Community Download: HTC or Facebook – Who Is Doing More To Grow VR?

by Joe Durbin • January 8th, 2017

CES ends today and children around the world are singing happy songs. The massive consumer electronics convention is an absolute marathon for technophiles, businessmen and journalists alike. All of that effort culminates in some of the biggest tech announcements of the year and this year, for virtual reality, that meant one thing:  the Vive tracker.


This year’s CES was relatively quiet for VR in general. Microsoft’s $300 partner headsets were on display (although no one was allowed to actually turn them on) and companies like Intel and Qualcomm were showing off impressive reference designs that could mean big things for the future. But there was only one organization releasing new VR hardware that would have a direct and immediate impact on the industry. That company was HTC.

HTC unveiled its new elite head strap, complete with integrated audio, but its most important announcement was the Vive Tracker. This is a small, puck-like device that can make any object detectable for the Vive’s unique Lighthouse tracking system. The tracker has the potential to revolutionize VR experiences and is already being embraced by developers for baseball bats, 3D printed rifles, cameras and more. The tracker is a huge stimulant for the VR ecosystem, but is it the most effective?

HTC’s opposite number right now is Facebook. The social media giant’s Oculus division is the creator of the Rift headset and the Touch motion controllers. Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is also on record that his company has spent $250 million on VR content development so far, with at least another $250 million on the way. Facebook’s money is a powerful thing and it is enabling studios to create VR experiences that would never make financial sense without the free gifts Zuckerberg and his team are handing out.

Our question for you this week, therefore, is this: between HTC and Facebook, who is doing more to grow VR into a larger and more viable industry? On the one hand you have the hardware innovations of HTC and on the other you have untold millions being spent on content by Facebook.

Which strategy do you think is most effective? Which company is most significantly benefiting the VR space for both creators and consumers? Let us know in the comments below.

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What's your reaction?
  • Smokey_the_Bear

    It pretty obvious. HTC

  • Robbie Cartwright

    Oh wait, so there’s no actual vote button? XD And I thought this was a poll. lol.

    • Chris Orris

      Wait, yeah, we should do a poll. Upload?

  • bschuler

    Hmmm. Tough question. Let me think. One headset is going wireless this year, has a puck that enables countless control options, and is funding games that can be used by any VR headset. Everything on it is licensed and thus able to be used on other systems from other manufacturers in the future. Meanwhile the other headset is funding games that only work on it’s own headset and who’s current owners are starting to realize that is a big issue when the proprietary tech used by said headset is starting to show gaping, non-fixable issues and will most likely need a complete overhaul in tech for it’s next model. That said, I would say the company who’s products you won’t be throwing away in a year or so from now, cursing why you spent so much money on now useless proprietary games, is the one who did more to grow VR. The one that allows you to just simply buy a new headset and keep the rest of your games, lighthouses, controllers, etc.. if you choose.Thus HTC easily wins in my opinion.

    • GroovyMonster

      Rift is going wireless soon as well (KwikVR accessory, for one), and the TPCast guys already said that Oculus support is on the way as well. And don’t kid yourself, by the end of the year there will probably be many such wireless add-on solutions to choose from. You’re wrong if you think that’s going to be a Vive-only option this year.

      Anyway, Oculus is still my vote. In fact, there wouldn’t be ANYTHING else right now if Palmer Luckey/Oculus hadn’t kickstarted this whole thing in the first place a few years ago, remember that.

      • Joan Villora Jofré

        Do not count on KiwikVR. Is too slow.
        And Valve helped Palmer a lot at first, just so Palmer took away their best developers.

      • bschuler

        Yeah, I agree wireless will be coming for the Rift eventually and Palmer did get the ball rolling for VR. But I also think that Palmer would have crashed and burned if not for Valve’s help. Still, as for who is growing VR.. I still think the one making the inter-operable VR ecosystem is the future. IR tracking is a vastly superior tracking system and all these soon to be released IR puck powered tracked objects and controller options show it is the future. By this time next year, there will be hundreds of new IR tracked devices from hundreds of manufacturers. That, is by definition, an industry and is one huge advancement.

