With each year, virtual reality tech inches closer to bringing the fidelity and immersion afforded by high-end PC VR solutions down to a more accessible, mass market price point. Last year's launch of the Quest, a standalone headset from Facebook-owned Oculus, was widely seen as a big leap forward for mid-range VR, and it seems we may get another soon.
Bloomberg reports that a new version of the Quest is in development, targeted for release either for the end of this year or in 2021, depending on whether the COVID-19 pandemic leads to delays. The current Quest, which retails for $399, comes with a pair of motion-tracked controllers and can be used to play standalone games without needing to be connected to a PC. That alone is a huge boon for players who can't invest in both a VR ready PC and a headset, but with the addition of Oculus Link support last fall, it can also be used with a PC to play games developed for the Oculus Rift or for SteamVR. Oculus Link support is also said to be supported by the new Quest models in development.
Sources tell Bloomberg that there are multiple revisions of the Quest in "advanced testing" that are lighter and feature faster refresh rates. The 72Hz refresh rate is one of the biggest drawbacks to the first-generation Quest, as higher refresh rates minimize visual artifacting and accordant motion sickness.
Oculus is also testing new controllers, which sources tell Bloomberg should also be backward compatible with the current Quest. It's possible that Oculus could be redesigning its Touch controllers, used for both the Quest and Rift S, to include a form of finger tracking. A recent patent filing from Sony Interactive Entertainment also suggests that it is seeking to replace the PlayStation Move with a new finger tracking controller in the next generation of PSVR.
While VR adoption rates remain relatively low for PC owners and miniscule when compared to the saturation of consoles, demand for Oculus' units and other headsets has been high in recent months. Granted, some shortages have had to do with current production set-backs due to COVID-19, but in the lead-up to the launch of Valve's Half-Life: Alyx, Oculus' headsets were sold out for weeks. Both the Quest and Rift S are popular choices for new VR customers, as neither headset requires external tracking sensors—and yet even Valve's pricey Index kit, sensors and finger tracking controllers included, sold out multiple times in the past few months.
In addition to continuing to push Oculus' hardware forward, Facebook continues to invest in the VR software space. Facebook recently purchased both Sanzaru Games, makers of Asgard's Wrath, and Beat Games, the studio behind the smash VR hit Beat Saber.