Regardless of the fact that the Oculus Rift pre-orders sold out in just 14 minutes, a number of people have pointed out that the VR headset’s price tag is much higher than what Oculus founder Palmer Lucky said it would be.
The price and availability of the Rift was announced on Wednesday 6th January. In the UK, it will set you back £499 and it costs gamers $599 in the US.
Despite the fact that this price covers the headset, a sensor, a remote, cables, Xbox controller and two games, many have taken to Twitter to express their disappointment, with some saying the price has made them changed their mind about getting one.
I was so ready to order an @oculus_rift - until it was twice the price of a PS4 and still required an expensive PC to run. VR dream crushed.— Craig Corlis (@CraigCorlis) January 6, 2016
Welp, so much for the Oculus Rift. $600 is straight up hilarious. How do you expect to make VR mainstream with that price barrier?— Eric Smith (@F4Felgon) January 6, 2016
$600 for Oculus Rift :( no thanks— Carlo (@carlokristoffe) January 7, 2016
Green Man Gaming even ran a poll in one tweet, which resulted in 83 per cent saying they wouldn’t buy one for that price.
So the #OculusRift is $599 / £499 then. Will you be buying into a VR-tastic future at that price?— Green Man Gaming (@GreenManGaming) January 6, 2016
Luckey also took to Twitter that day to try to squash claims that Oculus was making lots off money out of the piece of kit, calling the headset ‘obscenely cheap’.
To reiterate, we are not making money on Rift hardware. High end VR is expensive, but Rift is obscenely cheap for what it is.— Palmer Luckey (@PalmerLuckey) January 6, 2016
So, why are some gamers so angry about the price of the Rift? Well, one particularly sore point is the fact that it’s been reported numerous times that Luckey said the headset would cost ‘around $350’, almost half the price as what it ended up being.
The day after the price reveal, Luckey bravely took part in a Reddit AMA (ask me anything) session, and sure enough, the subject of the device's price came up. In one post, Luckey goes into detail about how he ended up blurting out the ‘$350’ comment and admitted that he ‘handled the messaging poorly’.
Here’s an extract from Luckey’s answer to the AMA question: “The price is what it is, I understand bleeding edge electronics is expensive. My question is "why was the messaging about price so poor?” $599 is not in the ballpark of $350 when your target audience is the mainstream.”
“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 prioritising 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.”