with HTC brings significant hardware manufacture and distribution experience to the table; in my limited personal experience, what the Vive’s doing feels like a bigger step

Key weaknesses (IMHO): Oculus has been around longer and will launch first; lingering concerns about build quality and comfort in the wake of the disappointing Steam Controller, although technically HTC are responsible for that this time out; so far it’s bulkier and with more wires than the Rift (though final hardware is yet to be seen); potential to be far more costly as more components are involved; requirement for a large amount of free space in the home if you want to use the base stations.

Killer app (IMHO): I think it’s Tilt Brush. In terms of VR breaking out to a wider audience, we shouldn’t be thinking ‘VR COD’ or ‘VR Fallout’ so much as The Next Minecraft. As a boundless, intuitive creativity tool for all ages which can conjure wonder with a minimum of effort, Tilt Brush has got enormous potential. For the Vive particularly, it’s the perfect storm of awe-inspiring 3D virtual reality and highly responsive motion controls.

Launch date: TBC, but pre-orders open on February 29th. Speculation puts the release in Springtime.

Price: We’ll find out on February 29th.

These are the main contenders on PC right now, and certainly the most imminent. Of course, there are quite a few other VR projects in development – particularly Starbreeze’s Project StarVR, Sony’s PlayStation VR / Morpheus, but also a number of cheaper, less impressive headsets. Any of them could be an upset for either or both of these kings apparent. The dream outcome for us is that an open standard – whether it’s Valve’s own OpenVR, the independent Open Source Virtual Reality Project or something else entirely – emerges so that it becomes at least semi-academic which headset you have.

The nightmare scenario is big games declaring exclusive support for just one platform, and either we miss out on good things or wind up with empty bank accounts and a cupboard crammed full of dusty hardware. With big guns such as Google, Apple and Microsoft (though they do have Hololens) yet to step into the VR ring but likely to if it takes off, the situation could well get worse before it gets better. Welcome to the future of entertainment.


  1. Thurgret says:

    I was under the impression that the Vive was going to ship before the OR.

    • spamenigma says:

      Unless there is any more delays, its pretty much releasing at the same time. Vive release is supposed to be April. Rift said Q1 but March 28th barely counts as Q1 and most orders shipping April-July. Basically the same time (give or take) :)

    • Tutamun says:

      Apparently HTC/Valve recently had some ‘breakthrough’ with their hardware and pushed the release date back to incorporate it… and now they are basically releasing at the same time as Oculus. (Does sound a bit like both companies had talks and decided to release simultaneously…)

      • Replikant says:

        They now use a front mounted camera in the headset to detect obstacles in the room and warn the user via the chaperone system (i.e. blue outlines of obstacles and room boundaries projected into the game world)

  2. ChunderMan says:

    The Rift can track the user walking around too. It doesn’t have quite the range of the Vive, but it can definitely do position tracking.

  3. TillEulenspiegel says:

    So, the only important difference is the Vive’s added motion tracking. It’s extremely unlikely that there will be “platform” exclusives in the long term, except for the ones where that particular unique feature is crucial.

    Otherwise, it makes about as much sense as developing a game which only runs on NVIDIA cards.

    • brucethemoose says:

      Fortunately, I think you’re right.

      We’ve seen game devs support AMD’s Mantle or Nvidia Gameworks/PhysX, but I’ve never seen a game that flatout requires either one. Nearly doubling your potential user base is apparently worth the extra effort of coding for different platforms.

      …But unlike a video card, VR headsets will be optional for most games, and every VR user will still have a monitor. So I can still see some devs jumping on one bandwagon or the other.

      • Xzi says:

        I haven’t heard any of the hardware developers talk about creating any type of “DRM” that would lock software specifically to their HMD. I think all parties are fully aware that limiting the platform like that would be the fast-track to dooming this generation of VR just like previous generations.

        Even if that was on the table, surely the PC community would have the DRM cracked and the software running on any HMD within a short time frame. It would be a waste of time and resources for the developer to no apparent benefit for anyone.

