Pre-orders for virtual reality HMD the Oculus Rift are now open!!
Coming in at $599 USD (Plus Shipping & Tax) the price has come as a shock to many who were expecting the consumer version Rift to retail at around $350 USD.
The Rift has been under development for a number of years now and throughout its development Oculus have been alluding the consumer Rift would be around the same cost as thier second developer kit (DK2) at $350 USD and would be sold at cost or at a loss by Oculus.
In a recent interview with Ben Lang from roadtovr.com Oculus founder Palmer Luckey even helped to reinforce the pricing misconception, when asked if the Rift price would come in around that $350 ballpark target Luckey responded with:
"You know, I’m going to be perfectly honest with you. We’re roughly in that ballpark"
This massive increase in the expected price has left a bad taste in the mouths of many in the VR community who voiced their disappointment via the Oculus subreddit. Oculus held a reddit AMA earlier today where Luckey apologized for the confusion and admitted they could have handled public cost expectations better.
"I handled the messaging poorly. Earlier last year, we started officially messaging that the Rift+Recommended spec PC would cost roughly $1500. That was around the time we committed to the path of prioritizing quality over cost, trying to make the best VR headset possible with current technology. Many outlets picked the story up as “Rift will cost $1500!”, which was honestly a good thing - the vast majority of consumers (and even gamers!) don’t have a PC anywhere close to the rec. spec, and many people were confused enough to think the Rift was a standalone device. For that vast majority of people, $1500 is the all-in cost of owning Rift. The biggest portion of their cost is the PC, not the Rift itself.
For gamers that already have high end GPUs, the equation is obviously different. In a September interview, during the Oculus Connect developer conference, I made the infamous “roughly in that $350 ballpark, but it will cost more than that” quote. As an explanation, not an excuse: during that time, many outlets were repeating the “Rift is $1500!” line, and I was frustrated by how many people thought that was the price of the headset itself. My answer was ill-prepared, and mentally, I was contrasting $349 with $1500, not our internal estimate that hovered close to $599 - that is why I said it was in roughly the same ballpark. Later on, I tried to get across that the Rift would cost more than many expected, in the past two weeks particularly. There are a lot of reasons we did not do a better job of prepping people who already have high end GPUs, legal, financial, competitive, and otherwise, but to be perfectly honest, our biggest failing was assuming we had been clear enough about setting expectations. Another problem is that people looked at the much less advanced technology in DK2 for $350 and assumed the consumer Rift would cost a similar amount, an assumption that myself (and Oculus) did not do a good job of fixing. I apologize."
Im sure the higher than expected price will have a major negative impact on early adoption rates of the Rift but I don't think it will stop the VR train from rolling on. We must remember this is first generation custom hardware and prices will drop in future versions. However I do fear that the high price may see the the CV1 Rift remain the playground of developers, hardcore tech nerds and VR enthusiasts.
I for one will not be cancelling my pre-order and can't wait to get my hands on CV1. Pre-orders are still open and if want to be in on the ground floor for the birth of VR head on over to shop.oculus.com and get your order in.