The Leading VR Companies Everyone Should Know About
Updated: June 07,2022
Although virtual reality technology is still in its early stages, there are already many companies connected to it to keep track of. Some are well-funded, others are just getting started – but they’re all worth watching.
Oculus. HTC. SONY. If you're at all interested in virtual reality, you've likely heard of these three companies. But who are the other major players in the VR space? Here are seven leading VR companies you should know about.
Oculus (Now Reality Labs)
Without a doubt, this is one of the biggest and oldest names in VR. Oculus was founded in 2012 by Palmer Luckey, who was only 19 years old at the time. The company became well-known in 2014 when Facebook acquired it for $2 billion. Oculus is best known for its Rift virtual reality headset, first released in 2016 after a successful Kickstarter campaign.
The Rift has become one of the most popular VR headsets on the market, and Oculus has continued to release new products, like the more compact Rift S. However, these days, its best seller is the Oculus Quest, the device that puts Oculus above all leading VR companies.
The Oculus Quest is a standalone VR headset that doesn't require a phone or PC to use. It was released in 2019 and has been met with positive reviews. The Quest offers a great VR experience, thanks to its high-resolution displays and built-in sensors that track your movement in space. It's also wireless, which makes it really easy to use. Its latest iteration is called Quest 2 and represents an all-around upgrade, with better screens, longer battery life, improved tracking, and even futuristic tech, like the ability to track individual fingers Minority Report-style.
After getting bought by Facebook/Meta, the VR company underwent a few name changes - first to Oculus from Facebook, which was quite the mouthful, and then to Reality Labs in early 2022.
SONY is a well-known electronics company that has been in business since 1946. In recent years, SONY has ventured into the virtual reality space with its PlayStation VR headset.
This piece of VR tech was first released in 2016 and has since made SONY one of the most popular VR brands on the market, selling 2 million units a year. It's more affordable than other high-end VR headsets, yet offers a great experience because it’s lightweight and easy to use. It relies on aging technology for hand tracking, though, making it less precise than the latest VR kits.
On yet another bright side, the PlayStation VR headset has an impressive game offering. Some of the most popular PlayStation VR games include Resident Evil 7, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR, Gorn, and Beat Saber.
SONY has recently announced PlayStation VR 2, a successor to its current headset that should be fixing many of the issues players had with the previous iteration. This new piece of VR hardware won't use a camera for tracking and will be connected to the PlayStation 5 console using a single cable. It will also feature haptic feedback in controllers, as well as the headset itself.
HTC is a Taiwanese company founded in 1997. The company is best known for its line of smartphones, but has also become one of the leading virtual reality companies thanks to its VIVE virtual reality headset. HTC designed VIVE in cooperation with Valve, the company that runs the popular PC gaming platform Steam.
VIVE was released in 2016 and offered an unbeatable VR experience at the time. The high-resolution displays and infrared sensors tracking your movement in space were something VR enthusiasts had never seen before. For years, it was the VR headset everyone wanted and practically the default Steam VR hardware, despite its steep price and the powerful graphics cards required to reach its full potential. VIVE still has a growing library of VR software available for it. Its most popular titles include Job Simulator, Superhot VR, and The Lab.
In recent years, HTC launched various virtual reality hardware to compete with the top VR companies. However, none of the devices reached the popularity of the original VIVE, despite hardware upgrades. For example, VIVE Cosmos is a high-end VR headset with a higher resolution display and inside-out tracking, and is much easier to set up. The company also launched VIVE Pro, a direct upgrade to the original VIVE, as well as standalone VIVE Focus headsets. Its latest product, the VIVE Flow, is the lightest VR headset so far, but it only works with Android phones for VR videos and experiences.
Valve is a company best known for developing the popular PC gaming platform Steam, but it’s also a leading virtual reality company. It entered the VR market with its aforementioned collaboration with HTC on the VIVE headset. Alongside the headset, Valve released Steam VR, a toolset enabling VR headsets to seamlessly work with Steam.
Valve's latest VR product is the Valve Index headset. It was released in 2019 and featured high-resolution displays, adjustable eye relief, and a wider field of view than the original VIVE. It also uses Valve's new "Knuckles" controllers, which feature haptic feedback and finger tracking. The Index is one of the most expensive VR headsets, retailing at $999 for a complete kit, offering a premium VR experience. To compensate for such a steep price, Valve grants each customer a free copy of Half-Life: Alyx, arguably the best virtual world ever made and a continuation of the award-winning Half-Life saga.
Lenovo is a Chinese company best known for its line of laptops. However, thanks to its Mirage Solo headsets, we can now count it among the leading companies in VR. This tech innovation was released in 2018, didn't require a phone or a PC to work, and featured WorldSense tracking.
The Mirage Solo can run Google Daydream's Wonderglade, Blade Runner: Revelations, and Lenovo VR Classroom.
Microsoft has recently stepped out of its Windows and Xbox comfort zone and created the HoloLens augmented reality headset. Strictly speaking, this still doesn’t make Microsoft a VR headset manufacturer, as the HoloLens is a unique augmented reality (AR) headset that doesn't require any external sensors. It’s one of the most popular augmented reality and mixed reality headsets. The headset uses a see-through display and enables users to interact with digital content in the real world.
HoloLens’ apps library contains Actiongram, RoboRaid, and Fragments. Microsoft decided not to become a VR gaming company and instead focused on productivity applications.
Microsoft's latest product is the HoloLens 2, another stand-alone AR headset. This device is aimed at enterprise users, especially considering its price starts at $3,500 and goes upwards. Microsoft has also recently unveiled plans to ship 100,000 of these devices to the US military as part of a $22-billion deal.
Lastly, we have to mention the biggest tech giant - Google. Alphabet's industry leader’s Daydream platform has secured it many partnerships with VR headset manufacturers.
Daydream is a virtual reality platform developed by Google, announced at Google I/O 2016, and it's available on Android phones. It’s designed to be used with Daydream-ready phones and features a headset and controller that allow users to interact with VR content like Google Earth.
Google has also partnered with numerous big tech companies to produce Daydream-ready headsets, which are often more affordable than other VR solutions on the market and offer a gateway to VR. Some of the most well-known Daydream adopters are companies leading in VR, such as Lenovo, Meta, and Samsung.
Frequently Asked Questions
The VR industry is still in its early stages, and many companies are vying for a position at the top. The most notable companies include Oculus, HTC, SONY, Valve, Lenovo, and Microsoft.
We've mentioned the most prominent VR players in our article, and they could be considered at the industry’s forefront. Of course, many startups are working on VR innovations right now, so this landscape might change in the near future.
None of the VR tech companies is close to developing the full-dive VR experience at the moment. Unfortunately, that tech is still in the realm of science fiction.
The most popular VR headsets are the Oculus Quest, Valve Index, and SONY PlayStation VR. These headsets offer the best performance and have the best game and app libraries.
The VR brand Oculus is not currently on Robinhood, but you can buy stock from its parent company - Meta.
Apple does not yet have a VR headset of its own. However, the company is rumored to be working on one.
While Oculus doesn’t have stock of its own, one of the leading VR companies and its owner - Meta - has stock available for purchase.
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While Damjan started his career in humanities, his interests quickly moved on to the tech and IT world. VPNs, antiviruses, firewalls, password managers - cybersecurity is what he knows best. When Damjan’s not losing hair over the dwindling of our collective sense of tech safety, you’ll find him looking for solace in 100-hour-long RPGs and rage-inducing MOBAs.