July 17, 2017 // 10:50 a.m.
Facebook-owned Oculus VR has announced that it will be dropping the cost of its Oculus Rift virtual reality headset and controller bundle to $499 - equivalent to £499 including VAT - when its current sale offer ends, strongly undercutting the rival HTC Vive.
Announced earlier this month, the £399 sale pricing for the Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch virtual reality bundle is part of Oculus VR's Summer of Rift programme, seemingly designed to put pressure on PC-tethered VR competitor HTC and increase consumer interest in the technology following demo station closures amid disinterest from the public. The time-limited offer has already given rise to more affordable VR PC bundles, starting with Overclockers UK's launch of a sub-£1,000 PC and Oculus package.
Bundles like that may be set to become a permanent fixture at etailers globally, however, following the announcement from Oculus VR that it is to reduce the price of the bundle permanently to $499 (equivalent to £499 including VAT in the UK) once the sale is over. Coming just four months after the bundle price was dropped to £598, the new pricing shows that Facebook isn't afraid to use its considerable cash reserves to push what founder Mark Zuckerberg has positioned as the future of technology - and that Oculus VR is keen to turn up the heat on rival HTC.
At £499, £100 more than the current sale price, the bundle is considerably more affordable than the £759 HTC Vive equivalent though more expensive than the console-driven Sony PlayStation VR at £340 for the headset and £45 for the required positional-tracking camera. When the price was lowered as a temporary sale, few expected HTC to respond in kind; with a now-permanent new price floor, though, the company is almost certain to announce a price drop of its own in the coming weeks even as its smartphone division drives hefty losses as a result of poor sales.