Virtual reality takes a little longer - and that's okay
Virtual reality is becoming more expensive again. This could slow down the development of the technology, but is no reason to despair.
The Meta Quest 2 costs a hundred dollars more as of this week. $400 instead of $300. That already makes a difference for end consumers, especially in economically uncertain times like these.
The spontaneous price increase came as a surprise and will most likely have an impact on sales. The question is how much. The Meta Quest 2 contributed to the growth of the VR market like no other headset. If demand goes down, the consequences will be felt.
The days of cheap virtual reality are over. Upcoming headsets like the Playstation VR 2 (info) and Pico 4 (report) are likely to follow the trend and because they introduce new technology, will be anything but cheap. Not to mention the rumored Quest Pro and Apple's headset.
The low price of the Meta Quest 2 was made possible by Meta's fat ad business. Now that this is weakening, Meta is forced to reduce the subsidies. The price dumping has nevertheless achieved its purpose: Meta almost completely controls the VR market.
The price increase is a rare compromise on Meta's part. The company otherwise always signaled to push virtual reality forward, regardless of the cost. The news must have sent shockwaves in the direction of VR developers. Is the giant wavering after all? That might have been the question of one or the other studio that is betting its future on VR.
The end of the low price period, I argued earlier, was nevertheless inevitable. Virtual Reality has to grow up and stand on its own two feet at some point. That moment is fast approaching and with it the question of whether end users are willing to bear the cost of research and development.
Evolution of technology
This has been the case with other electronic devices such as the television, computers, and smartphones, with demand determining how quickly technology evolves. Virtual reality will have to follow the same path, without rock-bottom prices that paint a distorted picture of demand.
The technology needs to hold its own and retain customers, regardless of its technical maturity. Virtual reality is still in its infancy, true! But the industry can no longer use that as an excuse for lack of interest on the part of consumers. Televisions, computers, and smartphones all caught on, even though they were relatively primitive at the beginning compared to today.
Does virtual reality really need fundamental improvements to gain wider acceptance? The next few years will paint a clearer picture, but rapid breakthroughs should not be expected. Technological quantum leaps are rare and, judging by past development, will happen once, maybe twice in a decade. There is no shortcut.
So sit back and enjoy the ride.