The Oculus Go, a financially attractive gateway to virtual reality, will no longer appear in the American manufacturer’s catalogue two years after its release. A choice that bury the so-called “affordable” VR headsets, to make way for devices that are certainly more technically advanced, but also more expensive to purchase.
Is it still possible to have a virtual reality experience worthy at an affordable price today? The question arises in light of the latest announcement by Oculus, according to which the autonomous Oculus Go model will disappear from its offer in 2020 after two years of good and loyal services. Although system updates and security patches will continue to be deployed until 2022.
THE GRADUAL DISAPPEARANCE OF AFFORDABLE HEADSETS
The fact is that the Oculus Go remains to this day one of the most financially interesting solutions to experience respectable immersive content. And it has to be said that this type of alternative has gradually disappeared from the landscape in recent years. To make way, today, for more expensive headsets, but also more adapted to the uses of the moment: virtual reality gaming.
Introduced at the Google I/O 2014, the Google Cardboard was one of the first VR headsets launched at a derisory price. Before the more successful Samsung Gear VR overshadowed it at a slightly higher price in 2015. Today, Samsung’s product seems to be abandoned, as evidenced by the incompatibility of Note 10 and the lack of official announcement at its major August 2019 conference in New York.
THE TREND TOWARDS THE AUTONOMOUS SOLUTION
And let’s not overlook Google’s Daydream View, whose first version launched in 2016 at a price of $79 gave way to a second iteration a year later… and was finally put on the side of the road in October 2019. Still, at the time, these solutions were much more economical than an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, which are much more powerful and only compatible with a computer.
Then came the turn of autonomous devices, from the Oculus Go two years ago to the HTC Vive Focus mainly dedicated to businesses, to name but a few. Marketed at 159 euros in its minimum configuration, the first named device remained an interesting gateway to virtual reality. When the second, with its price exceeding 800 euros, is not even aimed at the general public.
Let’s not forget that to offer the gamers a better playing experience, many companies did not focus solely on the VR solutions, but on live games. We can easily take the example of casinos : with the implementation of online live dealer casinos on the internet, many players can enjoy a unique experience, as if they were inside a real casino but from their sofa. Thanks to this improvement, players can interact directly with the dealer and other players and keep the same adrenaline at the time of making decisions and placing bets. Maybe these companies will also develop VR tables, but at the time, the live solution remains less expensive offering a great experience, a good compromise.
BREAKING THE PIGGY BANK
Today, the trend is towards both high-end computer-compatible models and technically advanced stand-alone solutions, such as the Oculus Quest. Its ability to offer 6DoF (Degrees of Freedom) experiences makes it much more suitable for gaming, whereas the 3DoF of Go used to confine it to less attractive experiences (film viewing, professional training), as well as a few games.
The discontinuation of the Oculus Go thus leaves the world of virtual reality orphaned in terms of headsets able to offer an enjoyable and available experience at a reasonable price. The PSVR is available for 300 euros… provided you buy a compatible PlayStation, which is an additional cost.
The Quest, on the other hand, costs 449 euros in its minimum configuration, which is three times more than Go. Being one of the last major players to offer accessible and honorable virtual reality, Oculus closes a small chapter in VR by focusing only on high-end and expensive devices.
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