Everytime I see a comment on the Internet about how Chinese are always stealing western designs to produce similar looking Chinese products, such as the ones you’ll find in the discussion section of this website reporting the ANTVR kit (which is a Chinese rendition of Oculus Rift style VR), I cringe.
I cringe, because as a Chinese consumer, I have to say I’m a primary benefactor of Chinese ripoffs.
Chinese ripoffs help me get things I want cheap and close to home – the HOTAS joystick I use for flightsims for example – cost me $30 in a package that contained both the joystick and a steering wheel set. Sure they’re nowhere near the build and quality of specialized joysticks from American companies, but it is usable and I didn’t have to wait 6 weeks for it to be delivered by boat, or spend 150% the price Americans pay to buy it in my local computer market.
Now look at the ANTVR kit. Honestly, I don’t have high hopes for it. I’m almost 100% certain that Oculus Rift with its Facebook backing and American nerd R&D team, will kick the shit out of ANTVR in almost every way… aside from availability, manufacturing capacity, and price.
Oculus Rift dev kits are currently manufactured in very limited quantities. If I wanted one, I’d have to order it online, wait for my place on the waiting list before I actually have to wait some more for the kit to be shipped to my place. But hey, look there’s a Chinese competitor. Now I can get my gaming VR from 2 sources, that’s like double the availability. Plus, the Chinese version is cheaper and comes with an extra peripheral which I may or may not find useful. Now I have options, and as a consumer, I like options.
Sure, given the wealth and convenience I would rather buy stuff from an American brand than a Chinese brand, but I don’t have that luxury. Yet, such audacity on my part to want to enjoy a similar experience as my western counterparts, such audacity that I would prefer cheaper products – its times like these that I like Chinese ripoffs – they’re like a sort of necessary evil.
If the ANTVR guys are actually ripping off Oculus Rift, then good. I trust Oculus Rift’s R&D more than I trust a small startup company with questionable marketing’s R&D.