Virtual reality systems or “VR” have been entertaining users since before the turn of the millennium, but only in the last five years or so has the technology become a very reasonable option for in-home entertainment. Including augmented reality, or “AR,” which is an aspect of VR (often things that add aspects to a live object like Instagram filters), the market grew by more than 70% from 2019 to 2020, valued at $6 billion.
Given, some of the reason for the increase in sales was due to the COVID pandemic that, in a sense, took actual reality away from a lot of people due to stay-at-home orders and other forms of legislation aimed at slowing the spread of the virus that ultimately resulted in people having to stay in their homes.
Regardless of the reasons, VR is the undisputed future of video games, with a lot of money currently being invested. Previously, these lacks of investments were what kept the technology expensive, and certainly not something that almost 25% of Americans would use in a given year, as they did in 2020, according to emarketer.com.
That number is projected to grow to 28.5% by the end of this year, with a large reason being the affordability of the systems. Here is a closer look at some of the top-selling VR consoles of 2020, and the expectations regarding their relevance a year from now in this rapidly evolving industry.
OCULUS Quest 2
Synopsis: It wouldn’t be a complete list of VR headsets without having the most recognizable (and affordable) names in VR right now included. Owned by tech giant Facebook, the Quest 2 from OCULUS is heralded for its ease of use, its comfort, and the massive variety of games, especially given the novelty of the product. Given the ease of use, this is often a choice for beginner VR users, but many hardened VR veterans still swear by the OCULUS line of products.
Longevity: The Quest 2 was released last October, just over a year-and-a-half ago. The first Quest was released in May of 2019, meaning it was 17 months between system releases. With that, the Quest 2 is probably already halfway through its life as OCULUS’ flagship product, but it is, indeed, very competitively priced and continues to sell more rapidly each month.
Sony PlayStation VR
The Sony PlayStation name has been around since 1994, so many users of this product haven’t known a world without PlayStations. Given the quality that the name has proven to provide, this product is touted for its ease of use, as well as its ability to act as a “bridge” to VR for nonfamiliar gamers looking to explore the new technology. The headset can be used as a 2D screen to play classic PlayStation games and has the largest catalogue of available VR games.
Compared to the Quest, the price can be a bit deceiving, as the PlayStation VR requires separate purchases of the PlayStation 4 or 5, itself (different headsets for each, so tread lightly), and a PlayStation Camera.
This headset is now 5 years old, but it continues to sell, with more than 5 million headsets being worn across the world. Another good tell of whether or not a system is going to be obsolete is the amount of new games coming out, and they are still doing just that. This headset is still considered a good purchase even though it is dated compared to some of its competitors. This “age” does make it noticeably lacking in things like graphics and lag.
HTC Vive Cosmos Elite
When it comes to computer engineering, the Cosmos Elite(HTC Vive Cosmos Elite) is certainly the most advanced on this list, but with that comes a price and some difficulty in appealing to the layperson who may be wanting to try out VR before diving in headfirst. The graphics are unparalleled, as is the life-like audio. Some users don’t like the fact that there is a cord, which is unique compared to the other two on this list. The Vive series also has been selling itself to business circles as a means of conducting immersive training.
The newest version of the Vive, the Cosmos Elite, was released in October of 2019, more than 3 years after Vive’s previous release. If three years continues to be the company’s upgrade timetable (and no confirmed releases of anything new are on the books), this product should have at least another year before a better (and likely, even more expensive) option is offered.
All of these products offer more pros than they do cons, with the most glaring differences being usability and price. Beginners would probably fare better with the Quest 2 or the PSVR, but the Cosmos Elite is considered to be a much better VR experience by those experienced in VR experiences!