    • Cinek says:

      Oculus Rift throws money at devs & with some signs a specific contract, so I find it unlikely that many of the exclusives would be ported from Oculus to Vive. In either case – if someone is interested in particular exclusive – I wouldn’t hope for a port to the other VR device and just one that’s dedicated for it. Better safe than sorry.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      I guess it comes down to if Facebook or Valve decide to shell out a bunch of money for exclusivity deals. I really hope this doesn’t happen though.

  4. John O says:

    There’s a key difference that I hadn’t thought of until someone on reddit brought it up, and that is how open the system is.

    Like, can other developers use the software or drivers behind this system? Can you sideload content? What is the actual cost of becoming a developer? This might end up shaping the product to a significant degree, as can be seen with NVIDIA & AMD, i.e. gameworks, freesync, stuff like that.

    I’m mentioning it here because I think it’s important but I can’t give a lot of information on how it’s implemented, although I think Vive is more open than Oculus, which is tied to an app store with other restrictive measures probably. Someone smart plz step in.

    • Luringen says:

      Both headsets can be used without being tied to a store (Steam or Oculus Home). For example, Elite Dangerous supports Oculus Rift, but is not sold at their store.

    • k.t says:

      You currently have to have Steam installed to use the Vive as it’s the only way to get the drivers. Beyond that there are no restrictions for either headset.

    • Xzi says:

      Content can be sideloaded on the Oculus, and the Oculus can play VR games on Steam. I’m sure the Vive will be just as open, although I think Oculus Home/Store is limited to the Rift. All the content there will be available elsewhere, however. Oculus Home is just a UI and storefront designed for VR, games and movies give full 3D or VR demos.

    • Cerzi says:

      In case you’re still reading this, exclusivity only works in one direction. Games that Oculus have funded have only been developed with Oculus SDK, not with OpenVR (Valve’s tech). So if you want to play Eve:Valkyrie or Lucky’s Tale, only the Oculus will (until someone creates a hacky interface, which’ll probably happen eventually but won’t be officially supported).

  5. wraithgr says:

    Well, to me this says “stay away for at least a year”. By then things will be clearer, if the two headsets are more or less compatible then good, buy the one that is better and if not, perhaps there will be a frontrunner.
    If VR fails to take off yet again, there will probably be a few price drops or cheap headsets to be found on ebay…
    After preordering sdk1, I know I would like VR but I don’t absolutely have to have it right this second, definitely not for £600…

    • Fiatil says:

      I’m not that smart, but it has been confirmed that you don’t have to get all of your Rift software from the Oculus store. No idea on the practicality of it, but Oculus has mentioned multiple times that there can be software developed for it and run on it without having to be on the Oculus store.

      • Fiatil says:

        Sorry, this reply should have been to “John O”‘s post above.

  6. Captain Deadlock says:

    Stopped reading at “now-mature Elite Dangerous”

    • mechabuddha says:

      Well, it’s mature in the sense that it might as well be dead.

    • geldonyetich says:

      Poor Elite, I want the game to succeed, but they’ve largely been ignoring that they just rolled out an expansion with a slew of broken bulletin board missions. Frontier Developments would seem to have a real attitude problem when it comes to recognizing what it would take for player retention.

      • Dr Wookie says:

        Frontier said that the average play time for their 1.4 million players is around 60 hours. This is obviously heavily skewed by diehards like me, since the mean and median playtime on steam from Steamspy are about 50 and 14 hours for the base game. They planned for a steady stream of new players, rather than a whole bunch at once, and seem to be getting it.

        Elite is a niche game, and the developers are making the game that they have in mind rather than catering to the mainstream. There are people who absolutely love it, and also people who never will, like Rocket League, or DOTA, or Dark Souls.

        Since they don’t have ALL the money, they can’t afford to wait until everything is in, but i honestly think that Season 1 is now a good deal. Horizons will be a much better prospect once all the content is out; I cannot recommend an upgrade from Season 1 for planets alone in all honesty, but the loot and crafting system is coming next and by the end of the season there will be customisable player avatars, ship launched fighters, and multiple players in the same ship :).

