Just a couple of weeks ago HTC was confidently rebutting claims about VR dying a huge and monstrous death with record sales of their Vive headset. Now, in a rather more desperate-seeming move, they’ve announced their Viveport subscription service will shortly be available on arch-rival headset, the Oculus Rift. Who’s winning the race for total VR domination? You decide!
Set for a launch on September 4, HTC’s line is that, by opening up Viveport to Oculus peeps, it will double the potential audience for developers and players alike, giving everyone the ‘best in both worlds’ as handily signposted in the header image above. All developers need to do is choose to opt-in for Oculus Rift support, after which the Rift will then appear as a ‘compatible headset’ in the Viveport listing tab.
That all sounds well and good, and will no doubt be a nice extra for Rift owners. It does, however, rather suggest that Viveport isn’t doing nearly as much business as it should be, and that Vive owners aren’t particularly taken with what’s on offer – despite record sales of the headset itself.
Viveport, in case you’ve forgotten, is Vive’s dedicated global store for all things VR. There’s nothing to stop you from buying Vive games on other services like Steam, of course, but Viveport is arguably the best place for finding all the other things you might want to use your VR headset for, such as travelling to distant corners of the globe from your own home and doing arty things in apps like Google’s Tilt Brush. There are still some decent games on offer there, but it’s more for your Ready Player One: Oasis beta and Spider-Man Homecoming VR apps and such like.
Viveport is also the name of Vive’s subscription service that lets paid-up customers choose up to five free titles a month from a curated selection of apps and games. It currently costs £8.99 per month (having recently increased in price from £6.99 per month back at the end of March), but HTC haven’t actually spelled out in words of one syllable whether Oculus owners will have to pay the same amount to get Viveport on their Rift, or whether their Viveport fee will be less due to a smaller number of titles on offer.
Either way, it’s certainly an intriguing development in the bid for best VR headset, and it will be interesting to see how much uptake it gets when it launches next month.