The VR Wars haven't officially started, but most gamers have already decided on a winner. According to recent analysis from the Electronic Entertainment Design and Research (EEDAR), a market research firm, gamers are looking to Oculus VR and the company's Rift headset as the de facto leader in the marketplace, despite not currently being on sale yet and a fairly steep $599 price tag. The report suggests several reasons for Oculus' strong lead, including consumer awareness and a perception of high quality.
It Pays to Be First
The EEDAR report shows that Oculus currently has a 83 percent consumer awareness among both console and PC gamers. The PlayStation VR is at a distant second with 47 percent with the Google Cardboard on its heels at 44 percent. Interestingly enough, the HTC Vive only has 14 percent awareness, despite a great showing at last year's Game Developers' Conference (GDC).
Much of Oculus' brand recognition stems from consistent news coverage starting back in 2012 with the Rift's Kickstarter debut. From there, being purchased by Facebook for $2 billion and teaming up with Samsung for a mobile VR headset, only helped to raise the brand's profile. The generally positive coverage of the Rift experience has also allowed many gamers to reconcile the $599 price tag.
The Power of Messaging
What is it about Oculus Rift in particular that has gamers so excited? It starts with messaging. Oculus CEO and co-founder, Palmer Luckey has consistently positioned the Rift as a quality product that will deliver a superior gaming experience. A steady stream of demos over the years has resonated with consumers, despite many never getting to try the device themselves.
Because of this momentum with developers, the Oculus Rift will likely have an advantage in terms of VR content selection. Gamers are so gung-ho about the Rift that they believe it will be better than the Vive, despite HTC's device having some advantages.
For instance, HTC and Valve will offer room-tracking capability to let you move in the VR environment. In addition, the VR controllers for the Vive, which let you see and use your hands in VR, will be available at launch. The Rift's Touch Controllers will go on sale after launch, but Oculus will bundle an Xbox controller with its headset. The latest developer version of the Vive features a front camera that will add limited augmented reality capabilities to the headset, as well as better head-tracking.
Overall, it's clear that the Vive has a lot to offer, but HTC and Valve will have to make a lot more noise to be heard above the Rift's buzz.