        • Dr Wookie says:

          I forgot to say thwt I have experienced VR Elite on DK1, the HD kit and DK2, and it was always amazing; I will definitely get one of the headsets, but am no sure which.

  7. Eleven says:

    Although most third-party VR developers seem to be announcing support for both headsets, it would be nice if someone like Microsoft or Khronos to come up with a middleware abstraction layer like DirectVR or OpenGL/VR, just to ensure an unnecessary format war doesn’t happen.

    SteamVR is supposed to be an open standard, but I doubt Oculus will support it any time soon.

  8. Kefren says:

    I have no interest in new games or moving around. I just want to sit at my PC with the headset on, replaying my favourite games on mouse and keyboard, probably using 3rd party support (since the headset makers will only want you to buy and play new games). The list of gaems at link to alone would probably keep me going for a few years, and I own most of the ones I’d like to play already, which would save me a fortune! May well mean I don’t need a new hi-spec PC either. Win win win.

    • Dr Wookie says:

      I tried a few old games with hacked in VR support when I was able to borrow a DK1 from work, and they were often pretty cool experiences but only for 10minutes or so. Obviously there have been massive improvements since then :)

    • kael13 says:

      Okay that huge list makes me excited.
      I seriously cannot wait to receive my Rift in April.

    • Swededweeb says:

      Thank you, you just sold the concept of the occulus rift to me. Wasn’t even going to buy one until I saw that list. :O

    • Ufofighter says:

      Interesting list of titles but, in what way VR makes playing xcom or any other 3rd person camera game a better experience?

    • fish99 says:

      I would take that list with a large pinch of salt since it says many of them don’t work in stereo (which would kill the VR experience), and the ones that do work, many will have certain effects that don’t render in stereo. Also it doesn’t say whether they have head tracking.

      All I’m saying is, spend some time on the vorpx forums and find out how many games are actually good to go before you buy either your headset or that software.

      • Fiatil says:

        Actually, every game on that list DOES support Stereo 3D. The comment at the top of it is saying that vorpX will work on games not on the list, but they wont have the Stereo 3D effect.

        “This list contains the most important games that vorpX allows you to play on your Oculus Rift in Stereo 3D. Many more DX9-DX11 titles do work out of the box, just without Stereo 3D.”

  9. Plank says:

    The hardware is expensive, I’ve not seen any games that interest me, they want me, a pc gamer, to stand up and use wii-like controllers and I’ve not seen a single vr kb+m fps game.

    • Michael Anson says:

      Wait, you want less control resolution and accuracy in an FPS? Because motion controls, particularly as implemented by the Vive, are already superior to M+K. Unless you only want to point exactly where you are looking, of course. And not be able to take advantage of abilities like actually ducking behind cover, instead of sticky, chest-high walls. Very console of you.

      • Plank says:

        I want to watch a Quake 3 Arena fps vr match. One player can stand up holding those sticks while the other uses kb+m. Another thing, Remember all those motion controlled games that Valve released on the Wii/Kinect?

        • Michael Anson says:

          So your argument boils down to “this game that was not designed with VR in mind” and “look at all the games Valve made for non-PC systems while it wasn’t making games for PC systems”? VR is wasted on you.

          • Hypocee says:

            they’ve never made anything for Wii or Kinect en’s noting Valve have no track record in motion control that is the joke we call this sarcasm

            It appears VR will not in fact be “wasted on” en because en appears unlikely to buy it.

      • Asurmen says:

        In what manner is they ‘superior’?

        • Michael Anson says:

          Freedom of motion. When you are using K+M or other traditional input methods, you can only point your weapons at whatever you are directly looking at. In Scrap Movers, the demo FPS displayed with the Vive, you can move your weapons independent of your viewpoint: over cover, around corners, even at your own head. This also means that firing around corners and over cover is based entirely on your own accuracy, and not a random number generator.