        • VicRooLoo

          >all these soon to be released IR puck powered tracked objects and controller options show it is the future. By this time next year, there will be hundreds of new IR tracked devices from hundreds of manufacturers. That, is by definition, an industry and is one huge advancement

          I’m going to have to disagree. I do not want VR to become an accessory riddled thing and when I saw the Vive Tracker and the gun thing I was reminded of the early days following the Wii. Sword, gun, fishing rod, steering wheel, shield etc accessories that fit the Wiimote. Do not want to be compelled or be sold a handful of Trackers to stick to things I have or buying combination Tracker and object bundles.

      • SmittenMuffins

        Yeah and who’s funding TPCast? HTC. They are funding and encouraging TPCast through ViveX to push wireless tech for VR, not just for themselves. Palmer certainly jump started things but that was years ago before he was bought by facebook. What has Oculus done for the community lately?

        • elev8d

          Agreed, Oculus’ actions seem more self serving. HTC doesn’t own TPCast, yet helped them develop their solution and are not limiting their ability to sell to Oculus with an exclusivity contracts. Valve built support for the Oculus and its peripherals from day one. I hope Oculus starts to open up a little and stops trying to control the market and data mine their users.

          • JSM21

            Oculus allowed the developers to add coding like 2 months ago for Vive to be able to play their games…did you not read about that? Whether or not the software developers choose to or not is up to them. You don’t see all of Windows programs available on the Mac do you? No. They could but choose not to. Each platform has their own games now and coming this yr as well so you might want to argue a diff point.

          • elev8d

            I didn’t read that, so does that mean Oculus Home will natively support the Vive like Steam supports the Rift? If so, I’ll install Home.

          • JSM21

            I said games….The home stores are totally different as I am sure the Vive has a diff looking Steam home page than the one for the Oculus steam VR…its horrid and bland looking. Besides from what I remember reading a wk or so ago Vive was coming out w/ their own home page as well.

          • Simplex

            “Oculus allowed the developers to add coding like 2 months ago for Vive to be able to play their games…did you not read about that?”

            Do you have a source for that information?

          • JSM21

            “Oculus has quietly removed software controls that prevented users of competing virtual-reality headsets from using and playing games that were developed originally for Oculus Rift VR headsets.”

    • CMcD

      Just curious, do you own the rift? Have you used the touch controllers? Or is your opinion based on your experiences solely with the vive?

    • JSM21

      You don’t read about VR a lot do you? Vive and Oculus will be wireless this yr whether from their own or another company and ALL 3 VR systems have games that are ONLY for their system w/ more on the way this yr. For price, if you tend to “throw away” any of the equipment then why bother buying it? And correct me if i am wrong, though I am not, they are BOTH coming out w/ new headsets….you really should read more that one VR news mag.

  • MikeVR

    Obviously Oculus VR has and continues to do the most to kick start a new viable industry and getting this new medium into the mainstream…

    HTC just showed off some random peripheral prototypes at a trade show and copied their competitors built-in headphone design, it’s hardly “growing VR”…

    • chtan

      Their product is plaquing with multitudes of problem now pending urgent resolution. Spinning touch is one, USB compatibility issue is another. Instability of tracking issue with 3 sensors is another big issue. Just go to their forum/reddit immediately you can see that they are facing with huge support tickets that they cannot resolve fast enough. Like i said long before it got to market, a product which needs multiple usb ports is a bad design. Tracking with camera is another huge con.

      Mean while HTC is starting to pushing new peripherals and add-on now with more to come soon. So, I guess HTC is leading the expansion now. Their tracking is just that simplier and accurate. I can just move my VR installation from house to house, plug the light houses in any corner, trace out the perimeter and off you go. With Rift, you have to battle with the camera location, usb problem. And lastly pray that it works if you move the installation.

      • Get Schwifty!

        The funny thing is the industry as a whole is with the exception of HTC using camera-based sensor technology because like Oculus the feeling is while Lighthouse is effective for small scale, it does nothing on the AR/Merged reality front which is where VR as a whole appears to be centered. Don’t get me wrong, as a Rift+Touch owner I can validate the current issues exist on a certain level, but OTOH, I can also tell you also that it works far better than Vive people want to give it credit for also. What seems to be the underlying question is when tracking transitions from one camera in a 3-sensor setup from front to rear mainly there is an issue with the overlapping fields of view, and that is most certainly due to a software issue that will get ironed out (the spinning controller is a result of an update recently in mid-December). The USB issues are overstated as well as the people having the issues generally are using systems that are a bit older and not rated well enough to run well in the first place. You effectively need 2 3.0 USB ports and two 2.0, that’s really not all that hard to accomplish with a modern PC.

