There are plenty of reasons to think that virtual reality (VR) has finally arrived. Facebook’s Oculus finally launched its virtual reality headset this year, Sony is about to do the same, Alphabet ‘s Google is about to debut a mobile virtual reality content hub (more on that later) and NVIDIA recently blurred the lines between a VR-ready notebook and a desktop VR system with its new graphics cards.
But with all of its gains so far this year, there is still one major hurdle virtual reality has to overcome: It’s cost.
A high-end VR computer can easily cost $1,000. And many high-end computers aren’t VR-ready at all. In fact, NVIDIA says 99% of computers on the market this year can’t handle the high-end specs you’ll need for a true virtual reality experience.
If you want to build your own VR computer, you’ll need to shell out at least a couple hundred dollars (on the low end) just for the graphics card alone, not to mention the rest of the computer’s internals.
And then there are the headset costs. A high-end headset like HTC’s Vive or the Oculus Rift will run you $599 and $799, respectively.
At the present costs, a VR fan will have to shell out at least $1,600 for a high-end virtual reality experience. Those costs will likely stymie VR’s growth in the high-end market. But it’s not all bad news.
The best VR experience is going to cost a lot of money for a while. But really good VR experiences, at much lower costs, should be the real VR growth driver in the short term.
In the coming weeks, Google will release a Daydream VR platform, according to Bloomberg. The platform will be a way for mobile users to access VR videos, apps, and other content. It’ll be the first VR content hub of its kind and I think it’s going to be one of the most significant ways that virtual reality is adopted by consumers.