HTC’s VR Lineup Has 11 Headsets and Its Modular Strategy is a Mess

With the re-introduction of the corporate’s Cosmos VR headsets with 4 totally different variants, HTC’s Vive lineup has turn out to be a complicated mess with 11 totally different headset packages to select from. Even when simply contemplating the Cosmos lineup itself, the corporate’s method to ‘modularity’ makes little sensible sense.

Replace (March fifth, 2020): We reached out to HTC with a chance to reply to the critiques outlined on this opinion piece. We’ve added their suggestions to the tip of the article under.

Since this text was unique printed, HTC additionally introduced adjustments to their Vive Professional lineup which can take impact later this 12 months; the article addresses the public-facing advertising as of the unique publishing date.

Unique Article (February 28th, 2020), Up to date: Whereas HTC began out as a powerful participant within the client VR area, the previous few years have seen a gentle decline of the corporate’s prominence. Following the launch of its latest PC VR headset, Vive Cosmos, late final 12 months, utilization of the headset on Steam has amounted to little greater than a drop within the bucket, and performed nothing to curtail the collective decline of HTC headsets used on the platform, which have fallen from 43% of monthly-connected headsets in January 2019 to 30% in January 2020.

In comparison with rivals Valve and Oculus, HTC is the one one of many three which doesn’t management a significant content material distribution platform for VR; the necessity to derive most of its revenue from gross sales might be the rationale why the corporate has had hassle competing on worth.

However past questionable pricing, HTC has had equal hassle sustaining readability in its headset lineup, and its newest strikes could have solely made issues worse. Proper right down to the construction of the corporate’s headset naming scheme (the place ‘Vive’ may seek advice from the corporate’s whole VR division, all of its headsets, or a single headset), its headset lineup has turn out to be overwhelming.

Right here’s the corporate’s 11 totally different headset packages that it’s presently advertising on the market now or within the close to future; this doesn’t embrace the 2 Vive Proton prototype headsets introduced final week.

Vive Professional Starter Package
Vive Professional Full Package
Vive Professional McLaren Restricted Version
Vive Professional Eye
Vive Cosmos Play
Vive Cosmos
Vive Cosmos Elite
Vive Cosmos XR

Vive Focus
Vive Focus Plus

Let’s ignore the truth that HTC has been wishy-washy on whether or not the ‘Professional’ line is supposed for enterprises or for customers—let’s simply faux we’re a possible buyer trying both to purchase into VR for the primary time, or improve from a first-gen headset, and let’s say we’re simply Cosmos, which is the corporate’s newest consumer-facing headset.

Cosmos Modularity Makes No Sense

HTC's VR Lineup Has 11 Headsets and Its Modular Technique is a Mess 10Picture courtesy HTC

With Cosmos, HTC says it’s all about modularity. With 4 variants of the headset, customers can decide the one which’s proper for them (oh wait, one of many variants of the corporate’s client headset line, Cosmos XR, is supposed for builders… so simply three). And, the corporate guarantees, swappable faceplates imply you possibly can transfer between variants in case your wants change sooner or later. Neat! Besides it doesn’t really make sense in observe, generally.

First, take into account: every of those headsets has a $200 worth distinction between them:

Cosmos Play – $500
Cosmos – $700
Cosmos Elite – $900

(Notice: HTC initially informed us Cosmos Play can be priced at $500 however then walked that again and says they haven’t settled on a remaining worth; it’s unclear if they are going to make it kind of costly, however we’re working beneath the $500 assumption for now.)

Second, there’s three ‘improve’ choices to think about:

Cosmos Play → Cosmos (this will get you two extra cameras for higher monitoring)
Cosmos → Cosmos Elite (this will get you SteamVR Monitoring)
Cosmos Elite → Cosmos (this will get you again to Cosmos inside-out monitoring)

And third, the corresponding faceplates to swap between these every value $200.

HTC's VR Lineup Has 11 Headsets and Its Modular Technique is a Mess 11Picture by Highway to VR

Appears to make sense, proper? However the massive drawback right here is that the separate faceplates are $200 alone and don’t embrace any of the opposite mandatory . So, for instance, right here’s what it can really value to improve to Cosmos Elite from both of the opposite Cosmos headsets.

Cosmos / Cosmos Play → Cosmos Elite (Modular Improve)

Faceplate: $200
2x Vive wands: $260
2x Base Stations: $268
Complete: $728

Sure, that’s proper. Should you purchased Cosmos after which determined that Cosmos Elite would have higher suited your wants, your complete value of Cosmos ($700) plus the modular improve ($728) can be $1,428. That is removed from the modular promise of ‘protecting your choices open’ when the value distinction between Cosmos and Cosmos Elite is $200 on the time of buy, however $728 should you take the modular route.

Okay, that’s a bummer, however let’s have a look at one other instance. You obtain Cosmos Elite for $900 however determined you just like the comfort of inside-out monitoring and also you need the identical monitoring protection that comes with Cosmos. So all you’ve gotta do is drop $200 for the Cosmos faceplate and also you’re good to go, proper? Sadly, no, as a result of Cosmos Elite doesn’t embrace Cosmos controllers, so that you’ll have so as to add these too. Right here’s your value breakdown:

Cosmos Elite → Cosmos (Modular Improve)

Faceplate: $200
2x Cosmos controllers $200
Complete: $400

As soon as once more, your complete value right here for the Elite ($900) plus the modular improve ($400) is now $1,300.

There’s just one case the place Cosmos modularity actually makes any sense, and that’s when going from Cosmos Play to Cosmos. So should you decide up HTC’s entry-level Cosmos Play at $500, however later resolve you need higher monitoring protection, you possibly can add the $200 Cosmos faceplate just about with no strings connected.

On this case you possibly can really transfer between these headsets with out paying greater than the distinction between the headsets within the first place (since you have already got the required controllers), although after the improve your headset nonetheless gained’t have built-in audio (which comes included with Cosmos).

Technically you may also go from Cosmos Elite to Cosmos Play for $200 by including Cosmos controllers with out altering faceplates (as a result of Elite has the identical default cameras as Play), however we are able to’t think about many individuals who would take into account this feature.

Not Offered Individually

HTC's VR Lineup Has 11 Headsets and Its Modular Technique is a Mess 12Based mostly on photographs courtesy HTC

This modularity would make a bit extra sense if HTC would promote the Cosmos headsets individually. In any case, that means individuals who purchased into their VR with the unique Vive (which suggests they have already got SteamVR Monitoring base stations and controllers) would profit from that funding by merely shopping for the Cosmos Elite headset by itself to make use of it with their present . As a substitute, HTC has left no clear path for loyal, present VR prospects to decide on Cosmos.

By solely promoting the headsets bundled with controllers and different , HTC has created a roundabout path the place—if you have already got SteamVR Monitoring base stations and controllers—your best choice is to purchase Cosmos Play for $500 after which add the Cosmos Elite faceplate for $200, successfully getting you the Cosmos Elite headset for $700 (as an alternative of $900), however nonetheless leaving you with two Cosmos controllers you don’t need however needed to pay for anyway.

As a substitute, essentially the most reasonably priced possibility for individuals who have already got SteamVR Monitoring base stations and controllers, is to not purchase a Cosmos headset in any respect… however to purchase the Vive Professional HMD—the one PC headset the corporate sells individually—for $600. Why is the “Professional” possibility essentially the most reasonably priced on this case? One other nice instance of HTC creating complicated positioning of its headsets.

Proceed on Web page 2: However It’s Higher Than Nothing, Proper? »