HTC’s Vive XR Elite is more than a new VR headset

Picture: HTC

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The Vive XR Elite is too expensive to compete with Meta Quest 2 and co. Still, the device is a milestone – for HTC and perhaps for the VR industry.

CES 2023 is over and the Vive XR Elite was the most prominent headset at the electronics show, along with Playstation VR 2. First impressions from press and show visitors were mostly positive.

This gives us hope that HTC is finally hitting the mark again after a long series of hardware missteps (Vive Cosmos, Vive Pro 2, Vive Flow) and has a device with a broad appeal up his sleeve.

We’ll soon find out if that’s really the case, as the Vive XR Elite is supposed to go on sale in March.

New territory for HTC

The price is certainly a downside: HTC charges 1,399 euros for the VR headset and controller in EU countries. In the US it’s $1099. The fact that HTC is aggressively marketing the device to consumers is a joke whose downfall no one understands.

HTC’s ambitions are serious nonetheless, as shown by the plan to build a platform for mobile VR apps based on the Meta Quest Store.

More than 100 VR apps are to be released in the launch window, including well-known software like Demeo, The Last Clockwinder (one of the best VR games of 2022), and Virtual Desktop. At CES, the Vive XR Elite debuted the standalone version of the PC VR graphics marvel Hubris (test), demonstrating the technical capabilities of the headset. Other well-known titles have been announced.

Kachelartige Übersicht des Software-Lineups für Vive XR Elite.

A look at the software HTC is promising for the Vive XR Elite. This is HTC’s largest standalone software offering to date. | Picture: HTC

With this Store initiative, HTC is innovating: neither with the Vive Flow nor with the B2B device Vive Focus 3, HTC had attempted to build a software platform of such scope, focusing on full-featured 6-DoF VR applications for end users. This will likely be a bigger event for HTC and the VR market than the first iteration of the Vive XR Elite.

After years of sole control of Meta, some competition is emerging in the standalone VR market

HTC is paving the way for what is currently the most promising virtual reality market, standalone VR, which Meta has been cultivating almost single-handedly for three years and which Pico and HTC are now pursuing as well.

What was not foreseeable in 2020 and 2021 will be a reality in 2023: Consumers will be able to buy mobile VR apps on three different VR platforms before the end of this year. The fact that there is finally competition in this field is one of the best news of the year. For HTC, developers and consumers.

The fact that the Vive XR Elite is too expensive to directly compete with the Meta Quest 2 and the Pico 4 is secondary for now. More importantly, after years of focusing on B2B, HTC is finally stepping back into the ring and contribute to an autonomous consumer VR ecosystem.

The Vive XR Elite is just the first iteration of the hardware, which will be continually developed and replaced. What’s really new, and which will grow steadily from day one, is the standalone platform itself. This doesn’t break Meta’s quasi-monopoly, but at least creates a balance.

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