VR is still too expensive

PlayStation VR2 costs more than the most expensive PS5. I get why, but it’s still too much money.

We’re on the precipice of a new era for virtual reality. Meta just launched its high-end Quest Pro, Sony will be releasing PSVR2 in February, and Apple is heavily rumored to jump into the game with its own VR / AR headset very soon. I’m finally ready to buy a VR headset, and this is the generation that it feels like I should be joining. But now that we’re finally seeing actual prices for them, I’m getting some major sticker shock.

Do I want PSVR2? Yes, but it costs so much.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

PSVR2’s $549.99 price is already high, but tack that on with the starting PS5 price of $399.99 and it means the minimum cost to use PSVR2 is $950. The Quest Pro, a standalone VR headset, costs $1,499.99. And don’t expect Apple’s headset to be cheaper; if anything, it seems like it will be even more expensive, with Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reporting that it could cost more than $2,000.

To be fair, these headsets are loaded with advanced technology. PSVR2 is a big upgrade over the first PSVR, with features like an OLED screen, four built-in cameras to track your movements, and vastly improved controllers versus the PS3-ea Move wands that the original PSVR relied on. The Quest Pro is much sleeker than the Quest 2, has inward-facing cameras to track your facial movements, and lets you see full-color passthrough video. Apple’s headset is rumored to even let you make payments with your eyes. 

If VR is going to go mainstream, it needs a more mainstream price

But if VR is going to go mainstream — and Silicon Valley is investing billions to make that happen — companies will need to pair all that fancy tech with a price a normal person would pay. The Quest 2’s original $299 price felt a lot more reasonable. It’s a capable standalone VR headset that you can use for things like games and fitness apps, much like how some people might already use the $299 Nintendo Switch.

It’s also proven to be a hit, with nearly 15 million units sold as of June, according to IDC. That’s particularly impressive given Sony just said it’s sold 25 million PS5s, meaning a product in a relatively new category isn’t that far behind the most coveted console on the planet. Sure, Meta recently raised the price of the headset by $100, but it’s still an easier pill to swallow than the grand you’ll have to invest for the next gen.

A picture of the Meta Quest Pro VR headset

Is the Meta Quest Pro worth more than three times the cost of the Quest 2?
Photo by Alex Heath / The Verge

It’s worth noting that Meta is positioning the Quest Pro largely as a work-focused device, not something for the average consumer; for most people, the Quest 2 is the Meta headset they should buy (at least until the Quest 3 launches next year). But if the Quest 2 is good enough for many, do we really need tech companies pushing extremely high-tech and high-cost VR devices? They might be aspirational, and I get that they need to push the boundaries to eventually bring costs down, but is the Quest Pro worth more than three times as much as the Quest 2?

But for those wanting to try higher-end headsets, these companies are asking people to commit a lot of money to what are largely still fledgling platforms. Meta continues to employ a “build it and they will come” approach to innovation on the platform, and it’s snapped up quite a few notable VR studios along the way instead of making its own killer apps. (Even the team that makes Horizon Worlds doesn’t really use it.) This is unlike Nintendo, which makes weird hardware but obvious ways to use it, or Apple, which is famous for matching great hardware and great software. Well, usually. We’ll have to see if the iPhone maker has a successful pitch for its VR headset.

That’s probably why I’m most optimistic for the PSVR2, in spite of the high cost. With the original PSVR, Sony went out of its way to make great games that made sense, and I’d suspect it will do the same for PSVR2. My colleague Victoria Song was wowed by Sony’s signature PSVR2 title, Horizon Call of the Mountain, and that’s one that was built specifically for Sony’s hardware. Sony’s commitment to making video games for a video game-focused VR device probably means that the games will be good.

A person holds the left and right PSVR2 Sense controllers in their hands.

I do want to try the whole bow and arrow schtick with Horizon Call of the Mountain.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Unfortunately, PSVR2 isn’t compatible with the many games for the original PSVR, so you’ll have to start from scratch with your PSVR2 library and hope that developers keep making games for the hardware. If you buy it at launch, you’re taking a big bet on the future of the platform.

For weeks, I’ve been mentally preparing for the worst after seeing the PlayStation Edge controller’s eye-watering cost, but I’m still surprised about how much you’ll have to pay for the PSVR2. Based on our hands-on impressions, it seems like it could be worth the price, so there’s a good chance I’ll be doing my best to get a preorder on November 15th, even if I wish I weren’t paying as much. At least I already own the PS5.

Originally appeared on: TheSpuzz