          Further, sitting in a chair for any game other than one in which you explicitly sit in a chair is ignoring the potential of VR in the first place. Instead of having an experience where you are fully immersed in a game and experiencing things for yourself, you instead wind up playing the same games the same way, but with depth perception.

          It’s somewhat amusing that the proponents of PC gaming as superior to console gaming are so conservative when it comes to new control schemes. From flight sticks to racing wheels to game pads to, yes, VR paddles, so many PC gamers forget that the biggest benefit in PC gaming is in the variety of inputs that can be chosen to best fit the game at hand, instead proclaiming that K+M is the single, godly solution to every game scenario (despite a lack of analog movement speed, flight sim finesse or immersion, lack of finesse for racing scenarios, etc). VR hand tracking is an extremely useful tool and one that can vastly improve the FPS experience, provided you’re willing to use actual skill instead of computer-assisted aiming to do so.

          • DrazharLn says:

            While I agree broadly that it would be nice to see more open mindedness about control devices, you don’t need a motion controller to have viewport and aim movement separate.

            Devices like the TrackIR work fine for allowing separation, and VR headsets can allow the same.

          • Michael Anson says:

            While this is true, K+M can only support targeting for a single hand at a time. In Hover Junkers, for example, you can duck behind cover and fire at your opponent with one hand while reloading your second gun in your other hand, or fire at two different targets. That’s a greater number of actions, greater freedom of movement, and greater capability than in a traditional K+M setup.

          • hollowroom says:

            always providing you can actually hold the controllers. As a disabled gamer, I’m still not sure if I can use these things, and I’m also not sure if I will be given the choice of what control set to use, which is the reason I game on PC in the first place.

            I want the choice.

          • Michael Anson says:

            @hollowroom I agree completely that disabled gamers need options in the VR space. My argument was more targeted towards gamers who had the choice to use a tool best suited to a particular game, and chose not to use it due to some preconceived notion of operational superiority.

            That said, the concerns of those with various disabilities when it comes to VR gaming are entirely valid, and I’m certain far more disabilities will come to light (balance, visual issues, etc) that were not considered in the initial design. It is an unfortunate fact that something needs to be designed before it can be adapted for wider use.

            That said, depending on the disability in question, VR might be adapted relatively easily by third parties. Blind gamers who rely on soundscapes, for example, could take advantage of motion controls in appropriately designed games, and it could be possible to design adaptive software for people with various vision-related disabilities. Motor control disabilities will likely be the hardest to adapt, and would likely require significantly advanced tech to properly give the sensation of freedom of movement.

            That said, currently games will be designed for gamers without VR, and have VR features added on. VR-specific applications will be few, due to a small market, to start. As such, while K+M may not be the best control scheme for VR gaming, it will likely not be the only control scheme for quite some time.

  10. k.t says:

    A few corrections –

    The Vive doesn’t track full-body movement in any way, shape or form. The headset is tracked and the controllers are tracked. That’s it.

    A warning appears when you get too close to the edges of the space you specify during setup, but there’s no automatic warning for anything other than the boundary of this area. Any objects within it are unknown to the tracking system, so avoiding them requires manually switching to the camera view.

    There’s no requirement for a large amount of free space to use the base stations. Not using them isn’t actually an option. As long as they’re further than about a foot and a half away they usually work fine.

    It’s a similar story for the Oculus tracking. It works well beyond the confines of a desk, but they aren’t targeting that “room scale” functionality yet so they haven’t implemented any proximity warnings.

    • fabulousfurrygingerfreakbrothers says:

      I’m looking forward to this VR revolution, although I have no headset preference at the moment, but the thing that’s getting me all giddy is being able to use terms like ‘proximity warnings’ while talking about gaming, but meaning in real life.

    • Michael Anson says:

      Actually, the current Vive model has a front-mounted camera that can relay ghost images of obstacles based on proximity or toggled by the player.

