Facebook’s parent Meta Platforms has responded to the decline in consumer spending on technology, amid the economic downturn and global uncertainty.

Meta last week revealed it will drastically cut the prices for two of its virtual reality headsets, as it seeks to bolster the adoption of the nascent technology, which is so important to its ‘Metaverse’ ambitions.

Meta’s work-focused headset, the Meta Quest Pro, that was only launched last October, will see its purchase price slashed to $999.99 from $1,499.99.

Meta Quest Pro

Price cuts

Meanwhile the price of the 256GB Meta Quest 2 will drop from $499.99 to $429.99.

Meta announced the price cuts in a blog post, with the reduced prices beginning on Sunday.

“Starting March 5, the 256GB Meta Quest 2 SKU will cost $429.99 USD, while Meta Quest Pro will be priced at $999.99 USD,” the firm said. “Whether you’re looking to play immersive games, get creative, or collaborate with colleagues, there’s never been a better time to jump into VR.”

The 128GB Meta Quest 2 headset will remain at a price of $399.99.

The Oculus Quest 2 headset. Image credit: Oculus

“Our goal has always been to create hardware that’s affordable for as many people as possible to take advantage of all that VR has to offer,” said Meta. “That’s why we pioneered the first standalone headsets with inside-out tracking, letting people experience the freedom of wireless VR without the need for a separate PC or game console.”

“We’re committed to building a successful VR market for developers, businesses, and creators to thrive in. VR is a powerful social platform and creative technology, and the more people with access to it, the better,” said Meta. “Like you, we’re in this for the long haul. And we can’t wait to welcome even more people to the Meta Quest Platform for years to come.”

Sales issue?

Despite the fine rhetoric, there may be a good reason as to why Meta is trying to tempt consumers into purchasing its headsets.

Meta lost $13.7 billion on its Reality Labs segment in 2022 – the division responsible for building the company’s ambitious metaverse technologies.

Reality Labs generated revenue of $727 million in the fourth quarter, and $2.16 billion for all of 2022 – a decline from $2.27 billion in 2021 – including sales of Quest headsets.

Meta has also faced significant investor unrest over its heavy investment in the Metaverse, and matters were not helped by the high price of the Meta Quest Pro headset launched in October, which put it out of reach for most consumers, and indeed hard to justify for business users.

Image credit: Meta

In December research firm NPD Group data showed that sales of VR headsets in the US during 2022 had declined 2 percent, from a year earlier, to $1.1 billion (as of early December).

And it should also be remembered that Apple’s VR or augmented reality headset is also expected to arrive sometime, but an actual launch has yet to materialise.

Fatal headset

Last November, the founder of Oculus, Palmer Luckey, created perhaps the most disturbing tech device ever, for the Metaverse and virtual reality world.

Luckey revealed he had developed a virtual reality headset, called NerveGear, that could actually kill the wearer in real life if their avatar dies in an online computer game.

Lethal NerveGear VR headset. Image credit Palmer Luckey

Luckey relied on conventional munitions to add a lethal angle to his gruesome prototype.

Essentially the headset comes equipped with three explosive charge modules positioned above the visor, which can fire into the user’s head if his avatar dies.

Luckey at the time wrote that the prototype is “just a piece of office art, a thought-provoking reminder of unexplored avenues in game design. It is also, as far as I know, the first non-fiction example of a VR device that can actually kill the user. It won’t be the last.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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