Yesterday’s news that the Oculus Rift would be launching with a $599 sticker price left many fans of the VR headset in shock. Despite its creator’s assurances that the price was “obscenely cheap”, many potential customers had simply expected a much lower price, due mainly to the company’s previous announcements. Now in an AMA, Palmer Luckey explained why the new device is so much more expensive than anticipated and apologized for not setting expectations better.
The young CEO and founder of Oculus said he was sorry for handling his company’s messaging poorly. This is in regard to a previous comment he had made, where he mentioned the upcoming Oculus Rift VR headset would be priced in the $350 ballpark. That original statement now seems quite misleading, but Luckey explained he was simply countering untrue claims that were made by the media, according to which the Rift was going to cost $1500, a price that in reality also included an entire gaming PC.
But that wasn’t the only confusing of Oculus’ messaging. Indeed, the company’s own development kits have consistently been priced around the $350 mark, for years now. It’s little wonder that enthusiasts had assumed similar pricing for the final product. And Luckey admits to contributing to those unrealistic expectations and explained that, after being purchased by Facebook, they were allowed to scale up and use better, custom-built components that drove up both the quality of the Rift and its eventual launch price.
As for those hoping the device will come down in price quickly after launch, there seems to be bad news on that front also. Luckey expoused the virtues of a non-fragmented market for developers, who are allowed to code once with the knowledge that their software will run the same on all existing hardware. Launching lower-end versions of the Rift would create fragmentation in a nascent field and it’s essentially against everyone’s interests.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be sales or discounts on the existing Rift, so users may still get one for a decent price in the upcoming months. And if that’s not good enough, a lot of competition is about to burst into the scene in just a few weeks.