HTC Vive with controllers and Lighthouse tracking

HTC Vive Facing Launch Problems Due To Pre-Order Auto-Cancellations

While news of the Oculus Rift’s shipping delays hit early adopters of virtual reality due to “component issues,” things are no different on the other side as the HTC Vive has been facing similar problems in shipping pre-ordered units. The Oculus Rift was launched on March 30, and the HTC Vive is just about to release on April 5. On HTC’s end, the dilemma is mostly due to mass auto-cancellations of pre-orders due to online payment process issues.

While HTC seems to be going for free shipping as recompense for shipping problems, the company has promised nothing else but resolving the issue regarding the payment process. The HTC Vive had been swarmed with 15,000 pre-orders within the first 10 minutes, which is surprising since the HTC Vive is actually more expensive than the Oculus Rift at $799—$200 more than its rival. This is mostly due to more powerful hardware and Lighthouse tracking for use in alternate reality integration.

HTC has been working on the problem, having already reinstated some of the cancelled pre-orders and opened up their support channels to deal with other issues as well. As for those whose pre-orders remain cancelled, HTC has recommended those affected to contact their financial institutions to inform them of the charges. Having this problem so close to its official launch date may be costing HTC Vive some of its built-up pre-release hype.

HTC Vive In Action At CES 2016
CES exhibitor Matthew Taylor paints in 3D virtual reality at the Intel booth using HTC Vive virtual reality goggles. [Image via AP Photo/John Locher, File]
A big part of HTC Vive’s appeal may be Valve Corporation’s vested interest in integrating it into Steam through its new SteamVR technology. This opens the door for the HTC Vive to the platform’s gigantic market share in the gaming and digital distribution markets, as well as eager developers willing to create and release virtual reality games through it. Valve had been preparing for the shift to virtual reality, having released a SteamVR Performance Test application that benchmarks whether a PC is ready for the HTC Vive or not.

The system requirements being pushed by SteamVR, and thus the HTC Vive, are quite lofty for most consumers. It calls for at least a Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or an AMD Radeon R9 290, a fourth-generation Intel Core i5 or equivalent, more than 4GB RAM, and at least Windows 7 SP1. The HTC Vive itself uses connectors for HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2, and USB 2.0 or better that must be plugged all at once in order to work. However, compared to the Oculus Rift’s need for one USB 2.0 and three USB 3.0 ports, it may seem more reasonable.

Meanwhile, there are the other challengers that have entered the burgeoning virtual reality market, namely the Sony PlayStation VR and Microsoft HoloLens. While it’s said that media will be more of a factor in virtual reality’s long-term mainstream appeal as opposed to gaming, there is speculation on the PlayStation VR outselling both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive when it comes out due to both its projected $399 price tag and gaming infrastructure courtesy of the PlayStation 4.

The reviews on the Oculus Rift had been mixed thus far, which may pave the way for the HTC Vive to give a much better impression with its better hardware and features. While it does seem that virtual reality is poised to hit the mainstream, there are still concerns regarding lack of content. For now, early adopters will have to make do with a limited library of titles while the wait for people to better adjust to the medium and come up with even more compelling ways for experiencing virtual reality continues.

[Image via HTC]

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