Sponsored By

Oculus CEO offers pricing explanation and apologizes for 'poor messaging'

After finally telling the world how much the Oculus Rift will cost when it ships in April, company founder Palmer Luckey quickly turned his attention towards Reddit to tackle your burning questions.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

January 7, 2016

5 Min Read

After finally telling the world how much the Oculus Rift will cost, company founder Palmer Luckey quickly turned his attention towards Reddit to tackle your burning questions during a candid "ask me anything" session

As he chewed the fat with fellow redditors, Luckey touched upon everything from the Rift's $599 price point to its lifespan and the number of games we can expect to see on the platform by the year's end.

If you're familiar with Reddit AMAs, you'll know trawling through them can sap the life from your very soul. So, to make it easier for you to hone in on the comments that matter, we've taken the liberty of seperating the wheat from the chaff.

The price is right

As you'd expect, one of the first questions fired at Luckey concerned the Oculus' controversial price point, and specifically asked why the messaging about pricing had been so poor. 

For context, Luckey had previously stated that, while the Rift would cost more than $350, it would still be in that "ballpark"

"I handled the messaging poorly," wrote Luckey, explaining that when Oculus told people that buying a Rift and a compatible PC would cost around $1500, the figures were taken out of context, prompting a response. 

"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 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.

"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."

No expense spared

Luckey went on to suggest that the $350 DK2 actually made matters worse, because the company had already committed to the "path of prioritizing quality over cost" even though people would expect the consumer version to retail for a similar price.

"People looked at the much less advanced technology in DK2 for $350 and assumed the consumer Rift would cost a similar amount," said Luckey.

"[It was] an assumption that myself (and Oculus) did not do a good job of fixing. I apologize."

In putting the technology first, Luckey also revealed that Oculus won't be making any money back on the Rift - although that won't necessarily be in issue with a backer the size of Facebook

"To be perfectly clear, we don’t make money on the Rift. A lot of people wish we would sell a bundle without 'useless extras' like high-end audio, a carrying case, the bundled games, etc, but those just don’t significantly impact the cost," continued Luckey.

"The core technology in the Rift is the main driver -- two built-for-VR OLED displays with very high refresh rate and pixel density, a very precise tracking system, mechanical adjustment systems that must be lightweight, durable, and precise, and cutting-edge optics that are more complex to manufacture than many high end DSLR lenses. 

"It is expensive, but for the $599 you spend, you get a lot more than spending $599 on pretty much any other consumer electronics devices.

"There are a lot of mainstream devices in that price-range. Our failing was in communication, not just price."

Nothing lasts forever

With most people still hung up on the price, it's easy to forget that anyone who does take the plunge won't be getting their hands on a Rift until April.

How long though, will that first consumer version last? According to Luckey, the lifespan of the first generation will be "somewhere between a console and a mobile phone, [probably] much closer to a mobile phone. The PC spec for Rift won't change during the 1st generation."

After the first generation begins to show its age, it'll be replaced by a younger, shiner model, packed with a number of features that Luckey believes weren't feasible this time around.

"Quite a few features [were left out]. We have a lot going on in Oculus Research, some of which will make it into the next product, some of which will go into products even further down the road," continues Luckey. 

"VR is still advancing very rapidly, there will be some pretty huge technological shifts happening."

Game on

As for the games themselves, a pre-ordered headset currently comes bundled with two titles -- VR platformer Lucky's Tale, and CCP's EVE: Valkyrie -- yet, according to Luckey, they're just the first of many. 

Indeed, those of you willing to splash the cash and pick up a Rift from the get-go can expect to find "at least 100" games on the platform by the end of the year, 20 of which will first-party titles developed by Oculus Studios.

Those releases, says Luckey, "will be a range of prices from free to higher priced AAA games," the latter of which will be priced "similar to what you see in console and PC games."

As for the price of the delayed Touch controller, which is now expected to launch in the second half of 2016, Luckey refused to speculate.  

"No more ballparks for now," wrote the Oculus founder. "I have learned my lesson."

Read more about:


About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

Daily news, dev blogs, and stories from Game Developer straight to your inbox

You May Also Like