When it comes to virtual reality (VR) HTC hasn’t had the best 2019. Its main rival Facebook launched the Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S earlier this year for $399, then last month saw the release of HTC Vive Cosmos, which as everyone knows didn’t go very well. Now the company is doubling down on its original headset by offering pre-owned models for a reduced price.
Popping up on its US website, the ‘Vive Certified Pre-Owned VR Systems’ offer gets you a full system including HTC Vive, Lighthouse base station (v1.0) and motion controllers for $399 (excluding sales tax). The company notes that the systems: “have been carefully tested by HTC to ensure all features and functions work properly. They have been inspected to ensure they have little to no cosmetic damage and may contain used components and refurbished parts.”
While great if you want a cheap HTC Vive, it still begs the question as to whether you want to spend all that money on a pre-owned unit and how many HTC Vive’s have been sent back to make this offer feasible. It’s now no longer possible to buy a new HTC Vive from the US website – the UK website still lists a new model for £499 GBP with no pre-owned options – you can only go for an HTC Vive Pro or the HTC Vive Cosmos.
It also seems a little weird that a pre-owned HTC Vive wouldn’t try to undercut Oculus Rift S. At $350 or even $299, a refurbished HTC Vive would then make a tempting prospect, especially with Christmas coming up.
HTC Vive has been slowly losing ground to Oculus Rift in the last year, made evident in Steam’s monthly Hardware & Software surveys. For October the HTC Vive and Vive Pro only attributed to 35 percent of users while Oculus Rift alone had 35.92 percent, with Oculus Rift S then adding a further 13.7 percent.
Always a favourite with developers, even that bastion has been sliding. The annual Game Developers Conference (GDC) State of the Game Industry Survey showed for the first time creator interest has shifted away from HTC Vive towards Oculus Rift. Will a certified pre-owned HTC Vive be enough to sway consumers?