It’s that time of the year again when we look back at all the exciting 2023 VR releases, VR headsets, and trends we saw this year in the VR tech world. This year was chock-full of announcements, new devices, and some rising new trends that might point towards what the industry's future might look like in the next couple of years.
Let’s recap some of the biggest announcements, and the biggest news, releases, and 2023 VR releases that got everyone talking this year and let’s look at what we think is coming in the new year.
The Year of XR Headset Releases/Announcements
Some of the top 2023 VR releases we saw this year, surprisingly didn’t focus solely on VR. We saw several manufacturers announce/release headsets that incorporated elements of both VR and AR. These XR headsets were some of the biggest announcements of the year and show that there may be a trend for XR devices to become more of the standard as we move forward. Let’s break down some of these announcements.
Meta Quest 3 Delivers Upgrades that Count
One of the biggest VR releases this year was the Meta Quest 3, the latest entry in the more affordable standalone headset line from the company behind Facebook and Instagram. The quest line has been our go-to recommendation for business VR users for the past few years with the first 2 iterations being game changers for many people. It’s hard to beat its price point that still delivers a powerful mobile VR experience. It’s also hard to beat the sheer convenience of having VR available anywhere and not having to worry about cables connecting you to a PC.
Last year Meta released the Meta Quest Pro, a new entry in the Quest line that looked to stand apart. It was their first device to have full color passthrough (the ability to see your surroundings outside the headset while wearing the device) and its AR capabilities were at the center of their marketing. Along with these new features came a much higher price tag than other Quest devices. This device also differed as instead of being marketed mainly as an entertainment device like previous Quest devices, this time Meta decided to market more of the ways it could be used as a business tool. Over a year later, it seems as if the Meta Quest Pro didn’t make the splash it needed to, and Meta has already made price reductions to move units.
However, with the Meta Quest 3, Meta has returned to form with another powerful mobile VR device that incorporates some features of the Meta Quest Pro, at a much more affordable price. In our impressions, we walked away with a great appreciation for the much slimmerpackages and the greatly improved resolution in the screens. Things just looked sharper, and the device just felt much more comfortable to wear. We were also impressed with the increased processing power and how that translated into some VR experiences.
Apple Finally Announces the Apple Vision Pro
For years, the XR community was eagerly waiting for Apple to announce some sort of headset. We saw render upon render of what people thought the device would look like and everyone was guessing at what features would be included in the device. Well, their patience was rewarded this year when Apple announced their first headset device called the Apple Vision Pro. The Apple Vision Pro by all means is an XR device with the ability to create virtual environments AR experiences, Apple didn’t use the terms AR or VR in their marketing instead referring to the term spatial computing.
So far Apple has only heavily shown the AR capabilities of the Apple Vision Pro. However, the AR experiences we have been shown are impressive. Apple has fit a lot of power into this headset and the way it can track your environment and place AR objects in them is impressive. Lighting from inside your room can play with AR objects and AR objects have realistic shadows inside your room making the whole experience look very futuristic.
Like the Meta Quest Pro, Apple is marketing the device as more of a business/efficiency tool, being used to work on presentations, or expanding your Mac desktop experience to larger windows. Time will tell how people use this device, and as we approach the release of the device in 2024, we can most likely expect to see more from Apple about this device and the experiences you can have with it.
PlayStation Delivers an Impressive Piece of Hardware
Another announcement this year worth mentioning despite its focus on gaming and entertainment is the PSVR2. The PSVR2 is a tethered headset that requires a PS5 to work which limits who can use it and where. However, despite that, Sony has created a headset with a lot of features that have grabbed people’s attention.
Image Credit: PlayStation Blog
It is one of the few gaming headsets that feature eye-tracking and developers have taken advantage of this by rendering around the viewer's focus. This means that when someone is looking through the headset the software will sharpen the image where the person is looking and reduce the performance outside of their vision. This means an increase of performance for most experiences. On top of eye tracking the high-resolution OLED displays stand out for the device and create vivid experiences for the viewer.
What do these announcements mean for the future?
As we enter 2024, we are hoping to see even more exciting VR releases from manufacturers all over the world. Based on what we saw in 2023, we can expect to see more truly XR devices and the Apple Vision Pro will probably change some of the game there. But along we can look forward to better screens as manufacturers learn how to cram every pixel they can into those headsets. But to make sure you’re up to date on the latest VR announcements make sure to follow us and keep your eyes peeled.