Valve Bets Big On VR's Future: Still Innovating Hardware, Preparing To Launch Software

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whiteodian

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If Vive was 80% cheaper, I'd buy one today. They are smoking something. Yeah, without games it's doomed, but they are clueless about moving product. It's just too damn expensive for the average Joe to want to get one.
 

dstarr3

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The first generation of new tech always is very expensive, because the first generation is the one that has to recoup the costs of alllllllll of that expensive R&D. That's years and years of spending money and making none of it back that they need to make good on. The second generation is always much cheaper, once all those bills have been paid. And hopefully we do get to see a revision from HTC or Oculus for... approaching half the price would be great.

But is $800 really that outrageous? Enthusiasts spend as much on a single gaming monitor. Or consider two midrange monitors and a gaming mouse/keyboard. That can easily reach over $800. It's an enthusiast price for enthusiast customers. But that notwithstanding, the cost will come down eventually. It'll have to if the tech wants to survive. While you can spend $800 on a gaming monitor, you can also spend $200 and be perfectly happy if your expectations are appropriate. And most people have $200 expectations, so if we could give them a $200 VR solution, problem solved.
 

anbello262

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I am really attracted to the whole idea of VR.

And even if the vive was 80% cheaper, around $150, I would't feel very compelled to get it, because there's barely enough content to be a true "gaming peripheral", and there are lots of things that still need ironing. No point in getting something that feels like a development prototype. And I have a powerful enough pc already, so no extra expense (apart from the games).

So I can imagine not wanting a Vive if you also have to upgrade your PC, find room in your house and be extremely careful with the lenses to avoid scratches.

When you only have a few great experiences, and many somewhat good experiences, but almost no good/great 'Games', there is not much reason to go thtough all the trouble of setting up VR.
 

bit_user

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Agreed. I bought OSVR HDK2, when it was on sale for $300. About 50% of the reason was Linux support (which I've heard ain't great) and the rest was just down to price & the fact that I don't plan to do anything roomscale.

I mean, let's face it, these HMDs are gonna be obsolete faster than anything else in my PC, and yet they're more expensive than any component (okay, I originally paid $1k for one of my monitors, but that was 12 years ago).

Now, I'm not trying to debate whether the price is justified. I think we're just responding to the claim that HMD price isn't such a significant factor in sales volume.
 

jossrik

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For me it's just that the tech just isn't there yet. AND, the tech right now is great. I have a pretty nice PC and got to play as much as I want with my little brothers Rift DK2. As awesome as it is, the content just isn't there yet for me to go and get a retail of anything, as was said, we're still really in a developer phase. The difference between a developer kit and retail isn't that great. I want better screens and higher pixels/refresh. For me the low res of the DK2 and relative low res for the mainstream screens is a deal breaker, it really breaks the immersion that could easily be there. But here's the problem, even on my pretty decent computer, pushing two low res pictures was a chore, I can't imagine what photo realistic 4k or beyond (I heard some one say that 8k per eye was ideal, I don't recall where right now though...) will require. There are HMDs that are higher resolution, but then we fall back to those aren't readily supported resolutions and the reviews of the HMDs are dismal at best. The guy who said the 800$ is an easy price to justify is only half the picture. 800$ is easy to justify if you're going to be using it a lot. On the strength of the DK2 we just bought the PSVR for RE7, tomorrow I get to try it out, what I hear is that it's pretty awesome, but even with REs good replayability, 500$ for a peripheral for one game, not everyone can justify that.
 

bit_user

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Isn't DK2 960x1080 per eye @ 75 Hz? Rift and Vive are a bit higher and 90 Hz. Let's call them a half-step in the right direction.

LOL, it's the same resolution as DK2! Clearly, resolution isn't really a deal breaker for you.
 

jossrik

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No, Resolution isn't everything, on the DK2 for me it was the screen dooring that put me off from retail. 2nd, I didn't buy the PSVR. That was all my little brother, so ya, I'll try it. You are close though, maybe a 1/4 step in the right direction, we're headed there. Looked at a Chinese HMD with 4k displays, but alas HDMI 1.4 input, and the reviews I could find on it were pretty harsh. With the DK2, the 1kx1k screens look pretty crummy. You can see the potential and I love using it, but I wouldn't buy one for my aging parents either. The VR groups want this to be as popular as the computer monitor is today, and that's just not gonna happen for a long long while. There are significant hurdles other than cost for it to replace monitors. One of the reasons I said resolution was a biggie for me is that I game in 4k, and while there is very little in the way of 4k movies and television, games look hella fantastic. For a comparison, go from a 1080p image to the same thing in SD. 352x240. It's a big jump, and while the game isn't all about graphics (I still play RE4), graphics can help a bad game overcome, and for some games it's just as important as all the other factors (won't get into what makes a game great, but there's a reason Pong is no longer on the top 10, well, lots of reasons, but I digress).

VR today is almost like black and white televisions. The vision is there, but it will be a long time coming before everyone's grandma has one. With the speed that tech evolves and everything seems to be moving I tend to believe that stuff like the neural thingie on Sword Art will only be 20 years out. Course when we went to the moon we thought Mars was right around the corner too.
 

bit_user

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That is an extreme position. I wouldn't want to wear a HMD of any kind, for even a quarter of the time I spend on computers at home + work.

