“Hugely disappointing” would be the only way to describe today’s news from KatVR, the company behind the upcoming omnidirectional VR treadmill Kat Walk Mini. One week after telling fans that its latest, smallest model would be “affordable” for “the average consumer,” the company revealed today that it will briefly offer the motion accessory for “only $1,499” ahead of a regular price of $2,999.
If the “average consumer” is a normal individual who paid between $200 and $500 for a VR headset — and probably less for accessories — KatVR’s promise was clearly misleading. But if the “average consumer” of VR is a multimillionaire or high-end arcade, perhaps this 4.9-foot-square black platform will have a shot with some special definition of mainstream users.
The issue is likely one of perspective. Following widespread excitement within the VR community over KatVR’s promise of general affordability on Reddit, a representative of the Chinese company contacted VentureBeat to manage expectations — but not offer actual pricing for the new model. Although the company had offered its larger original Kat Walk to Kickstarter backers for $399 to $599, it later raised the “final commercial price” to “around $5,000,” the representative said.
The eye-popping price increase appeared to be a typo, given that the company was offering bundles of 10 Kat Walks for around the same price, but the company said that the revised price was accurate. So while Redditors expected Kat Walk Mini to debut at or below the early bird pricing of the first model, KatVR apparently felt that a starting price several times higher would still be more “affordable.”
Preorders for the accessory open tomorrow, April 13, and prices jump every week by $200 to $500 until the $2,999 price is reached. Interested customers are now urged to contact the company’s sales team for “pre-order instructions.” For most people, however, the wait for a legitimately affordable solution akin to the options in Ready Player One will continue.