        • Nicholas

          You can’t use an IR camera system for AR/merged reality. Removing the IR filter from the Rift cameras would confuse the tracking, and keeping it there limits it to IR tracking, so you’re pretty much stuck with what you’ve got right now.

          The only reason the “industry” mostly uses optical tracking is because it’s cheaper in terms of hardware (but computationally more expensive).

          • chtan

            The guy don’t even know what camera Rift is using. They are IR camera which is useless in AR, LOL.

            @Get Schwifty!
            If spinning issue is so simple due to overlapping it should be fixed by now. Tell me when is the promised fix then?
            Old USB port issue? Guess not. Many are using quite a latest mobo with newer chipset also facing the same problem.
            No doubt that Rift is a good product but don’t down play the problem that they are facing with yet with no remedy in near horizon. Just read up how frustrated their user are when Oculus keep numb on the issue without resolution. Spare part is also another huge issue for them. Some can’t even get the HDMI replace and leaving their unit eating dust now. Even their support openly admitted they are facing with huge support tickets which they are unable to go thru. quick enough.
            Now tell me who is the fanboy then.

        • Steebie

          I think everyone is missing that VR and AR will not occupy the same space. They offer two wonderfully different opportunities. With AR, you can superimpose data so that, say, a DIY’er can look in his engine bay and have data and labels overlayed over the engine parts…a sales clerk could scan a store and see exactly where a small item is as it is overlayed and highlighted on the display; with VR, you can create fictional environments and do things that simply can’t be done with AR because it’s not in the real world.

          • Chris Orris

            Agreed. And AR has little use at room scale anyway except in very specific use cases. World scale, or at least warehouse scale, is where it’s at. We’re definitely talking inside-out tracking here, which neither Rift or Vive has – though Oculus is at least working on it.

            That’s another reason IR doesn’t work so well for AR. You can’t even take those sensors outside on a sunny day, or else the sun will oversaturate it.

          • Nicholas

            Actually the Vive uses inside-out tracking (but with laser markers). Markerless inside-out tracking is hard…really hard. And easy to confuse, which is why it hasn’t made an impact on anything other than the $3000 Hololens (and that’s still less than perfect in terms of positional tracking compared to even the Rift).

            For AR, it will be acceptable though – having virtual objects wobble slightly in a real environment is better than an entire virtual environment wobbling in VR.

          • Chris Orris

            Yeah, that’s why I usually say the Vive “technically” has inside-out tracking, because being dependent on markers make it not really better than outside-in.

            Good point about the wobbles, too. A pokemon wobbling on your desk won’t make you sick.

          • GodMk2

            Are you sure 😉 I’d puke all over thet pesky little rat.


    Answer: Both.
    HTC & Oculus/FB are both working their asses off to help VR get a foothold as a viable industry. The VR community is better off because of competition. Period.

  • wheeler

    I think Valve’s actions have done the most to “grow VR”. Yeah, I understand it’s current to be anti-Valve and give everyone else the benefit of the doubt nowadays, but think of where PCVR would be without them: one HMD with closed VR hardware, closed VR software distribution, and a proprietary VR standard. Owned by Facebook. Forget that we’d have subpar tracking and almost all of the games would be designed for seated, gamepad experiences. Forget that (as Alan Yates stated) the Rift CV1’s core features are nearly a “direct copy” of the prototype Valve lent Oculus. The fact is consumers would be absolutely fucked if Valve hadn’t jumped in. That it was in Valve’s business interest doesn’t make it any less true.

    And I’m probably going to get called a fanboy for this, but I have to give them credit for not engaging in the same anti-consumer business practices that Oculus is. With their well established power in the PC games market, if they had taken the same approach … it would be all over. At the very least they could have had complete control over the standard and software distribution. And to be clear, they are not doing everything well, e.g. SteamVR is generally pretty buggy, the streamlined process for approval of VR games has resulted in the store being overrun with crappy unity demos while the good stuff gets obscured, very few VR devs even know about their VR game development subsidies, etc etc.