      • k.t says:

        It doesn’t. The camera is a regular 2D image sensor, there’s no depth information. It doesn’t know the difference between very small sheep and sheep that are very far away.

        It fades in automatically when you’re near the boundary of the predetermined area, but this is triggered by the tracking, not the camera. There’s no automated warning for obstacles within the area, and no way to specify them during setup.

        I expect this functionality to be added at some point, and I’m doing my best to make sure it’s sooner rather than later.

        The camera opens up the possibility of automating the process somewhat, but without depth information we have to fall back to much slower methods that are impractical for dynamic obstacles like people, cats, and poltergeist-assisted furniture.

        The camera is a convenience, not a safety feature.

  11. Viral Frog says:

    “… lingering concerns about build quality and comfort in the wake of the disappointing Steam Controller.”

    Wait, wot? Since using the Steam controller, I can honestly say that I have no reason to ever buy a non-Steam controller again. Anything that’s done by another controller is done better by the Steam controller. It’s more comfortable to hold, more aesthetically pleasing, more customizable, etc.

    As for build quality, what Steam controller did you use? I’m assuming it was a pre-release version, because the one I have seems to be of equal quality to any other gamepad I’ve ever used. And I have a 360 controller at home for comparison. I guess I can see how the use of lighter materials could be confused with lower quality materials, but they are not one in the same.

    • silentdan says:

      Yeah, this is the first I’ve heard of any disappointment with the Steam controller. The Steam Link has been pretty disappointing, but that’s a separate device. I went without a gamepad for six months because I refuse to buy an XBox controller, and the SC seemed promising. Then, I bought an SC, and it’s far and away the best controller I’ve ever used.

      Personally, the Rift is a non-option for me. I don’t use Facebook, and I’ve got enough websites, mobile apps, etc. giving me shit about it all day long. It’s been years since I considered Facebook on its merits. Now, it’s just my nemesis, and I will take extraordinary measures to avoid sending any money their way.

      On the other hand, I refuse to get up. If the Vive can be bought without the laser tracking gizmos and the stupid wands, I’ll consider it. If not, no VR for me.

      I have TrackIR and a big monitor. The only thing VR has to offer me, is depth perception. If I can’t get just that, I’m out.

      • Viral Frog says:

        I’m still trying to become interested in VR at all. It just seems so gimmicky. I really don’t see this iteration of VR going anywhere other than the way of the 3DTV.

        • Asherie says:

          Yeah, a few nice games might crop up, but nothing earth shattering. I expect we’ll have to wait another 20 years for the next time VR gets popular again for anything truly amazing.

      • Mctittles says:

        I think the eventual market for VR is going to be a lot of non-gamers. The first time I put on a VR headset it just clicked and I was looking around thinking it really seemed like I was transported somewhere else. You don’t even think “It’s 3d!” like stuff popping out because it feels completely natural like you don’t get excited about the desk in front of you being 3d…it’s just how the normal world looks.

        So being that I felt like I was actually looking around somewhere else the last thing on my mind was traditional games. I just want to be transported next to a beautiful lake and go fishing in it. I want to hang out on top of a mountain having a beer. There are plenty of things that won’t appeal to gamers, but the non gaming crowd…the people that like to do active activities on their time off, that’s who is going to like VR the most.

        • sosolidshoe says:

          Game-wise I only really *want* to use VR for space games, chiefly Star Citizen. I’ll maybe use them for FPS depending on how it works out in practice.

          What I’d love to see though is virtual tourism. I love architecture, but I can’t afford to travel abroad to see it, so being able to chuck a couple of quid at those nutters who spent a year making Notre Dame for AC:Unity or folk like them for a chance to walk around a realistic version of Paris or the Vatican or the site of some ancient city in Peru would be amazing.

