VR was often hot news in 2022. The term “metaverse” became the buzzword of the year, and VR was talked about more than ever. A decade after the formation of Oculus, virtual reality looked set to hit the mainstream.
But 2022 wasn’t necessarily the best year for VR. A mixed offering of headsets hit the market, but many of the major players appeared to be struggling to achieve their own lofty aims.
Of course, there’s more to VR than Meta, and many of the major tech brands have announced exciting new products set to launch in 2023.
With lots happening in the world of virtual reality, it’s easy to lose track of which company has products in development. With this in mind, here’s a run down of what we might expect over the next year in VR.
2022 In VR: A Review
As 2021 ended, the recently-rebranded Meta was generating considerable interest as the driving force behind metaverse development. Moving into 2022, the Meta Quest 2 was still the leading consumer VR headset available.
In October, the Meta Quest Pro hit the market. This prosumer device retails at a much higher price than Meta’s previous headsets, but the capabilities of the new hardware appear promising. Unfortunately, the software initially offered is yet to meet the same standard.
As the year ended, Meta’s aggressive metaverse spending and a drop in the company’s share price meant that the tech giant was forced to lay off 11,000 workers. Despite this, Meta still managed to dominate the conversation about VR. But there were plenty of other exciting developments elsewhere.
Days before the Quest Pro was released, the Pico 4 was launched in Europe. Although barely known outside of China, Pico is owned by ByteDance, the company behind TikTok.
Targeted as a competitor for the Meta Quest 2, the lightweight Android-based Pico 4 headset has pancake lenses, uses the Snapdragon X2 process, and has a great resolution. A clear alternative to Quest 2.
Like Meta, Microsoft also had a mixed year.There had been much speculation about whether there would be a successor to the HoloLens 2, but there were only hints that this may still go ahead from the company’s VP late in the year.
This uncertainty of Microsoft’s hardware development plans plays against a backdrop of issues with their military goggles which didn’t fare well in live testing, as well as a shift in focus toward metaverse software with a partnership with Meta being announced in the autumn.
VR Developments for 2023
While 2022 wasn’t the most exciting year in terms of consumer hardware, 2023 already looks set to eclipse it in this regard. Although the Meta Quest 2 has dominated the market for the last two years, a healthy dose of competition looks set to shake up the playing field.
Here’s the status of 2023’s expected hardware launches.
Sony’s PSVR 2 is due for release on February 22nd. To coincide with the release of the headset, early adopters will have 37 new games to choose from within the first month.
It’s been six years since Sony released their original VR headset. While it’s remained on the market for all that time, it’s not really held its own. With such a big gap, the PSVR 2 feels like a second shot at the VR market rather than the company building on its previous model’s success.
So, does the PSVR 2 represent a threat to Meta? The answer is probably not. Because it isn’t a standalone headset, users will need a PS5 to use it. That said, with Sony’s reputation for being a gaming powerhouse, there are certainly going to be plenty of great titles to make the device an attractive proposition.
Although it’s faced several delays, Apple’s mixed reality headset could hit the shelves as early as spring 2023. It’s believed the headset will retail for around $3,000; however, there are plans in the pipeline to release a lower-cost version in the near future, which could have a similar price point to the iPhone.
When Apple enters the market, it’s likely that the VR sector will change immediately. The company’s pedigree for game-changing innovation of the highest high-quality is well-known, and whatever they bring to the table will no doubt be replicated quickly by the likes of Meta.
As it stands, the current AR functionality on the iPhone is actually better than the Meta Quest Pro. Before Apple plants its flag in the VR market, it’s proved it can deliver on MR hardware, and shown that whatever the company releases will stir up the industry.
HTC Vive XR Elite
HTC’s newest headset will start shipping on February 25th. With a slightly lower price tag than the Meta Quest Pro, the Vive XR offers very similar features such as enhanced AR passthrough.
In the past, HTC has struggled in terms of content, but it looks like this won’t be an issue when the Vive XR Elite hits the market.
A new small scale French startup will take on Meta this year when the Lynx R1 is launched. The headset uses OpenXR and Android 12, features hand tracking, and 6D0F as well as controllers with camera tracking.
The Lynx R1 price point pitches the device against the Meta Quest 2. The headset will also have an Android app that lets users connect their smartphone to use its keyboard.
Meta Quest 3
At some point in 2023, Meta will aim to follow the success of the best selling Quest 2 when the metaverse company releases a new standalone consumer headset. It’s unlikely the Quest 3 will give us anything new, with many of the core Quest Pro features finding their way onto the new device.
Of course, Meta’s problem is that the Quest still doesn’t have the comparable software availability of the major players in the gaming industry, leaving users with limited choices.
Virtual Reality In 2023
Although 2022 wasn’t worth writing home about when it came to consumer VR, 2023 is already looking promising. With a few definite dates worth noting in the diary and the hint of Apple’s mixed reality device coming soon, the VR market could all change over the coming months.