Good news for those looking to try the exciting world of virtual reality. Meta has announced price cuts for both the Quest 2 and Quest Pro VR headset. Though it’s worth noting that the former doesn’t undo the impact of last August’s price rise.
That means that from March 1, you’ll be able to buy a 256GB Meta Quest 2 headset for $429.99 — $30 more than the 128GB version which sadly will maintain its current price of $399. That’s also $30 more than the 256GB version cost at launch, so there’s no reward for playing the long game.
The Quest Pro cut is both substantial and welcome, however. The $1,499.99 Pro headset will drop $500 and come in at $999.99 from March 5 in the United States and Canada, and March 15 elsewhere.
“Our goal has always been to create hardware that’s affordable for as many people as possible to take advantage of all that VR has to offer,” Meta wrote in a blog post accompanying the price cut.
“VR is a powerful social platform and creative technology, and the more people with access to it, the better. Like you, we’re in this for the long haul. And we can’t wait to welcome even more people to the Meta Quest Platform for years to come.”
One eye on Apple VR/AR headset
A 33% price cut just four months after release could point to two things — and possibly both.
The most obvious interpretation is that the Meta Quest Pro simply isn’t selling, which isn’t hard to believe. The hardware is very impressive, but the number of people who actively need a high-end VR headset is vanishingly small, and it arrived at a time when everyone is trying to tighten belts and cut costs.
In other words, getting a critical mass of people to pay $1,500 always felt a touch optimistic. It’s rough on those that did stump up the ‘early adopter tax’, but there we are.
The more limited price cut of the Quest 2, however, suggests that Meta is having no trouble shifting those headsets, even in budget-stretched times. A price cut for the 256GB model points at stock clearing ahead of the Meta Quest 3 to me. The headset is rumored to be coming later this year.
But there’s another way to look at this, away from simple sales figures. The price drop could be a move to make the Quest Pro look more appealing than Apple’s upcoming Reality Pro headset, expected to land in June with an eye-watering $3,000 price tag attached.
Meta has bet big on virtual reality and the Metaverse — you don’t rename your company in such a way if you’re not serious, after all. And it’s equally clear that it’s prepared to sell products at a loss in order to be the market leader in what it sees as a growth industry.
Indeed, CEO Mark Zuckerberg was explicit in saying as much last October when talking to Stratechery’s podcast.
“It’s typically people build hardware and they try to make a profit off of it, where if you’re Apple, you build hardware and you charge as much as you can for it,” Zuckerberg said, before seemingly contrasting it to his company’s approach.
“I do think that having someone come into the space and basically say, ‘We’re going to build the best hardware in the space and we’re going to basically sell it at a break-even point and in some cases, maybe even slightly at a loss in order to basically help grow the ecosystem with the business model of basically having the revenue come through software and services’.
“That business strategy I think is aligned with the mission of basically connecting people and having people there because if you want to build a social experience, you have to have the people there.” That certainly echoes the sentiment of Meta’s most recent blog post.
But Apple may also be aware of the limitations of the high-end-only strategy, and there’s talk of the company introducing a cheaper version of its VR headset too.
We shall have to see what happens in June. But between Meta, Apple and the new PSVR 2 headset, reports of the death of VR certainly appear exaggerated — even if, for now, it remains a rich person’s hobby.