After speaking with Unity CEO John Riccitiello, I’m putting a little note on my calendar for CES 2019 as the time I expect to see multiple VR headsets that will cost less than $1,000 for the entire package.
Riccitiello thinks content investments, hardware improvements and price decreases will align in late 2018 and into 2019 for mobile headsets to start arriving that start to access a much larger market for virtual reality.
“You sort of need the expectation of high volume in order to do the kinds of things that would have you put more of the technology on a single motherboard, on a single chip,” Riccitiello said in an interview with UploadVR. “The promise of volume helps you bring pricing down because you end up engineering for higher quantities and you can defray CPU, GPU cost or plastic or metal around these devices over more units.”
Right now a mobile VR headset that pairs with a phone hits under this price point for the entire package. While headsets like Gear VR and Daydream View provide convenience, though, they don’t provide the most compelling natural human interaction people find with full hand controls and free movement in Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. So while there are more than 5 million Gear VRs in the market, that market is too small and the prices of software you can buy for it too low to support massive investments from companies like Disney or Activision in developing titles and marketing them at the scale that would drive adoption of the platforms.
But Riccitiello sees that changing over the next two years as the price of mobile VR hardware is lowered while capabilities improved.
“I’m reasonably certain that by the end of next year that’ll be delivered,” Riccitiello said. “It might take into early 2019 but it’s certainly in the 2018-2019 time frame — sub $1,000 for the entire package…We’re probably going to see 4-5 executions of this toward the end of 2018 and certainly into 2019…The sub $1,000 solution I’m talking about will be untethered.”