One of the biggest talking points at CES was the news that Facebook-owned virtual reality pioneer Oculus would start shipping its highly- anticipated Rift headset for $599/£499 on March 28th.
For that price the buyer receives the headset, an accompanying sensor, a remote, cables, Xbox controller and two games – platformer Lucky’s Tale and combat flight sim Eve: Valkyrie (with the promise of lots more software support by the end of the year).
The reveal came with an element of controversy, however, namely that the price is considerably more than the $350 Oculus founder Palmer Lucky had previously alluded to.
Combined with the fact the Rift requires some serious PC hardware support (Nvidia GTX 970 / AMD R9 290 or greater, Intel i5-4590 or greater, etc), social media lit up with some fairly disgruntled opinions from consumers.
So the question is: Can the Oculus Rift become mainstream in 2016? Here’s what the UK channel has to say:
CK, MD, Yoyotech
”We think [Oculus Rift] is priced correctly – it is a lot of technology at an affordable price and will take the PC gaming segment to another level. Yoyotech is looking forward to stocking and creating special PC SKUs to enhance the VR experience.”
GAVIN HOLDER, Director, GHI Computers
”I’m pretty certain that most independent retailers would love to stock the Oculus Rift. However, many won’t be able to for many reasons; stock will be allocated to the nationals only; the profit margin will be disproportionate to the retail price; and price support will be given to the nationals. But this product needs independents on board to help gain traction in the market – we will be the ones with the passion for the product and will ultimately be the ambassador for it.”
VLADIMIR KUZNETSOV, CEO, Dino PC
”The price is a lot more than I would have expected, but I’m a firm believer that virtual reality is here to stay and will grow massively over next few years, unlike 3D screens, which were just a gimmick. [However], we don’t have any plans to stock VR headsets, as I can’t imagine they will be available for everyone to sell this year, only select large retailers.”
BEN MILES, Sales Director, Chillblast.com
”The price is higher than we originally expected, however the final specification is also higher than the development kits. Overall, I think the price is fair, given the level of user experience and hardware on offer. People don’t baulk at paying a similar price for a high-quality 27-inch QHD monitor, which most people with a PC capable of running VR will already have. We will be stocking it.”
CHRIS INNES, MD, MicroPlus
“We’ve had an Oculus Rift DK2 set up in our showroom for about a year now on a high spec gaming PC and it’s fair to say that people are completely wowed when they try it. However, I think its long- term sales potential will depend on the quality of the games, not just the novelty of the immersive experience. We will certainly try to get some pre- orders in place and there should be some good PC upgrade opportunities to meet the recommended specifications.”
CRAIG HUME, Director, Utopia Computers
”While the price tag is more than was originally projected, it is an incredible amount of technology for the money. We have placed our pre-orders, but the units we have will be for demo and research purposes. I would suggest retailers look at the surrounding eco-system of PC upgrades and accessories for revenue streams.”
Find out what retailers think about the possible launch of ‘VR arcades’ in the UK here.