Media that covers technology news and gaming culture like to talk about who ‘wins’. This shouldn’t be news to anybody unless you’re a fresh convert. Consoles, game franchises, PC and Mac, they have all been paired off against each other. Sometimes it’s a deliberate marketing push; sometimes it’s just the consumers themselves. Virtual Reality is the next fictional battleground, but instead of seeing it pair off against AR, let’s look at who might make the most out of the new technology. Microsoft’s recently announced lineup of Windows 10 enabled VR headsets might just be the one that makes it work. Here is why:
1. It’s much cheaper
Aside from health concerns and looking silly, one of the major concerns preventing the adoption of a high-end VR headset is how pricey it is. While the mobile options are much cheaper, they are also far more limited in their capabilities. If you want room-scale VR experiences, you need to shell out. Even the PlayStation VR headset isn’t considered that cheap. Microsoft’s headsets, by contrast, are very affordable, cost just over S$415. Yes, you still need to pay for a PC to run the headset. Nevertheless, compared to most other options out there this is a significant drop in cost.
2. It’ll be easier to set up
HTC currently have the distinction of the most exciting experiences. This is because of their lighthouse sensors that allow for what amounts to nearly 1 to 1 reading. There are videos of people catching the controllers while in VR because the sensors are so good. The price of this, however, is that it can be a pain to set up. Plus, a lot of room is needed to set up the sensors and to be able to have a full gaming experience. Microsoft’s new headset, on the other hand, will run on internal sensors, just like what they’re doing with the Hololens. This means less set up is needed, and those with less room will not have to compromise on their VR experience.
3. There will be cross-platform support
One thing Microsoft is pushing hard nowadays is cross-platform compatibility. Many Xbox One games are fully playable on PC with a download. With this support, VR is very likely to follow suit. Although Phil Spencer is on record saying that the Xbox Scorpio will not support VR anytime soon, it is unlikely to be a long wait. We will know for sure when further details come next month.
4. There will be more of it
Unlike just about every other player in the VR market, Microsoft is not building their VR headset. Instead, they are using their network of hardware partners to create a range of headsets. Again, how this will pan out is not entirely sure at this stage. It could be nothing more than a swap of which logo you see on the headset after all. However, what it does mean is that there will be more of the headset. More manufacturers mean that more headsets will be around for use. Considering the supply issues both the Oculus and the HTC have faced since launch; this is a critical concern.
Of course, all of this could lead to nothing, just like every other time a company has entered a new market. With their extensive experience and deep pockets, Microsoft does stand a good chance of getting a significant slice of the Virtual Reality market, however.