Google is poised to make its virtual reality daydreams (sorry, the puns are too hard to resist) actual reality, as its Daydream View VR HMD will be available to purchase online and in brick and mortar stores starting November 10.
You’re Gonna Need A Different Phone
In the U.S., you can pick one up at Best Buy or Verizon stores for $79. It will also be available in Canada ($99 CAD), UK (£69 GBP), Germany (€69), and Australia ($119 AUD), or you can just head over to the Google Store and buy one online (pay now, it ships Nov. 10).
You can pair the Daydream View with any compatible smartphone. That list is a bit light at the moment, led by Google’s own Pixel phone and a couple of others, but expect it to grow exponentially in short order. The requirements for Daydream-compatible smartphones are vague at this point (probably Snapdragon 820, 4GB RAM, proper sensors, etc.), but certainly most smartphone makers would be foolish not to meet them on their flagship devices.
We know, at least, that SoC makers are already hard at work supporting Google’s VR demands.
Its Own Path
Google’s VR strategy is as unique as it is risky. Cardboard was a delight and revelation when Google unexpectedly announced it at Google I/O a couple of years ago. It was a dirt cheap but enchanting VR viewer that no one saw coming. The novelty quickly wore off, but Google was sufficiently compelled by the reception that it updated Cardboard in 2015 and announced its Daydream plans earlier this year.
Those plans were a little underwhelming. Many consumers were hoping for a true competitor to the Samsung Gear VR--a mobile VR gaming rig that was eminently affordable, and maybe even better than the Samsung/Oculus offering--but Google seems to have gone in a different direction.
True, there are some cool-looking games for Daydream, such as Gunjack, but Google has framed its newest VR HMD as more of a personal home movie theater. Just browse today’s announcement page. The featured apps include:
Google Play Movies (in 2D, on a virtual movie screen)
Invasion (a film)
Star Chart VR (a solar system exploring app)
The Wall Street Journal
New York Times (films)
Google Street View
And then there are some more interactive games and experiences, such as The Guardian VR’s London Underworld, a Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them game, Danger Goat, Hunters Gate, and more.
The content ecosystem will surely expand quickly--Daydream supports both Unity and Unreal Engine, after all--and some of that content will be games, but Google seems to believe that the home cinema will be a captivating and compelling sell for VR consumers.
This is a stark departure from hardcore VR gaming platforms like Rift, Vive, and PSVR, and even from the Gear VR in some ways. It’s a big bet, but then again Google has deep pockets and can pour enough money into its VR endeavors to ensure that if there’s success to be had down this particular road, it will find it.