Why it matters to you
The HTC Vive still maintains a lead over the Oculus Rift in terms of its Steam user base, but there are signs that competition is heating up — which could lead to more discounts for you.
In early July, Oculus announced its Summer of Rift promotion, bundling the company’s virtual reality headset with a pair of Touch controllers at a compelling price point of $399. The price cut was extended from its initial six-week run, but a blog post published over the weekend confirmed that it would end Monday — and we can already see the effect that it had on Oculus’ rivalry with HTC.
Valve’s most recent Steam hardware and software survey offers details of VR headset usage between April and August. Over the last month alone, the share of Steam accounts using a Rift has risen from 36 percent to 44 percent, cutting the HTC share down from 60 percent to 52 percent.
Of course, Steam is not the be-all and end-all of PC gaming but it’s certainly the premier platform at this point in time. These figures cannot be taken as an exact summation of the wider VR landscape, but they certainly give a good indication of how the two biggest headsets around stack up to one another in terms of popularity.
The fact that the Rift was able to make up so much ground over a short period of time might indicate that VR hardware is getting close to the kind of price point that makes the technology more palatable for users. A $399 headset with motion controllers included seems to be attractive enough to spur on adoption.
HTC is not oblivious to the success that Oculus has enjoyed over the course of the Summer of Rift. Just a few weeks ago, the company announced a permanent $200 price reduction for its Vive headset, which puts it at $600 — just a whisker more expensive than the $500 Rift, which isn’t too much of a premium to pay for hardware that is widely considered to be the gold standard for VR.
It will be very interesting to see how competition between Oculus and HTC plays out from here. The Vive is still more popular among Steam users and most would agree that the headset provides a better overall experience, at a higher price. On the other hand, the Rift has momentum on its side, which could turn out to be a crucial factor.