This week, Facebook confirmed that the Oculus Go, a new, standalone VR headset, was on its way in early 2018. Priced at $199, the social giant said its low price should make VR more accessible than ever before. However, while analysts MCV spoke to were generally in agreement that Oculus Go is a good idea, its price alone won’t be enough to achieve Oculus’ goal.
"I can see what Oculus is trying to achieve with the Oculus Go headset but for standalone headsets to prosper I think they need to deliver on a number of fronts," Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games research at IHS Markit, told MCV.
"I believe that standalone headsets are the technological end-game for VR headsets but crucially, the quality of the experience needs to be significantly better than premium smartphone VR as its more expensive for those that already own a high-end smartphone.
"While Oculus Go offers a more convenient form factor than smartphone VR, the use of LCD screens, the same 3-DoF head tracking and same content portfolio as the Gear VR means it does not deliver a significantly better experience than the Gear VR. The convenience of Oculus Go’s all-in-one form factor, while appealing, is not enough, I believe, to overcome the price differential. On this basis, I don’t believe Oculus Go is the headset to ignite the standalone VR market even at a $200 price point."
Debby Ruth, SVP of global media and entertainment at Magid, agrees: "Having a quality untethered device at a price accessible to a greater number of people is a good step forward, but there is still work to be done. It will be interesting to see if there will any substantive marketing efforts that bring awareness to the broader audience this device would appeal to," she said.
On the contrary, Stephanie Llamas, VP of research and strategy and head of immersive technology insights at SuperData, believes that Oculus Go could be just what the market needs:
"The Oculus Go untethered headset price is on-point – given the right content and quality, this could be a key driver for VR to reach the mainstream," she told MCV.
Rift’s permanent price cut to £399 will also help in this respect, she added: "A lot of consumers are looking out for the next iteration of headsets (price cuts generally allude to the need to dump inventory), especially with the announcement of Santa Cruz. But anyone interested in buying a Microsoft headset this holiday season may reconsider given Oculus’ fame. It’ll depend on if they know the difference between inside-out tracking, or care about it at all."
Harding-Rolls, meanwhile, remains cautious about the wider VR market: "Oculus got a boost in Rift sales when it dropped the price point to $399, and at the time I speculated that it would return to this level on a permanent basis during Q4, which seems a sensible strategy if it wants to retain the momentum it has created," he said.
"The Rift still lags behind HTC Vive in sales but overall the PC-based VR market is still a very niche opportunity. Across all PC-based VR headsets we are forecasting a world installed base of 2.4 million by the end of the year. It will continue to grow but this market is a slow burner over the next few years."