OPINION: The Meta Quest headsets have been a revelation for the VR industry.
Thanks to the Quest’s all-in-one design and affordable price (at least compared to other VR headsets), it’s become the most popular VR headset by a sizable margin.
Steam’s hardware survey suggests that a whopping 41% of VR players were using a Meta Quest 2 to access SteamVR during November 2022. And when you consider that most Meta Quest owners probably won’t bother connecting the headset to a PC to use SteamVR, it shows the extent to which Meta is dominating the VR market.
Of course, Meta hasn’t been without its rivals. Both HTC Vive and Valve have headsets of their own but have targeted VR enthusiasts with high-end specs. And while HTC has attempted to create a VR headset for the mass market, the Vive Cosmos and Flow have failed to hit that sweet spot between performance and wireless freedom.
As a result, Meta hasn’t seen a serious competitor since the Oculus Quest launched back in 2019. However, that could be about to change.
This week, I published my review of a new VR headset called the Pico 4. I was incredibly impressed by the new all-in-one headset, offering a similar experience to the Meta Quest 2 since it doesn’t need a separate device to function and uses the exact same Qualcomm XR2 chip.
The Pico 4 actually surpasses the Meta Quest 2 in several areas. It has a higher screen resolution, lighter design and features colour passthrough so you easily locate your controllers while wearing the headset.
Unfortunately, the substandard game library prevents the Pico 4 from becoming a better option than the Meta Quest. Meta has been busy acquiring various VR game studios to gain an edge over competitors. As a result, Meta has exclusive rights to Beat Saber, Iron Man VR, Lone Echo and Resident Evil 4.
The Pico 4 is missing plenty of other excellent VR games too, including Among Us, Moss: Book II and Tetris Effect: Connected. Fortunately, this is an issue that Pico should be able to rectify in time. Not many companies can go toe to toe with Meta in terms of securing exclusive games, but there’s no doubt that Pico has the financial muscle to compete.
While it may be the case you’ve never heard of Pico before, it’s certainly not a small start-up company anymore. In 2021, it was acquired by Chinese company ByteDance, which also owns the social media platform TikTok.
With the financial backing of ByteDance behind Pico, it’s certainly possible that it will start investing in VR game studios too, or even copying Meta’s tactic by acquiring existing studios. By doing so, the Pico 4 would suddenly be on level footing with the Meta Quest.
While Meta will be no doubt concerned about this, it’s great news for consumers. Increased competition is already good news, as it incentivises innovation. Why would Meta bother investing in significant upgrades for the Quest range if it didn’t have any rivals?
With that in mind, it’s great to see the Pico 4 enter the ring as a fierce competitor. It will take time for the Pico to gain traction and become as recognisable as Meta. But with the Pico 4 becoming the fastest growing VR headset on SteamVR in November (reported by UploadVR) it’s certainly heading in the right direction.
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.