Welcome to VR! That will be $600, please

I need to get something off my chest. Six hundred dollars. Let me repeat, six hundred dollars. Seriously,  SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS!

Enough of my mental breakdown. Early this January, Oculus VR opened up pre-orders for their highly anticipated virtual reality (VR) headset, the Oculus Rift. Scheduled to release March 28, 2016, the Rift comes packaged with a sensor, an Xbox One controller, and <em>Lucky&rsquo;s Tale</em>, a Rift-exclusive platformer in the vein of <em>Super Mario 64</em>, for a price tag of $599.&nbsp;

Seen as the company responsible for VR&rsquo;s resurgence, Oculus&rsquo; announcement is a significant step towards the adoption of VR by the general public. While VR is the eventual evolution of video games and media as we know it, 2016 is far from the &ldquo;year of VR&rdquo; that some publications have deemed it to be. There are too many factors working against VR at this point in time to expect it to completely upend the modern video game industry.

The biggest factor working against VR is what I stressed at the beginning of this column &mdash; the price. Rift&rsquo;s $599 price point is only the price of one VR headset, but it&rsquo;s expected that other headsets will be similarly priced. At $599, the Rift costs a good $200 more than the PS4 and Xbox One. That isn&rsquo;t including the upward of $1,500 it will cost to buy a computer that&rsquo;s capable of supporting VR, which is four times more than the current generation of consoles.&nbsp;

For PS4 owners, PlayStation VR will cut down the price quite a bit considering you don&rsquo;t need to update the console to support VR. Still, Sony&rsquo;s VR headset is rumoured to be the same price as their console or even more.&nbsp;

You can analyze other challenges VR may face such as getting full support from developers and publishers, quality assurance, and facing the &ldquo;it&rsquo;s isolating humans even more&rdquo; stereotype. However, price is the factor which will hold VR back from mass adoption. Why would I drop the same amount of money on a headset as I would on a console or laptop? It isn&rsquo;t guaranteed that VR will be successful, that the games will be worth the investment, or that they will release in a timely manner.&nbsp;

It might seem unreasonable to be so negative on something with so much potential. The fact is potential will only take VR so far. The results need to be there. Right now, I&rsquo;m not convinced. There have been plenty of fads that have come and gone in video games, most recently 3-D and motion gaming. Sadly, VR is being pushed more as a gimmick rather than a natural evolution of the medium and I fear it will go the way of those most recent fads &mdash; fade into obscurity.&rdquo;


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