    But HTC? It could have been just about anyone else. They turned Valve’s R&D into a product–so what? Their support is garbage. Their RMA procedure is a nightmare. Viveport is a joke and practically malware (now they’re offering a subscription service? And here I was thinking that they couldn’t pay me to install it). They sat on their hands and waited to see if VR would actually go anywhere before actually investing in software–where were they 2 years ago?

    • MikeVR

      “give them credit for not engaging in the same anti-consumer business practices that Oculus is” — who got fined by the ACCC last year for misrepresenting gamers?

  • Nicholas

    HTC/Valve, easily. Oculus haven’t shown anything innovative for several months other than playing catchup.

    • MikeVR

      The Santa Cruz prototype for untethered inside-out tracking looked innovative to me…

      • Nicholas

        It’s basically mobile-grade VR, which is a step backwards imo.

  • user

    whoever does the most is doing a good job. vr games have a market share of 3% already.

  • Nik

    Money makes the world go round. At this point Facebook is leading the pack on content generation for VR and Valve is leading the field on tracking technology. Both are essential, but without content VR is worthless. Without major investments into the industry, many developers do not have the luxury to make content for it.

  • John

    If the comparsion just have to be about HTC vs Facebook then its the blue social giant who wins hands down in the bigger scope.

    But a more relevant question is if you look at three opponents: Valve vs Facebook vs Google who all are in it for the long game. There is no doubt that all three have done great jobs so far in growing the general ecosystem. But what it all comes down to is where people will buy the apps of course. And what kind of experience you get in that store. Right now Samsung benefits greatly from being on Oculus Home wile the Daydream users still have to rely on classic but limited Google play, and Vive users have Steam, Viveport and reVive.

    I would bet both Valve and HTC really hate reVive and what it stands for at this point. One of the reasons HTC offer subscriptionbased Viveport later this spring could be to combat this type of “compability” at this early stage. They really need to rethink how you discover and spend money on new VR-experiences. With already 1000 VR apps on Steam, its really hard to find good content or be seen as a developer. And I doubt Valve want to solve it for them. Viveport also have to differenciate itself from Steam in some way.

    So i see them all as really important factors for the VR-ecosystem as a whole. But in different ways. Valve just want to sell games with a 30% cut, Facebook sees the value of social and mobile where they already dominate the market, and want to sell apps with a 30% cut, and Google wants to sell Android with phones in a harsh battle with Apple.

  • laast

    My opinion: HTC were just opportunistic. They rushed their hardware, their marketing, their content (if there is any…) to release something salable before Oculus. This is that simple. Did they act first for “VR” or for their own business? Maybe Valve had better intentions, but at the final HTC did make these poor decisions.

    HTC is an unhealthy company, VR is their last chance to not going bankrupt…How could you ensure the future of VR when you don’t even know what will be your own future?

    Right now Oculus has better products, better contents, a better staff, and a long term vision of VR. They are investing tons of money for VR and they will invest more and more. Their biggest weakness? The Facebook tag…

    So if you ask me today who has done, is doing, and will do the most for VR growth, I’d say Oculus, no question.

    • CMcD

      I agree with you. The Facebook tag seems to be the biggest reason for all the hate. And while exclusives are constantly complained about Devs themselves have admitted how they haven’t recouped their expenses by selling on steam. Some of those Devs have already left vr developement, but no one wants to look at that reality “make it for everyone!” They cry while Devs go hungry and can’t pay their bills. Rift and their $500 million being invested in vr Devs is what vr needs to find talented Devs who can make a living creating vr games before vr is saturated by a large consumer base. Rift has solved the “chicken before the egg” conundrum by making the chicken AND the egg.

  • Darrell Markie

    3rd parties are now the ones doing the growth.

  • CMcD

    First off I currently own both the rift and the vive. Lots of vive only owners constantly complain about oculus exclusives but I must say that once my touch controllers arrived I stopped using my vive. I placed my two rift sensors in the same location as my vive lighthouses and have the same room scale experience albeit a slightly shorter chord. Both will eventually be wireless so that’s another mute point now.

    So now to answer your question. Playing my rift in room scale feels better and the vive Wands feel downright clunky and odd after holding the wonderfully ergonomic oculus touch controllers. I keep hearing about steam funding vr developement but where are those games? The exclusives coming for the oculus touch (hello robo recall you delicious looking vr game) look wonderful. I can play most of my steam library on the rift now as Devs add touch support, so the clear winner for me is rift rift now.

