Yesterday, HTC announced a pretty shocking piece of news; it was going to increase the price of the HTC Vive in the UK.
Yes, that’s right. Increase. In an industry where we’re desperately waiting for products to get cheaper, one of its leaders has done the reverse. Come Monday, August 1st, the Vive will see a price hike of £70 from £689 to £759. Add on top the estimated £56.69 cost of shipping, and it’s now, astonishingly, well over £800.
Now, I understand HTC’s position, and there’s even an element of us bringing this upon ourselves. In its post, the company cited “recent currency valuation changes and the current value of the GBP” as the reason for its increase. You don’t have to be an economy analyst to read between the lines; the company is talking about Brexit. The fallout of the UK’s historic referendum, in which the vote to leave the European Union narrowly won out, caused a rapid devaluation of the pound unlike anything seen in years.
As such, doing business with foreign companies is now more expensive than ever. Hence, HTC has decided to make up for its newfound losses by asking for more money in the first place. It’s easy to see how HTC reached this conclusion, and it’s far from the only company that’s considered this move and acted upon it. Inflation is an unfortunate reality as the UK strives to find its new place in the world.
But, to me, that doesn’t nearly justify punishing UK consumers by adding a significant amount of money onto the price of the Vive without offering any extra value. What’s most frustrating, though, is how the company has handled the situation thus far.
Let’s put this in a little context for our US readers. Without shipping the Vive’s UK price converts to a jaw-dropping $1003, roughly $200 more than the US price of the same unit. Currency conversions rarely work out in the UK’s favor when it comes to hardware, but this is certainly the largest gap I’ve seen between the two in some time, certainly within the VR industry. And we haven’t seen any other major gaming devices hike their price; the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One remain at their original tags.
And how does HTC go about letting people know? With a tiny blog post that, at the time of writing, hasn’t even tweeted out or posted on Facebook. It’s had around 24 hours now to properly get the message out and all it’s done is quietly announce that those considering picking up a Vive now have the weekend to decide. Consumers should be given a longer window and HTC should be doing more to alert people to the topic. It’s as simple as that.
Meanwhile, it would have been nice to see HTC offer a little more value to its product to help lessen the sting of the new price point. Granted the Vive comes with three excellent experiences already, but it could have generated a little goodwill out of the news if it had decided to hand over another few games for free. This news wouldn’t seem so bad if, for example, something like The Brookhaven Experiment and/or Fruit Ninja VR had been offered up as compensation.
Sadly, it looks like this is just one pill the UK market has to swallow. If the pound equalizes then hopefully this price hike will only turn out to be temporary, though it hasn’t really done so yet.
There might be some salvation for those that don’t get a last minute order in this week. UK retailer Game is still listing the usual price, but we don’t know if it will join HTC in its hike on Monday.
I’m not trying to preach here. Again, I understand HTC’s position, but more warning for prospective buyers would’ve been nice. Consumers are showing a lot of faith picking up such an expensive headset this early on, before it has proven itself as a worthwhile investment. They deserve to be treated better than this.
Let’s just hope Sony and Oculus don’t get any ideas.