Virtual reality isn’t cheap. Whether you are going for the low-end less-capable gaming machines or the high-end PC gaming rigs, you are going to be spending a lot of money for any virtual experience. Simply look at VR gaming arcades. We have seen rates as steep as $5 for 5 minutes, $15 for 20 minutes, and up to $30 for an hour. If you don’t want to commit to your own hardware, the time you spend in an arcade will rack up.
We understand that not everybody wants to, or is a position to spend thousands of dollars on a virtual experience. We have made this guide to help aspiring VR users find the best headset for their wants and needs, as well as the most essential apps and games for their headset.
Mobile VR – $30-$80
If you are new to the VR world, or simply wanting to see what all of the hype is about, there is no better place to start than your phone. To access any mobile VR experience, all you will need is a compatible smartphone and a cheap VR headset. This headset won’t be doing much computing, as it is a pair of over-glorified lens. Simply slide your phone into the headset, and you will have your first virtual experience.
The mobile VR market is dying off quickly, but there are still options out there right now. The best VR cases for your phone are the Google Daydream and the Samsung Gear headsets. These VR headsets are compatible with all Samsung and Google phones made before the middle of 2019. With both companies abandoning mobile VR, and VR in general, they have since stopped compatibility with their phones. You won’t find any headsets working with iOS hardware right now, but older devices will work just fine with an older lens too.
If you already have the compatible smartphone, you won’t be spending anything more than $100. You won’t find any app or game more than a few dollars, and the software will never be asking for a paid update. A simple and cheap fix to your VR needs.
Media VR – $150-$250
The Oculus Go is the best headset for media consumption inside of VR, and because that is the only real focus of the headset, we won’t touch on any gaming abilities of this headset. The Oculus Go is perfect to stream your favorite Netflix show, catch up on NBA highlights, or even watch the latest movies from Bigscreen VR.
Another feature of the Go is the ability to load in your own photos and videos. This feature is appealing to many. Another great headset for media consumption is the Avegant Glyph AG101 VR. This headset pulls the content right off of your phone. The gaming capabilities are slim, as this is essentially a projector that goes right into your eyes. If you are looking for a cheap, fun, and easy option to get your own content inside of your headset, this is going to be a great option.
The Go is prices at $200, but is often on sale. The Avegent Glyph is priced at $150, but the entire setup to get going with your phone is going to cost you just over $200. This is option of VR is going to give you slim gaming capabilities and plenty of media consuming abilities.
Low-End VR Gaming – $350-$450
If you are trying to get into VR, but don’t have the patience to deal with low-end media consuming headsets, you will need to hash a some cash. Although the price is going to be similar to the high-end gaming, you will be getting a different experience. The only standalone headset focused on gaming right now is the Oculus Quest. If you already have a somewhat capable gaming PC, you’ll be able to run the Oculus Rift S as well. Both are priced around $400 at all times, with sales and markups often impacting the exact price. The Quest is going to give you a completely different experience than the Rift S though. Both can play nearly all the same games, but opting for a headset that doesn’t require a PC is going to be beneficial.
As for the best apps and games to show off the power of this price range, it varies on your wants. If you are focused on gaming that is going to push the boundaries of your new headset, you’ll want to download games like Moss, Robo Recall Unplugged, and Beat Saber. Each of these games are going to set you back nearly $30, but each will keep you entertained for weeks on end.
High-End VR Gaming – $900-$2,800
From getting a high-end headset to purchasing a cable VR-ready PC, getting up and running can be a bit more expensive than anything else in the gaming world. If you are just wanting to get into PC gaming, your setup will likely be much cheaper than an entire VR setup. The Valve Index, the best consumer VR headset, is coming in at a price point of $999. The Vive Cosmos, the cheapest high-end gaming headset, is priced at $700, with sales going on often.
Depending on your preferred power, the PC can range from $800 to $2,800. If your budget isn’t limited for your gaming rigs, this is going to be the option you’ll want. These better headsets can do everything cheaper can do, and much much more. As for the games you will be capable of running on your new PC VR gaming setup, you won’t be limited.
Anything developers release with the VR stamp on it, you’ll be able to run. Whether it be a simple game of Beat Saber or exploring in your 100th hour of No Man’s Sky, you PC and VR headset will be running smoothly. Gamers with this nice of a setup will be gravitated to the more expensive and complete VR games, which can extend towards the $50-$60 price range. You will get what you are playing for, as the best devs in the world are working on these games.
You won’t want to get tangled in the high-end gaming of virtual reality unless you know you can afford it. Once you experience this quality of gaming for the first time inside of a headset, there is no going back.