    But who is advancing vr the best? Well as unpopular as the masses of internet commentators may find it I have to go with oculus rift. The money they’re pouring into vr games is and will continue to pave the way for must have vr experiences that stack and stack until more and more consumers just can’t live without these experiences. Everyone cries about exclusives so there’s that, but the games oculus is pouring money into are fantastic, if the small price to pay is that they’re currently exclusive then either buy a rift or do the pc thing and use the hacks that are out there.

    Personally I plan on selling my vive now. I’ve gone back and forth with both and those rift controllers are just TOO GOOD to not use. Haters feel free to tell me why your vive is better and why Facebook sucks and why “exclusives” suck. But in the meantime I’m going to look forward to those exclusives that they’ve poured millions into and buy every dam one of them. Cheers!

    • chtan

      Go check up they are having tracking issue with multiple sensors. Also, the sensor placing is very sensitive not as forgiven as light house base station. Many said it might be a software solution but I begged for differ. If it is so easily solvable, they already fixed it. Guess what the reason for delay launch of touch? And also their 360 room scale is still in beta.
      The only advantage of Rift is only the exclusive title which they have but that’s also diminishing fast. Looking at the current development, HTC is pushing out new accessories now while Oculus is still playing fire fighting to correct their sensors problem and tracking issue with 360.

      • CMcD

        I haven’t looked at support pages for either the rift or the vive as I have had zero issues with both of them. Not saying the issues don’t exist just saying I have not personally experienced them and I’ve spent hundreds of hours in both headsets. While I prefer my rift with oculus touch at this time my main point was that Devs can’t afford to make a living simply by making vr games for the masses, and the exclusive deals oculus is making are allowing Devs to make an actual living making high quality experiences. SUPER HOT VR is fantastic and while I hope it comes to every platform eventually, if oculus throwing money at them helped them make such a fine vr game then it is a necessary evil in these early days of vr. Arizona sunshine feels just as AAA for vr as a fully realized game and that game isn’t exclusive so hopefully that can happen more.

        So again to summarize, someone needs to throw money at Devs so they can make high end vr experiences, and if a game doesn’t get crowdfunding then oculus and their money can help make games see the light of day that otherwise wouldn’t have.

      • JSM21

        I have a two sensor setup for the room-scaling and my sensors have no issues finding the touch controllers. We have even had a controller so high to hit the ceiling fan globe and picking up things off the floor in VR with no issues. Maybe the problems are from ppl not setting it up correctly? And a lot of games you play are probably “in beta” doesn’t mean they are having issues it means they are still adding to it.

    • JSM21

      I totally agree w/ you there. I don’t even use FB and find it annoying but that isn’t going to keep me from playing the Oculus lol.

  • Paulo

    Oculus has done more to push VR, no question. HTC rushed a product to market and they are bleeding their customers dry to stay afloat right now. The deluxe headstrap and overpriced accessories being good examples. I would say Valve has pushed more than HTC, and they aren’t really trying on the hardware side.

    Lighthouse has been great for GEN1, but the vive is a glorified dev kit. Oculus is putting so much money into content that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Ive seen 90% of the shovelware on steam and yeah, no thanks.

    I havent had issues with a 2 sensor 360 setup, but my room is not very large. It seems most people with tracking problems have issues because of their USBs/drivers. I hope that gets sorted out.

  • Donnie

    I think that both have done great things for VR this year. On the other hand, Vive fanboys have had the most negative impact on VR. They get in the way of productive conversation by constantly trying to validate their choice, for whatever reason, and it makes the VR community a less inviting place overall.

  • Mario-Galouzeau de Bocsa

    Oculus invested in game industry, but also develop beyond gaming. VR needs non gaming entertainment, professionnal, social applications to flourish. So, in my opinion Oculus is doing more for VR than their main competitor, who deliver very good VR experience, and solid tracking system, but that’s about it.

  • Ombra Alberto

    Won, who pushes on the contents. The hardware at this point is relative.

    The accessories? They are not tip the balance. They are nothing..

  • Pete

    Let’s face it, HTC/Valve stole the VR boom from Oculus and converted many Oculus enthusiasts to the Vive, including myself. Hopefully Oculus releases some big innovations soon, but right now they are still trying to play catch up.

