The virtual reality race is heating up. PlayStation VR is barely out the door and HTC has already revealed new controllers for its Vive headset at its Steam Dev Days. Heck, Oculus Touch isn't even out yet but we came away from Oculus Connect 3 feeling surprisingly pleased after seeing the new standalone Santa Cruz device.
While we're plenty excited about the innovation, let's take a minute for all of that to sink in: new controllers, new headsets...more controllers. We've barely had a year with the devices already out, and both cost a pretty penny. Now it looks like we'll have to drop more money on new products. It may be awhile, but regardless, the upgrades are coming.
Essential reading: Best VR headsets
It's not a new concept. Like it or not, new tech comes out every year. But VR's been difficult to keep up with when it's offered in piecemeal causing the overall price to keep rising as devices continue to roll out.
That begs the question, how much are you willing to pay for virtual reality? For the early adopters, the answer is easy but for everyone else there's a gray area. With all the headset iterations, controller variations and extra bits to keep making the experience better, your wallet is sure to keep shrinking. The life cycle of VR is still up in the air and right now, it seems the only solution is to keep churning out new stuff - before anything's actually stuck.
WEAR - PlayStation VR
NEARLY THERE - Oculus Rift
We already knew the $200 Oculus Touch controllers were going to be delayed from the very beginning. But we didn't know until later that an additional $79 sensor would enable room scale. That puts the total of an Oculus Rift headset plus its peripherals up to nearly $900 plus taxes.
However we don't see Oculus making brand new controllers since it has spent such a long time honing Touch. If anything, the teams will focus on the standalone device. Details are scarce on Santa Cruz but it seems like you won't need a PC for it to function. As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pointed out, this puts it in its own category, and places it outside of the Rift's lifecycle. That means Oculus probably won't be pushing more tech in your face in the near future. Probably.
SQUARE - HTC Vive
When we first heard about the new controllers, we almost didn't believe it. It's surprisingly early to begin modifications on the controllers - almost as if the ones that have been released weren't really the final consumer devices. After all, what's HTC and Valve going to do? Release a whole new headset with the controllers? It's more likely that the new controllers will be bundled with new base stations next year and then we'll see an head mounted display the year after. If Oculus Touch is going for over $100, you can bet your bottom that the refreshed Vive controllers will cost a lot despite Valve's discount claims. That's a lot of money right there at $800 and counting for the whole setup.