Facebook unveils Oculus Go, a $199 VR headset
Could help Sony’s VR efforts
Lucas Matney for TechCrunch writing about Oculus Go, the new $199 VR headset which was unveiled by Mark Zuckerberg during Connect 4.
According to Zuck, “it’s the most accessible VR headset yet;” it starts at $199 and it’s going to ship early next year. It appears that the mobile headset will be a similar experience to the Gear VR, allowing users to spin around but not move freely.
Facebook VP of VR Hugo Barra called the device, “hands-down the easiest way for developers to get involved with VR.” He said it’s lightweight and “feels incredibly soft to wear.” It will sport lenses that have the same wide field-of-view as Rift and will have a small controller similar to the one that ships with the Gear VR.
As Lucas notes, not a lot is known about the headset, including battery life, which is quite important for a standalone headset. However, that $199 price point does ensure a much larger audience potential than other VR headsets which either require a phone or a computer/console.
Some might see this as a direct threat to PlayStation VR which, till now, has been one of the best deals for a VR headset and far cheaper than PC counterparts, but I don’t see it that way. VR is so early in its lifespan that if it does ever take off, its winners aren’t going to be determined today.
Instead, any traction that a player like Sony or Facebook can gain is a boon to all the players. Unlike wearables, which have now gained a foothold with consumers and offer a clear value proposition, it’s yet to be proven that VR offers anything more than a cool 15-minute demo.
I’m not entirely comfortable being the market leader in VR by such a margin that seems to be happening right now. With such a brand new category you want a variety of platforms all doing well to create that rising tide and create the audience.
Let’s just hope that with the low $199 price tag doesn’t also come low specs as well. As it stands, VR requires massive processor and GPU power alongside a high-res screen. Anything less than that will deliver poor visuals at best and nausea at worst.
If the Oculus Go manages to sell in any meaningful volumes and the experience is good, suddenly consumers will be more willing to give PlayStation VR a shot, especially considering there’s over 60 million PS4 units already out in the wild with a rich library of games which makes getting into VR gaming even easier. But if Oculus Go is underpowered and gains bad press, it will be a step back for all the players in VR, including Sony.
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