The Hidden Cost of Virtual Reality II (Oculus Rift & PlayStation VR)

The day that you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived, and virtual reality is finally available for your living room. Are you ready to get started on the gaming experience of a lifetime?

With the launch of the PlayStation VR headset on October 13, more options are available to you than ever before, including the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, putting VR in the reach of nearly every serious gamer. This is good news for gamers who are ready for the next level.

Before you rush out the door to buy your first headset, however, make sure that you’re truly prepared for what it is you’ll need to get the best experience possible. Think you’re ready? We’ll help you find out for sure; read on for everything you need know about the PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift systems and related equipment.

Is Your Room Big Enough?

One of the biggest challenges people are encountering with the HTC Vive is the need for a large enough space to play in. The recommended 6.5 ft. by 5 ft. is often not quite enough to move around safely in if the room is furnished for other purposes as well.

While you still need space for your VR set up no matter which one you choose, you may find that the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR are a little more flexible - perfect for those who live in apartments or whose families aren’t big on the idea of designating a room in the house just for gaming. Follow these guidelines to ensure that you’ve got the space you need to get a truly optimum experience.

For the Oculus Rift, you’ll need to make sure that the sensor is about 2-4 feet away from the headset for you to be able to play safely either standing or seated. Its sensor, called a “constellation tracking system”, is designed to be pointed directly at the headset like a camera, so you need to make sure that you have somewhere to place the sensor in front of you.

For the PlayStation VR, the company makes two very different recommendations. They do say that you should clear a space about 9.8 ft. by 6.2 ft., but you only need to be about 2-feet away from the sensor on the console to play. They also recommend that you play while seated and state that the headset won’t work if you get too far away. Therefore, you may want to clear a space for a chair roughly 2-3 feet away from the console; if you need to stand for a game, you may need to clear additional space to allow for a full body scan.

Because neither of these VR headsets requires you to move around the way that the HTC Vive does, it’s unlikely that you’re going to need a dedicated room; simply clearing a space is likely to be sufficient. To make this easier, you may want to consider placing your coffee table or other furnishings on a rug; simply pull the rug to the side to slide all of your furnishings over at once.

Is there a perfect setup for a VR system?

While you don’t need a dedicated room to use these systems, you will want to ensure that your setup makes it easy to play with minimal moving of equipment each time. You definitely don’t want reality intruding in your virtual world by way of a misplaced coffee table while you play, so think carefully about your room setup before you begin:

For the Oculus Rift, you’ll need to have a desk or table for the PC and accessories. You’ll also need to make sure that there is a clear path between your PC and your gaming area so you don’t end up knocking into your equipment as you play. Nothing will ruin your game faster than a misplaced swipe taking out your console, so give yourself the necessary space. If you need to have new outlets installed near your gaming location, you can hire an electrician to install them at $65 to $85 an hour.

If you want to keep your PC in another room, such as your bedroom, and do your gaming somewhere else with more space, you can do this with some extension cables; one for HDMI and one for USB. These cost between $40 and $65 each. If you don’t want cables running from room to room, you may need an electrician to run them for you or to install some new outlets to make the setup easier.

For the PlayStation VR headset, you simply need a space to keep your console that’s approximately 2-3 feet away from where you’ll be playing. A table or desk is more than sufficient, and you don’t need to leave the console there permanently either; PlayStations are fairly portable as far as gaming systems go so you can set up in the living room, your bedroom, or even start a VR party in the kitchen if that’s what makes you happy. The best part of this is the ability to try out different spots in your home until you find just the right one.

What You Should Know About Your VR System

It would be nice to simply grab a headset and start playing, but the headset is just one piece of the VR puzzle. Each one has several other components that are necessary to help ensure that it works the way you want it to.

For the Oculus Rift ($599), you’ll also need a gaming PC. Oculus does recommend a full line of different PCs that are Oculus ready, making the set up fast and easy. Costs for an Oculus ready PC start at just over $1000, and can go as high as $2000, depending on what other features you may want the PC to have. To help improve your gaming experience and allow you to immerse yourself more in the VR world, you may also want to invest in the Oculus Touch, a controller that works intuitively with your hands movements. A pair of Touch controllers costs $199, giving you a total cost of $1798 to $2798 with them or $1400 to $2400 without them.

For the PlayStation VR headset ($399), you’ll also need the PlayStation console at $350, its camera unit at $50, as well as either a motion controller at $50 a set or a standard controller at $15 a set. None of these other items are included with the VR headset; you’ll need to purchase them all separately for a total cost of $814 to $849

Let’s Talk About Accessories

Let’s face it; if you’re going to use VR, you want to truly experience everything it has to offer. A headset is just not enough; you want to fully immerse yourself and for that you need some accessories.

First, consider how you’ll play. While the HTC Vive is primarily set up for you to move around the room, the Oculus Rift recommends you play either seated or standing up and the PlayStation VR recommends you play seated as well.

Therefore, to get the most of your experience with the Oculus Rift, you may want to invest in an anti-fatigue mat for $39.95, which will help take some of the stress of your feet, legs, and joints while you play. Now you don’t have to worry about your legs going numb before you’re ready to call it quits. If you plan on playing seated, however, you may want to invest in a good quality gaming chair, which can cost between $239 and $600 on the DXRacer website. You may also want to invest in a wireless keyboard and mouse at between $10 to $250 for a keyboard and $6 to $150 for a mouse to give you more flexibility as well.

And if you’re using the PlayStation VR system, you’ll also likely want to play other games on the PlayStation 4 as well. In this case, we recommend you to install a Home Theater in your home with a mounted 48” LED TV, a smart HTIB, cable service, and audio setup as well, which will cost you around $1300 on average, but will give you better gaming, movie watching, and music listening experiences all around.

The Real Costs of VR

Nothing in this life is free, and every VR setup is going to have its startup costs. Between the three high quality systems available today, you can expect to spend:

  • HTC Vive: for the headset, gaming PC, additional cables, keyboard, and mouse for installing in a separate room, an electrician’s services, and an anti-fatigue mat, you can expect to pay a total of $2225.
  • Oculus Rift: for the headset, gaming PC, Touch, and anti-fatigue mat you can expect to pay a total of $1838.
  • PlayStation VR: for the headset, console, accessories, and a gaming chair you can expect to pay a total of $1099.

If you’re going to take the time to immerse yourself in the VR world, you want to ensure that you get the best experience possible, right? To do that you’ll need to make sure that you not only invest in the headset, but the other items and accessories necessary as well. You’ve waited a long time to get VR in your living room; make sure it’s everything you dreamed it could be before you get started.