Despite virtual reality sales continuously falling short of expectations, Microsoft and other tech giants still have hope that it will be the next big communication platform.
Today, Microsoft announced that it will offer a cheaper VR setup than its competitors, as well as an expanded selection of VR apps and experiences in an effort to increase adoption. Starting this holiday season, consumers will be able to purchase its Windows 10-compatible Mixed Reality headset and motion controllers for a total of $399. (For comparison, Oculus lowered its headset and controller bundle to $499 in June, and HTC Vive dropped the price of its headset by $200 last week to $599.) Through Microsoft’s new partnership with gaming company Valve, the MR headset will also include support for all of the VR apps and games available on Steam, Valve’s popular gaming platform and major player in the VR industry. Previously, only the HTC Vive offered Steam support.
In addition to lowering the price of a headset, Microsoft is setting new price lows for its companion PCs. Competitor VR headsets like the Oculus and HTC Vive need to be plugged into high-end PCs with dedicated graphics cards, which can range from $799 to upwards of $3,000, to provide a high enough frame refresh rate that avoids making users nauseous. Windows Mixed Reality, however, will be compatible with new integrated graphics card PCs that are capable of supporting a minimum frame refresh rate standard and start at $499.
Currently, tethered VR headsets have mostly seen adoption among hardcore gamers, but Microsoft hopes that its latest updates will broaden the market to more mainstream consumers. Since the company’s announcement, Sony has dropped the prices on its headset and controller bundles to $449.
“Mixed Reality is the future,” Microsoft said in its announcement, “and we want everyone on the journey with us.”