    • apm says:

      the steam controller is just very different from any other controller, but works great when you get used to it.

      quality journalism right there. :)

    • Hypocee says:

      ~12 mins of commentary and a dash more after 20 mins here from Graham Smith and friend Tom Francis. Release model. Summary: Crashed Steam hard and repeatedly disallowing updates let alone actual use, moves cursor constantly by itself while sitting on a table and buzzing, which eventual firmware update fixed for one of them but not the other. Sometimes teleports cursor back to the starting point of a movement upon release. Even assuming all software is or gets 100% fixed, one’s iffy on its comfort and one finds it massively uncomfortable to hold. Badly positioned stick. Small, rattly, excessive pressure primary buttons. Back paddles a good idea, but so trigger-happy with normal handling that you can’t actually assign them. Pads poorly placed and angled, and gnashingly finicky, for anything resembling mouse use. You get to either roll your own or learn what some random Steam Forum user thought was a good layout for each game.

    • jcvandan says:

      I would also like to say that I totally disagree with the ‘disappointing steam controller’ statement. I work at a desk all day long and due to this over the past few years the amount of time I spent playing games in the evenings had become less and less because I couldn’t face more desk time (and there are no games to interest me on the consoles). Now I play literally everything on my TV downstairs using the Steam Controller and I f*cking love it. Just played Legend of Grimrock and plan on starting Divinity tomorrow. Playing these sorts of lengthy games before the Steam Controller would have been unheard of for me. The Steam Controller has literally saved my beloved hobby, so please stop the dissing!

      • Hypocee says:

        OK, on behalf of the Internet we will stop saying anything less than favourable about this product so that yours will not become sad and stop working (???)

        • jcvandan says:

          No need for the flippant reply. It is in my interest that the controller succeeds and journalists making blanket statements like this do not help. You only need to look at the Steam reviews to see that saying people are finding it ‘disappointing’ is untrue. That’s all.

    • fish99 says:

      “Anything that’s done by another controller is done better by the Steam controller”

      Are you including a mouse in that?

  12. geldonyetich says:

    I’m inclined to believe that, in the long run, most VR development will be standardized through most developers using the Unity IDE or just similar APIs.

    Since the software end of things will be normalized, what it will ultimately come down to is the quality of the hardware at delivering VR and the price of the component. In that event, Steam is poised to potentially undercut Occulus Rift. But then, I doubt the Occulus was ever meant to remain at $600, it’s just a launch price to take advantage of early adapters with money to blow.

  13. Guy541 says:

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  15. Ancient Evil says:

    The prevailing sentiment seems to be in favor of the Vive, but I’m actually leaning towards the Rift. Here’s why:

    – People are already upset about the price of the Rift but it’s hard to imagine the Vive isn’t going to be even more expensive unless HTC sells them at a huge loss.

    – I’m very skeptical of the “room-scale” thing, even beyond the sheer impracticality of giving a whole room of your house for VR. I’m sure it’s very impressive to behold, but once (if?) we get past glorified-tech-demo VR “experiences” and into more substantial VR “games” (not as in “conventional” or “AAA-style” games, but as in projects that have more depth and ambition rather than shallow diversions that trade on the novelty of VR), it’s going to be a nightmare to develop for. I already believe that VR, despite its immersiveness, constrains game design just as much (if not more) than it expands it, and attempting “room-scale” is only going to make this problem much worse.

    – From the previews I’ve read, the Oculus Touch controllers sound more appealing than the Vive wands. The fact that they’re not bundled at launch is immaterial since I don’t plan to be an early adopter anyway, and cost-wise, it’s not like you’re going to get these controllers for free, bundle or standalone purchase, Oculus or Vive.

    – More exclusive games.
    – Ergonomics is really important to me.
    – I don’t give a crap what company makes my hardware or software, it stands on its own merits in my book. Yes, I like Valve more than Facebook, but I’m not one to go for a (subjectively) less-desirable product out of company loyalty.

    Just my 2 cents.

  16. Pulstar says:

    I’ve stopped caring about VR for the foreseeable future*

    *But not enough to keep mum about not caring.

  17. DoomBroom says:

    The Vive makes the most sense for me.

