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The Oculus-Meta Quest time price has dropped 86.3 percent in five years.

Virtualizing Christmas Abundance

By Gale Pooley @gpooley

It’s hard to believe that the Oculus virtual reality headset is only five years old. Released to the public in 2016 at a price of $599, the original Oculus Rift sported a 1,080 by 1,200 OLED per eye display for a total of 2,592,000 pixels. The Touch — a technically optional but very important component of Oculus— costs $199. The setup also required a gaming PC that cost $1,000 or more. That would put your total cost around $1,798.

This Christmas, the rechristened Meta Quest 2 can be acquired for $299. While the new headset looks somewhat similar to the original Oculus Rift, the new unit includes its own CPU, GPU, RAM, and storage memory. The 128GB unit can hold now hold around 80 games. The unit offers a 1,832 by 3,800 LCD display for a total of 7,034,880 pixels, which is 171.4 percent more than the original Rift.

Today users can choose from over 250 games, of which 85 are multiplayer games. Sixty of these games have generated over $1 million in revenue, with six titles generating over $10 million.

Since we buy things with money but pay for them with time, we prefer to analyze the cost of an Oculus-Meta using time prices. To calculate the time price, we divide the nominal price of the system by the nominal wage rate. That will give us the number of hours of work required to earn enough money to buy the system.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the blue-collar hourly wage rate increased by 21.5 percent from $21.72 per hour in 2016 to $26.40 in 2021. Thus, the time price of the Oculus-Meta for a blue-collar worker declined 86.3 percent from 82.78 hours in 2016 to 11.33 hours in 2021. As such, blue-collar workers could buy 7.31 systems in 2021 for the same number of hours of work it took to buy just one in 2016.

Enjoying virtual reality has become 630.9 percent more abundant, growing at a compound annual rate of around 50 percent a year. If this trend continues, the Meta Quest in 2026 will cost less than 1.5 hours of work and be much more powerful as well.

Professor Gale L. Pooley teaches economics at Brigham Young University, Hawaii. He is a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute and a board member of HumanProgress.org

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