HTC has announced that it is dropping the price of its Vive virtual reality headset and controller bundle to £599 (inc. VAT), but while it claims it is doing so to drive mass-market adoption the timing suggest a response to recent cuts by rival Oculus VR.
Announced back in 2015 as a partnership between phone-maker HTC and game publishing giant Valve, the Vive headset was a direct response to the success of now-Facebook-owned Oculus VR's Rift headset. While there were a few delays along the way, the Vive became available for pre-order in February 2016 at a UK retail price of £689 plus a whopping £60 in shipping (inc. VAT). Interest proved strong and since then HTC has worked hard to put virtual reality at the centre of its business, launching a VR-focused accelerator programme and venture capital fund even as the company's phone division reported massive revenue drops forcing the company to sell its manufacturing plant.
Now, HTC has announced the first major price shift since the Vive hit retail, slashing the price from £759 to £599 (inc. VAT). 'Our goal at Vive has always been to offer the best and most advanced VR system and drive mass market adoption for VR across the globe,' claims Cher Wang, HTC chair, of the move. 'We’re continuing to deliver on that commitment with this new price for Vive, making VR more accessible to a broader audience and driving the entire VR industry forward. Vive’s game-changing technology, best-in-class content and unmatched global partners are fulfilling the promise of VR like never before. With highly anticipated titles, and the upcoming launch of Vive Tracker, there has never been a better time to embrace Vive and enjoy the most immersive VR experience available.'
The timing of the drop, though, suggests it has more to do with increasing pressure from Facebook-backed Oculus Rift: The company recently dropped the price of its rival Rift bundle to £399 for a limited period with a permanent price-cut to £499 after the offer ends.
The new pricing is live now on the HTC store with major UK retailers to follow in due course.