The Cost of VR – Is it worth it?

Virtual Reality gaming is now a reality and despite it being in its infancy, it’s taking the gaming industry by storm. But is splurging your hard earned cash on the VR itself and the system to run it effectively actually worth it? Let’s have a look at the cost and the implications of owning VR.

It’s a new and exciting world that offers more than just motion sickness. It’s the ultimate immersive way to play video games and it’s readily available for general purchase. Like any new fad or first generation console, it’s the price that puts people off more than the possibility of bumping into something whilst you’re wearing a headset.

The price might not be right

Imagine for a second that you have no gaming console or PC to use. This is the base of summing up our cost of owning VR. The first thing to think about for console VR is which consoles can run and VR and what’s the cost. PlayStation 4 is currently the only console with VR capabilities.

When it comes to having PlayStation VR you essentially have two choices to make. You can buy the slim line PS4 console, which will cost you between $260-$300 depending on the hard drive size. For people with deeper pockets or those wishing for a better VR performance, you can buy the PS4 Pro, which costs anywhere from $390. Both of these options are capable of running games in VR, but the PS4 Pro offers a much better performance and also has 4K support.

So now that you’ve bought you console, it’s time to look at the cost of the VR itself. For the headset alone the cost is anywhere from $349 and that is literally all you get. No games, no controllers or camera, the headset on its own. If you want the full VR package you’ll need to spend a little more. Amazon lists a PSVR package at $449.99, which includes two motion controllers, camera, and a game, along with the headset.

For the basic VR package including a console, you will be spending $600+ as a minimum. That’s if you buy the console and hardware brand new of course. It sounds expensive, doesn’t it? Well, this is actually a moderate price when you compare it to the cost of running VR on PC.

Console yourself

So first of all, any new VR headsets are going to require one hell of a gaming desktop to run them properly. Yes, I said desktop. You’re going to struggle to find a Laptop capable of running any new VR headset currently and if you do find on, you’ll be paying well over the odds for it.

The minimum requirements to use the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive are listed as an Intel Core I5-4590 or above. You’ll also need a graphics card in the GTX 970 range or above. The processing power isn’t your worry here, is the cost of having a machine with a powerful enough graphics card where you’ll get stuck.

When you’re looking at a base price of a PC that’s powerful enough, you’re realistically looking at starting from $900. If you shopped around enough and spent the time searching for the best deals, you could probably scrape a machine together for that. Now that’s just for the PC itself and even then, you’re not going to see the best results from your VR.

So you’ve spent you $900 or so on your brand new PC, let’s start shopping for our VR headset to go with it. You have a couple of options here, the cheaper option being the Oculus Rift, which you can find on Amazon from $360+, you can pay more for the inclusion of controllers as usual, which I recommend. The HTC Vive is the more expensive option coming in at £599 on Amazon, which includes all the goodies and extras needed to play.

After all of your shopping, the full PC VR experience means you’ll be spending at least $1300 dollars for the basic package, which is far more expensive than the PSVR.  

How deep is your love

One thing is clear for VR, it’s very expensive to run. This cost is likely to come down in the future, but not by a lot and not for a while. For those of us committed or privileged enough to own the system you’re likely to hear nothing but good things.

In a world where money is tighter than ever, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth spending all that money for a technology that is still very much in its infancy and as of yet, doesn’t actually have that many games at the moment.

The games will come in time, but VR is a beast of its own and it’s very much suited to niche games at the moment. First person shooters may sound great on VR when you think about them, but the reality is that motion sickness is at its most here. When your mind thinks it’s moving but your body is actually stationary, this can provide some stomach churning moments.

When you consider you will have to spend $600 as a minimum for the most basic VR package, you have to wonder if that’s worth a lesser experience at the moment. You can go out and spend less than half that and have the full Hellblade: Senua’s sacrifice journey for example. If money is not an issue for you, I’d say go for it and enjoy this new experience. If your budget is tighter, like most of us, you probably want to wait for a price drop, or for that game you just can’t say no to.

VR is most definitely the future, I’m just not sure if it’s a future we can all afford, not yet anyway.

Constantly threatening to write a book, but always with a story to tell. Tom has a typical northern English soul. He may sound as mundane as Jon Snow, but at least he tries to articulate. Lover of video games, comics, geek pop culture and wishing he could play Dungeons & Dragons.
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