If we were talking about some kind of AR device that's little heavier & more obtrusive than prescription eyeglasses, then maybe I'd start to think about it. But I still lust after a huge OLED monitor, and would use it for the next 10 years if I could.
 

jossrik

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I see your point. I use a 55in 4k Samsung as a monitor and I love it. Even at that, I know what you mean about wanting an OLED though. The 55in LG OLED is on this years list. Actually, I really want 4k in 3d at this size without the NVidia Vision stuff...
 

computerguy72

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High res and wider FOV would make this medium the ideal movie watching platform. Would be great for a 360 degree Windows desktop and countless other amazing ideas. They just need to evolve the hardware a lot further. I don't think price is as much of an obstacle as a nice TV can easily be $3k. $500-$900 or so for this if it's epic would attract a large audience.
 

Sakkura

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The intention is to use foveated rendering, which can cut down the GPU performance requirements dramatically. So that's what would allow for much higher resolution.
 

Actually, that shouldn't be a problem with fast eye-tracking and foveated rendering*, tech that already exists, and will likely start appearing in headsets within the next couple years. With foveated rendering, you render the area of the screen that the viewer is looking at using the display's full resolution, while everything in their periphery gets rendered at a lower resolution and detail level. Using these techniques, you could render a scene to 4k displays without increasing the performance requirements much from what today's existing headsets need, and the results would look virtually indistinguishable from rendering the full scene at 4k.
*and I didn't see Sakkura's post, which mentions the same thing. : P


Considering that only 0.22% of Steam users use 3840x2160 (4K) resolution, according to their latest hardware survey, I would say that yes, $800 is too much. And consider that some 4k monitors are available at less than half that price now. Similarly, only 0.23% of Steam users have an HTC Vive, and 0.12% have an Oculus Rift, and those numbers didn't rise at all from the previous month. Enthusiasts simply don't make up enough of the market to justify having big games developed exclusively for them. You need more mass-market adoption for companies to be willing to invest millions of dollars in games developed exclusively for VR, and as such, VR is going to need more mass-market pricing to really take off.

The consumer version of the Rift was originally intended to be around $300 to $400, but that somehow went up to $600 for its release, and now matches the Vive's $800 once its arguably-overpriced Touch controllers are added. This kind of pricing is not very appealing, especially when you consider that this is first-gen hardware with significant limitations that will likely be superseded by much-improved headsets very soon.


Actually, the Rift and Vive both "cheat" a little with the resolution of their displays by using Pentile OLED panels that double up on red and blue subpixel elements, resulting in them having a third fewer subpixels than a true RGB display, which is part of why many consider the PSVR's display to look a bit better.


That's not an entirely accurate comparison. SD is not 352x240, but rather 854x480 for widescreen, but even that isn't one fourth of 1080p. That would be 960x540. And of course, the amount of detail you can discern will be dependent on how big your screen is and how far you are from it, and past a certain point, you start getting diminishing returns from throwing in more pixels. On your 55 inch screen the difference is likely pretty clear, but at more common screen sizes the differences might be less noticeable. Of course, the current generation of VR headsets all have less-than-ideal resolutions stretched across your field of view, and I'm sure we'll be seeing that improve, particularly once eye-tracking starts appearing in headsets.
 

bit_user

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I considered adding a footnote about that, but you could file under GPU advancements, writ large.

Anyway, I remember reading that someone (Fove?) claimed only a 2x improvement in rendering speed. Still worth taking, but a little underwhelming. Hopefully, someone will manage a bigger improvement, but see Michael Abrash's comments on how quickly it all gets very complicated.

You misquoted. @dstarr3 said that - not I.

I also read that about the OSVR HDK2, except it also matches their pixel resolution. So, it should look even better.
 

Puuja_

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Nice Article AR, VR, MR has Great scope in future, Mixed Reality Market worth 453.4 Million USD by 2020
Download PDF Brochure: http://cutt.us/hlzk

Most of the large players in the reality market have invested in the mixed reality technology. For instance in January 2015, the Microsoft Corporation (U.S.) announced the launch of its mixed reality prototype product named HoloLens. The device features a see-through, holographic display and advanced sensors that map the physical environment. Moreover, other players such as Atheer, Inc. (U.S.), Meta Company (U.S.), Daqri LLC (U.S.), and Magic Leap, Inc. (U.S.) have developed prototypes to cater to various industrial and enterprise related needs.
 

Joe Black

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I think a good next step would be to maybe launch world wide. It sometimes feels like the vive tech department got a better coffee machine and the marketing team got free lobotomies.

Really... One year on and you can still only order it from a handful of countries.
 

Joe Black

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I should add that some of the shady importers arranging deals for the Vive in my country charge up to 200% of the dollar price and thousands of people are still buying even though they get no support.
 

ubercake

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Honestly? I see this VR push gaining as much popularity as 3D television. The manufacturers are pushing something people don't want right now. Aside from that, I don't particularly want to wear something bulky on my noggin for any reason.
 

evanevery

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Trying to make a "Good VR Game" is pure folly!

You don't make "Good VR Games". You simply make "Good Games" that work well in VR. If your just trying to make something good for VR all you will end up with is a short-lived "party trick".

The game has to be good on its own - even without the VR. VR is just the icing on the cake (assuming its even appropriate)... i.e. Tetris is/was a good game. But playing it in VR would just be "OK, this is kind of unique but it doesn't really add anything to the game play" kind of thing... Defense Grid is a really good Tower Defense game. They ported it to a VR environment and thats OK, but it really doesn't add anything to the game play. Its kind of fun to look around, but its not any more immersive, because Defense Grid is not an immersive game to begin with...

Right now, Elite Dangerous is THE game which scales the best to VR. I wish I was ONLY spending 20 hrs a week in Elite! My life is completely gone. I haven't seen my wife for weeks. Did I mention I was well over 50? I've been gaming since the Commodore64 was considered state-of-the art...
 

dstarr3

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Don't forget that the past few years sold many, many $800 high-Hz 1440p monitors. 4K isn't the only enthusiast resolution.
 
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