    *Because of Bundled controllers at launch and two lighthouse base stations for tracking.

    *Use my existing steam account with big library of games and friends available to play with.

    *Focus on roomscale experiences (also you can sit, lay down, crawl around, whatever you want or just sit at desk)

    *Lighthouse tracking sensors only requiring cabled connection to power outlet and they are synced wireless. No stupid wires needing lots of usb ports like the Rift camera solution.

    *chaperone system that warns you of bumping into walls.

    *See trough camera on goggles: catchgoogles

    *Lots of fun looking games (Fantastic contraption, Hover Junkers, Budget Cuts, The Blu, Arizona Sunshine, Job Simulator, The Gallery and lots more: link to

    *Valve as an Awesome Company and Games Creator (There probably are Valve games in the works! There has to be! Just look at the Aperture Robot Repair Demo and Dota 2 The secret Shop demo they made for the Vive. They are planning something.

    *Non gaming applications like Tiltbrush (I’m an artist) I’ll also make my own experiences with unity. Already done that in DK2 and it’s fun on a hole new level in VR.

    *Non gamers like my parents will be able to use and understand Vive hand controllers, a gamepad not so much. And I want to show this to all kinds of people, not just gamers. I think people will get a kick out of Social applications and things like tiltbrush. It will be more fun showing of the Vive than the Rift, at least until Oculus Touch arrives.

    Also I have had an Oculus DK2 for over a year now, I know what seated and gamepad VR feel like, and it feels like something is missing. I want to have hands and the ability to walk around day 1 when I get the Vive.

    I’ve converted my livingroom to a VR Room. But frankly it would have worked just as well with far less space. link to But the larger the better right? :P

    In fact I’ve been saving up to buy an apartment/house for years now. Maybe I’ll just buy a cheap property and build myself a small warehouse to use as free roaming walking space. I’m seriously considering it. With Vive Lighthouse tracking I should be able to experiment with that and maybe a backpack computer.

  18. baconmage says:

    Just a thought, even though Oculus has “claimed” that it’s not making any money on the Rift. How badly would it hurt Oculus if the Vive came out at $50 or $100 cheaper than the Rift? I bet there would be A LOT of people cancelling their pre-orders for the Rift. No?

  19. Simon_Scott says:

    My tin-foil hat take on the Vive pricing is that HTC and Valve watched in horror at the teeth-gnashing over the Rift price, and arranged for the $1500 price to be leaked, knowing that they’re going to sell them for less than that, but a fair chunk of change more than the Rift. They want us relieved that it’s not $1500, rather than appalled that it will be considerably more than Oculus’s headset.

  20. Arithon says:

    Having owned a DK2 and used a Vive, I think that it will ultimately boil down to price and preference.
    Both HMDs will be heavily supported by software vendors.
    They both have pros and cons. In addition to price, you’ll need to consider weight, comfort, space required and what features YOU want. I would strongly advise anyone to try BOTH after they’re released before buying or making judgments based on written reviews.
    Nobody can tell you what the Marix is and in the same way, nobody can tell you which HMD VR system is best for you.

  21. cunningmunki says:

    “…disappointing Steam Controller”

    Judging by my own experience and the reviews on Steam and Amazon I’d say the people “disappointed” by the Steam controller are in the minority.

    link to
    link to

    Unfortunately, a lot of game website and hardware reviewers wrote it off without actually spending a decent amount of time with it. Personally, I think it’s the best game controller since Nintendo decided to add “X” and “Y” buttons instead of the more obvious “C” and “D”.

  22. jayeffaar says:

    “a conventional gamepad when you can’t see it presents a steep learning curve” — that’s an odd statement. The whole point of using a conventional gamepad is that it’s going to be familiar to most people, thus being easy to use blindfolded, and presenting no learning curve at all. If you’ve ever used an xbox gamepad before, why would you need to see it to use it in VR?

    On the other hand, the unfamiliar button placement on the Oculus and HTC’s motion controllers will come with some learning curve (but probably not a very steep one).