New Unity Plugin Will Lower the Cost of VR Ready PCs in the Future

Over the past few months we have raised some concerns over how expensive a VR Ready PC along with a VR device compatible with PC may be. Oculus Rift and HTC VIVE can take the all-in price up to $1500 – $2000.

Meanwhile, VR on console is way cheaper.

As you know, there is no VR device in development at Microsoft so the market is completely open to Sony and its PlayStation VR. PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR combined with peripherals like PlayStation Move and PlayStation Camera will cost you around $850.

However, VALVE is making efforts to lower the cost of VR ready PCs. For now, you need a GTX 970 to power a VR PC but that will change in the future. In fact, thanks to a Unity plugin, cards from 2012 like the GTX 680 will be able to run VR games.

Valve’s Alex Vlachos spoke at GDC:

As long as the GPU can hit 45 HZ we want for people to be able to run VR. We’ve said the recommended spec is a 970, same as Oculus, but we do want lesser GPUs to work. We’re trying to reduce the cost [of VR].

With a GTX 970, users will experience 90Hz and if they can manage to achieve this with lower specs, than cost can be reduced.

They are putting together a group of strategies collectively called “adaptive quality.” These can cut corners while rendering a VR image and by doing so reduce the burden on the GPU.

They are using something called “fixed foveated rendering” that works more with pixels in the middle part of an image because those on the sides are less likely to be noticed. This can work really well if eye-tracking tech makes it to VR.

I can run Aperture [a graphically rich Valve-built VR experience] on a 680 without dropping frames at a lower quality, and, for me, that’s enough of a proof of concept. Most art we’re seeing in VR isn’t as dense as that. So we should be pretty good to go…everything should be able to support that low-end hardware. But we need the right safety nets in place.

A recent survey suggested that PC users are less interested in VR and interestingly price isn’t a factor. However, those who consider price as a factor, expensive devices aren’t appealing so that make matters worse.

Source: GDC (Via: UploadVR)