The jury is out on VR

It’s been three and a half years since the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset was first announced – now it finally has a price and release date.

The device has received a ton of publicity in that time, with prototype developer kits wowing users and consumers backing its initial Kickstarter campaign in their droves. But with just over a month until it officially launches, we’re still not certain how it will sell – and it’s a shame to see the channel being left in the dark.

Oculus (owned by Facebook) has told me that its £499 headset will initially be sold direct from its website, and while it ‘plans to ultimately sell into the channel’, it’s not saying exactly when it will work with UK distribution or retail.

“The Oculus Rift will give system builders and indies the opportunity to sell new gaming PCs.”

A while ago, I wrote an opinion piece questioning the margin opportunities in VR for smaller PC dealers. Of course, it’s likely the Rift will end up being sold in strong numbers through Amazon and the like, with little margin.

However, since then it’s become clear the headset will require a decent PC to run (with at least a GTX 970/AMD 290, Intel i5-4590 and 8GB+ RAM), giving system builders and indies the opportunity to sell new gaming PCs. NVIDIA introduced its ‘VR Ready’ stamp of approval and SIs already have their own VR-ready machines and initiatives underway; Dell is even bundling the Rift with some of its Alienware systems.

We asked retailers for their thoughts on the Oculus Rift’s price and if they will be stocking it in the latest edition of PCR – which you can view here. We also have a full rundown of announcements from CES 2016, and you can also see our pick of the latest PC products from the Vegas show, including SanDisk’s super-thin SSD, Lenovo’s Thinkcentre X1 all-in-one and HP’s Envy Phoenix gaming PC. The latter is also built for virtual reality, but for HTC’s upcoming Vive headset in particular, which may give the Oculus Rift a run for its money.

One more thing – check out PCR Boot Camp’s new venue in PCR’s February issue too.

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