    • polysix

      Including me too (Dk2 and Vive owner – now both sold awaiting gen 2)

  • robert

    Not to mention PSVR, which in another couple of iterations, could equal the tech of it’s competitors as well as continuing VR growth by bring it to the masses at an affordable price.

  • Steebie

    HTC is doing more for VR (started with room scale, accurate interaction, arcades, theme park rides, etc.) but I fear Facebook will reap the benefits with their deep pockets like they did with Touch. Come after and blow away the little company with big marketing, distribution, and unlimited advertising!

  • VicRooLoo

    I wouldn’t be able to say who is doing more to grow VR. Facebook is putting a lot of the money into the industry that otherwise would have slowed growth. HTC and Steams Lighthouse tracking is leagues better than the Rifts in accuracy and how the base’s don’t need to be connected to the computer which is a very clever way of approaching tracking.

    But on the other hand when I saw the HTC Tracker attachment I got flashbacks to the Wii and its onslaught of Wiimote Accessories. I will remain optimistic but I am really hesitant to the notion of buying a gun-sword convertible accessory and associated Tracker if a game needs it. And it was a factor to me how HTC struggles as a business and finding its market when I was buying my first VR platform.

    And the Oculus software seems so much in Beta. The room scale is experimental, people with 3rd trackers are getting barely improved tracking. The Oculus Store doesn’t have something as simple as filters enabled. Its literally impossible to browse the store for controller games outside of selecting and viewing each title. And there isn’t currently a desktop browser built in. Its kind of a PITA to select and download a game from the Store and then needing to take off the HMD to complete installation, especially if you have glasses like me.

    There’s so much more to go and so much more groundwork/foundation to lay. Its like the early days of the smartphone. By the time we hit breakneck speeds in VR, I hopefully will have the monies to buy and own both the Rift and Vive.

  • Scott Wilson


  • Chris Orris

    You know what I see? iPhone and Android. One closed, one open. iPhone made mobile big, but Android did lots of stuff they wouldn’t, and often faster. iPhone gives less freedom to both devs and users, but also doesn’t have a lot of the shovelware that lugs up the Play Store. There are tons of people who swear by their iPhones, and tons of people who wouldn’t touch one with a stick.

    My point is, the industry needs both. The fact that this is such a hotly debated issue is a beautiful thing. We get the benefits of two different approaches to the market, and can switch over if we ever get tired of the downsides.

    At this exact moment, it’s hard to say. I like Oculus but not Facebook, and I’m only kinda happy with HTC but I freaking love Valve. I could see this going all kinds of directions in the future, and though I’m on Team Vive right now, I wouldn’t be too surprised if I became an Oculus fanboy by this time next year.

  • JSM21

    A lot of you guys are arguing over the equipment which both platforms will have this yr more than likely but when it comes to content that is where they are divided. Oculus has more by way of full games with more on the way whereas the Vive has more “demo” sale games. I enjoy my Oculus w/ touch controllers tons and have never had any tracking or hardware issues. As far as I know Vive only has a few full games coming out this yr that are not YET stated to be available on the Oculus so don’t complain about ppl only making games for one platform, even the PS4 VR system is doing that.

    I researched loads of information equipment and games-the past, present and future of VR w/ each system. After about a month of considering and waiting for any new info regarding each system I decided to go w/ the Oculus Rift, yes even before the touch came out. Oculus seemed to be the company w/ a brighter vision for VR and not trying to just get something working and throw it onto the market as the HTC Vive did to say, “We was the first in virtual reality”.

  • jimrp

    I just wish all third party games that are not being paid for by Vive or FB be supported by all. Plus the developers stand to make more money.

  • polysix

    VALVE/HTC. Meanwhile in oculus camp it’s a case of ‘sorry we can’t do 4k’ ‘sorry we can’t do wireless’. Abrash telling everyone how shit VR basically is at the moment and nothing we can do about it until we are probably dead.

    Meanwhile, HTC/Valve didn’t get that memo. Wireless, 4k, New controls etc… Clearly Valve/HTC are doing more to push VR as openly as possible. Facebook now only care about VR on their strict terms. Which we all knew would happen when Oculus sold to them, gear VR is their main interest not rift anyway, and it shows.