Don’t get your hopes up for a mobile VR headset from HTC or details about the PC-powered Vive at the coming Oct. 20 announcement hosted by the Taiwan-based handset maker.
Valve’s Chet Faliszek laid to rest those rumors on Twitter, saying there is “cool phone stuff” being announced but it is “not VR related.” In July, HTC marketing director Jeffrey Gattis was quoted by TechRadar as saying mid-October was being targeted for the reveal of the final consumer Vive headset.
Since other people seem to be confused. The October 20th HTC event is not a Vive event. Cool phone stuff but not VR related.
— Chet Faliszek (@chetfaliszek) October 15, 2015
Just the facts, ma’am To recap the story so far, HTC and Valve publicly announced the PC-powered Vive headset back in March to compete with Facebook’s Oculus Rift. The headset would come with a novel positional tracking solution that could provide walk-around room-scale VR as well as a pair of hand-tracked controllers. Developers could apply for a development kit in April and by June some of the first units were shipping to developers, with a consumer version slated to follow by the end of 2015. Then HTC revealed this summer that revenue from the sale of Android phones has been disappearing. Making matters more complicated for the tech giant, HTC announced a 15 percent reduction in its workforce, or about 2,000 employees, in mid-August. However, while its core business struggled, HTC is investing more in VR, putting $10 million into Venice, California-based VR software developer WEVR and working with more than 1,000 developers in total on Vive. Despite betting heavily on VR, by the end of August the launch plans for the Vive seemed to have slipped slightly beyond the originally announced goal of the end of 2015, saying “HTC will offer the first commercial Vive units via a limited quantity of community and developer systems with larger quantities shipping in calendar Q1 2016.” While developers have been working hard to prepare their software for the PC-based VR platforms from both Oculus and HTC/Vive, none of the players have revealed the pricing of the headsets or definite pre-order and shipping dates.
The stream of VR developers getting content to a shareable state continues to grow. Still being surprised by ideas and execution. — Chet Faliszek (@chetfaliszek) October 15, 2015
Hands-on opportunities with the hardware have been in short supply too. In an effort to change this HTC announced it would be going on a worldwide tour with the Vive headset. However, stops have been met with high demand and long lines, leading to complaints from some on organization and availability.
So here we are working our way toward the holiday season and interested potential buyers have very little insight into which of the PC-based VR platforms will truly arrive first, at what price, and with software that will make the purchase worthy of buying in the first generation.
1st gen headsets are tasked with convincing the world that it wants VR. Many people will wait a gen or two to adopt, and that is okay.
— Palmer Luckey (@PalmerLuckey) October 15, 2015
What Luckey highlights is somewhat of a chicken and the egg problem. These first gen headsets may be tasked with legitimizing VR to the masses, but without more concrete information it makes it difficult for the early adopters to make a decision in the first place. Many people are anxious to make a decision so they can set aside the money to buy at least one of these systems, but critical information is being withheld for reasons unknown. One thing we can be certain of, which we have confirmed multiple times, is that the Vive will ship with two hand tracked controllers.
Other confusion – We are shipping with 2 tracked controllers. It is about the best VR experience and a baseline for all Vive developers. — Chet Faliszek (@chetfaliszek) October 15, 2015
In this information vacuum many are left trying to piece together facts from different sources and separate contexts to arrive at incorrect conclusions, like which headset is going to be the smart buy or the expectation that Valve would reveal Vive details at the upcoming mid-October HTC announcement.
And those are the facts of the HTC Vive as we see them in mid-October.