Feb 13th, 2017

When the Oculus Rift Kickstarter got underway and funded in less than a few days, I knew the future of VR was upon us. Virtual reality is something that gamers have been obsessed with since gaming was a thing. The thought of being able to put on a headset and enter a completely different one is a compelling one, but in order for the new tech to move forward, there are going to be clear winners in this space.

So far, it’s not looking like Oculus Rift is shaping up to be the virtual reality forerunner that we all thought it would be several years ago. Granted, Oculus Rift generated a lot of ire from hardcore PC gamers after it was acquired by Facebook, but according to a recent report that revealed units sold for each type of VR, it’s lagging well behind the HTC Vive that’s backed by Valve.

The above chart was compiled by SuperData Research and shows the sales numbers in the millions for VR headsets of every type, from the Samsung Gear VR to Google’s newest Daydream VR headset. Samsung tops the charts thanks to several factors, it’s by far the cheapest VR option available despite being unable to play full VR games like Resident Evil 7.

Looking only at VR headsets that hardcore gamers would consider, PlayStation VR has definitely succeeded well beyond what the two major PC VR headsets have done. Sony shipped nearly a quarter of a million headsets since October of 2016, while HTC has shipped 450k and Oculus Rift has shipped 355k. It’s hard to see the name that started the VR revolution come in last, but compared to the other two I could have told you this would be the outcome for several reasons.

Of the two available PC VR options, Oculus Rift is the cheapest and was the first to market. However, the acquisition by Facebook and the continued litigation of Facebook and Oculus by major developers like ZeniMax Media has led most hardcore gamers, the early adopters, to have no interest in Oculus Rift. In fact, when the acquisition was announced, social media like Twitter and Reddit was littered with posts bemoaning this as a terrible move.

Now, the Oculus Rift demo kiosks that were set up in several hundred Best Buy stores across the country are closing. VR is one of those things that you need to try in order to see how awesome it is, so the lack of venue for this to be possible means lots of people just won’t be interested in the technology.

Now that these headsets have been on the market for a year or longer with a severe price premium compared to the more successful PlayStation VR, both Oculus Rift and HTC have to look at ways to make their headsets more affordable. The second generation of virtual reality headsets should also be less tethered to their machines, which is a severely limiting factor for current setups.

Combined with the high price and more affordable technology available, it’s really not surprising to see that most consumers who are interested in VR have opted for the simple packaged PlayStation VR. It doesn’t require a high-end computer or additional peripheral setup like both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive.