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article imageHTC Vive gets a permanent $200 price cut

By James Walker     Aug 21, 2017 in Technology
HTC has cut $200 from the price of its Vive virtual reality headset as the VR market begins to heat up. The Vive is still more expensive than its main rival, the Facebook-produced Oculus Rift, but is now a more competitively priced alternative.
HTC unexpectedly made the price cut today, confirming the Vive's recommended retail price is now $599. The headset launched 16 months ago priced at $799. Except for occasional special promotions, it has remained fixed at this price for its entire lifespan.
Today's 25 percent discount is therefore significant for the virtual reality market. The Vive is arguably the most popular of the current crop of PC-tied, gaming-focused headsets. It launched as a complete system, including motion controllers that weren't added to the Oculus Rift until months after it first arrived.
The Oculus Rift has now made up for lost time though. The Rift can be found bundled with its Touch motion controllers for $399. Although this is labelled as a "limited-time" offer, Ars Technica notes the promotion hasn't changed in over six weeks. The Rift's currently still $200 cheaper than the Vive, even with HTC's massive price cut.
HTC hasn't publicly commented on the guide price reduction. However, its representatives sent statements to gaming media outlets stating it had planned the drop before Oculus announced its $399 offer. It has also denied the deal is an attempt to clear out old Vive stock, something probably true as no new Vive hardware is expected anytime soon.
The HTC Vive  built in partnership with Valve
The HTC Vive, built in partnership with Valve
HTC
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This renders the decision an entirely strategic move, one which impacts the entire VR market. Although buyers on a budget will still end up with a Rift, HTC has narrowed the gap with its competitor and consequently lowered the ceiling on desktop VR pricing. With retailer discounts, the Vive could soon near $500 territory and enter the "mid-range" psychological barrier.
The price drop doesn’t say much about how well virtual reality headsets are actually selling. However, it opens the Vive up to more gamers who may have been on the edge about making a purchase. The cut could produce a short-term spike in sales as new first-time buyers place orders on a headset.
Even so, headset sales are still primarily constrained by the cost of the computer required to run them. Typically, the desktop PC required to use a VR headset costs as much as $800 on its own, excluding the headset itself.
For gamers, this can make VR a distinctly unattractive proposition. Many will instead choose to spend the extra on a more powerful PC, new monitors or more peripherals, waiting for VR prices to drop. It's a challenge neither HTC or Oculus has yet managed to solve, although gradual price cuts could start to tempt VR hold-offs.
More about HTC, htc vive, Virtual reality, Vr, oculus rift