Pre-orders for the Oculus Rift are now open.
According to the official Oculus VR blog, the new technology will begin shipping to 20 different countries on March 28th. Already copies available for that date are sold out, with the Oculus site estimating a May 2016 shipping date even with limiting one per customer. Until then, pre-orders for the Oculus Rift will be available online on Oculus.com for $599- the cost of a high end computer monitor.
Including the Oculus Rift itself, which already comes with a built in headset and microphone, consumers will also receive an Xbox One controller and the Oculus remote. The controller is a companion piece for playing any games on the Oculus Rift, while the remote is a new input device "designed to make it simple and intuitive to navigate VR experiences." The remote helps consumers browse content, such as the Oculus store and Oculus video.
Those who also pre-order will be reserved a spot to pre-order the Oculus Touch later in the year. Other pre-order bonuses include a founders pack for the game EVE: Valkyrie. Another game, Lucky's Tale, will be included for free with every headset purchased. Oculus boasts that by the end of 2016, over 100 games will be playable with the headset, including Minecraft, Rock Band VR, and The Climb.
The PC specs for the Oculus Rift are hefty though. For the best results, Oculus recommends a NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD R9 290 equivalent graphics card or higher and 8GB+ RAM of memory. The recommended processors are an Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater as well. Thankfully, Oculus provides a compatibility tool for the PC-impaired to double check their system specs. For those who would rather purchase a "Oculus ready PC," that option will be available for pre-order in February for the price of $1499 and will, of course, come with an Oculus Rift as well.
In a nice gesture, yesterday the Oculus Rift team also revealed that all of the kickstarter backers who backed to received a devkit of the Oculus Rift will also receive a copy of the consumer version. Additionally all the kickstarter ones will also get the pre-order bonus for EVE: Valkyrie.
The Oculus VR team is selling the Oculus Rift at low cost, and will be eating up the difference and taking a loss for the new technology. It will be a loss-leader for them and will likely be hoping to make money back over time with software licenses.https://twitter.com/PalmerLuckey/status/684511706677030912
The headset, which has been heavily covered by tech and gaming media since 2012, first began as a kickstarter campaign that would raise close to $2.5 million with 9,522 backers. Since then, the Oculus VR team has grown to include several veterans of the tech and gaming industry, including Doom-creator John Carmack, and scientist and technical writer Michael Abrash.
For me, the price and the experience with Oculus Rift presented is tough to justify, but that is mostly due to not having a strong enough PC to run the headset. That being said, this is new technology that is in its early adoption stage; the price is going to be high out of the gate, but balking at it for that price is not necessarily a fair shake in the end. Truthfully, $600 is much more reasonable than what I figured it would be, considering Oculus VR will be taking a loss for a while.
So long as people purchasing the Oculus Rift realize that the headset is new tech, and is therefore an investment on a new platform, perhaps then the headset will be successful in the long run. Either way, the Oculus Rift is a huge gamble for everyone involved; the question now is do you want to take that bet?