The HTC Vive has finally received its first major, and permanent, price drop since launching in April of last year.
Starting today, the complete HTC Vive virtual reality kit, which includes a headset, two Vive wand controllers, and two tracking boxes, now costs $599 (and £599 in the UK), as opposed to its launch price of $799/£689. This cut is remarkable not only for its 25 percent discount but also its rarity. Throughout the system's 16-month lifespan, HTC has only offered one single-day discount of $100/£100 for the Vive system.
HTC's stubborn pricing strategy contrasted with that of the Oculus Rift, whose price has seen a few temporary and permanent price drops since launching last year. Those prices have fluctuated thanks in part to the later launch of add-on Oculus Touch controllers. Currently, an Oculus Rift and Touch bundle can still be purchased for $399, which means that Oculus's "limited-time" offer has lasted for over six weeks at this point.
HTC made sure to point out in its announcement that the price drop comes ahead of two major Vive exclusives coming this fall from Bethesda: Doom VFR (which I loved in preview form) and Fallout 4 VR (which I was less confident about). HTC also mentions "some other titles to be announced," but nowhere in the release does HTC mention the words "Valve" or "Steam"—which is curious, considering Vive piggybacks hugely on the SteamVR ecosystem. Instead, HTC has chosen to emphasize its own $7-per-month "Viveport" subscription service, which new Vive buyers can try out via a free one-month trial.
If you're wondering: no, the newly discounted bundle does not include the Vive's recently updated head strap with embedded headphones. That Deluxe Audio Strap can be purchased for an additional $100. The new strap, if you're wondering, adds both welcome embedded headphones and an improved fit and feel, but it's a pain to swap and install yourself.
Also unmentioned: Valve's forthcoming, cool-looking "Knuckles" VR controllers, which still do not have a release date, price, or official name but have landed in many developers' hands in prototype form. We're still waiting to hear more about these and Valve's three fully fledged VR games in development—and whether Valve's new controllers and games will perhaps launch in tandem.
There's no telling whether either Oculus or HTC are trying to clear out old stock before introducing new headsets by the end of 2017. We know Oculus has a keen interest in wireless headsets and inside-out tracking as standard VR headset features. Both of these features could receive a major spotlight at the 2017 Oculus Connect conference on October 11 and 12.