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Ctrl+Alt+Delete: Meta has lost sight of the Quest’s main appeal

OPINION: I love the Meta Quest 2. It’s my favourite VR headset yet, being one of the only options to hit the sweet spot between accessibility and performance.

But when I gave it a 5-star rating back in 2020, it wasn’t because this VR headset offered the very best specs, design or library of games, because none of that is true. The main reason why I rate the Quest 2 so highly is because of its fantastic value $299.99/£299 price.

At that price, it’s slightly cheaper than a Nintendo Switch OLED, and considerably more affordable than a PS5 and Xbox Series X. Having such an affordable price is especially important for a VR headset, as most people don’t have much experience with virtual reality, and so it becomes a riskier purchase. We all know what we’re getting with a games console, but with VR you may be prone to motion sickness or simply won’t enjoy the increased level of immersion.

Back in July, PCGamesN reported that the Meta Quest 2 is the most successful virtual reality product to date, and has even outsold the Xbox Series X. That’s incredibly impressive considering that previous VR headsets have been considered niche products, and have struggled to appeal to the mass market.

However, Meta recently made the controversial decision to give the Quest 2 a $100 price hike, taking the cost up to $400/£400 for the 128GB version, and up to $500/£500 for the 256GB model.

A white Oculus Quest 2 kept on a wooden table, back left view

This now means the latter configuration has a similar price to the PS5 and Xbox Series X, while the base 128GB configuration is considerably more expensive than a Nintendo Switch and Xbox Series S.

That would be fine if the Meta Quest’s game library was a similar calibre to the Nintendo, PlayStation and Xbox consoles, but that’s simply not the case. The likes of Beat Saber, Resident Evil 4 and Superhot VR are all great fun on the Quest 2, but they are nowhere near as prestigious or enjoyable as the likes of Breath of the Wild, God of War or Forza Horizon 5.

So why did Meta make the controversial decision to increase the price? On Meta’s own blog, it said the price hike will “help us continue to invest for the long term and keep driving the VR industry forward with best-in-class hardware, action-packed games, and cutting-edge research on the path to truly next-gen devices.”

That’s pretty vague, and still doesn’t really explain why Meta decided to do this two years after launch. One potential explanation is that Meta recently saw its first ever year-on-year revenue decline in the firm’s history.

With Facebook and Instagram seeing a fall in advertisement sales, seemingly due to the rise in popularity of the likes of Tik Tok, Meta could be trying to make up for the financial loss by maximising the revenue from its VR market.

Meta also recently made a U-turn on its decision to force Quest users to create a Facebook account due to fan backlash. The greater number of active Facebook accounts means Meta gets a greater slice of pie for advertising revenue, enabling Meta to subsidise the cost of the VR headset. But with the link to Facebook soon to be severed, Meta may well have decided it needs to make up for the loss of advertising money by other means.

Whatever Meta’s reasoning, it could well be a costly mistake for the company to hike up the cost of the Quest headset. You could argue that a price jump for a 2-year old headset isn’t too problematic, as most people who want a Quest 2 have most likely already purchased one by now.

But it’s what the price hike means for future Meta headsets that concerns me. Meta is planning to launch a new high-end headset, called Project Cambria, later this year. If the cheapest configuration of the Quest 2 is now $400/£400, then that means a high-end headset will likely cost somewhere between $500 and $600 at the very least.

It would be difficult for Meta to sell large quantities of a VR headset if priced that highly. It would also mean future Meta headsets could have a similar price as the Vive Cosmos range, resulting in far more competition than what the Quest 2 faced.

PSVR 2

Meta will also be facing fierce competition from Sony, which is gearing up to launch the PSVR 2. PlayStation has already confirmed the PSVR 2 will have a new Horizon game as a launch title. If PlayStation continues to push more popular first-party games onto its VR headset, it could become a more appealing option than future Meta headsets, despite the requirement to be plugged into a PS5.

Meta has at least teased exciting new technology for future headsets, such as hand tracking improvements and Air Link, but I doubt they will justify the loss of the Quest 2’s greatest asset: its affordable price.


Ctrl+Alt+Delete is our weekly computing-focussed opinion column where we delve deeper into the world of computers, laptops, components, peripherals and more. Find it on Trusted Reviews every Saturday afternoon. 

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