While the Oculus Rift headset is certainly one of the more exciting advancements in video game technology, it’s also a very big risk. The idea of a 3D, virtual reality headset is a tough sell for the casual gamer, and one that only truly reveals its value after trying the Oculus out. But beyond all of that, the Oculus Rift’s potential success is wholly dependent on price.
Price can mean several different things, most obviously the price of the Oculus Rift headset itself. But it can also mean the price of games, which, as we have now learned, may be more than the current $60 average.
According to Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe, there is a genuine possibility that games that use the Oculus Rift will retail for more than the average game. He doesn’t cite specific examples, but Iribe says he has seen a few games that he personally would pay “a lot to get that experience in virtual reality.”
Moreover, Iribe believes that the new VR revolution could be the catalyst for pricing changes within the video game market. In his mind, VR is the “next generation of computing,” and therefore it could come at a new premium. Not all games, mind you – some could come in at relatively cheap price points – but the possibility of $70+ games is certainly there in Iribe’s mind.
He isn’t set in that idea, though; in fact, Iribe thinks that the free-to-play business model is another viable route for VR-based experiences. That way, developers can first show gamers the value of their product before asking them to pay.
“The whole concept of charging a premium is somewhat outdated. It’s not to say it’s going to be upfront. It could be this is going to be an experience you get dialed into. We’ll see how it monetizes. … If you create content or an experience that someone is passionate about, you’re creating a lifestyle for them. And they’ll pay for that.”
Of course, Iribe is speaking hypothetically, a sentiment he stressed heavily in his interview with GI.biz. The Oculus has yet to hit the retail market, so there’s no way of knowing what publishers might charge for games. For that matter, we still don’t know how much the Oculus Rift or any competing VR headset might retail for.
Just this past week, the Oculus team showed off their latest prototype, the Crystal Cove, which boasts a new motion tracking add-on and a high resolution OLED display. Both new features have likely bumped up the inevitable retail price for the Oculus, but by how much is unclear. Iribe wouldn’t even commit to the presumed 2014 release date for the Oculus Rift, so talk of pricing for the peripheral, let alone games, is a little premature.
Virtual reality is certainly a gaming trend we expect to see grow over the next year, with Oculus leading the charge. But, it could also lead the charge in another way by breaking the $60 wall for games and potentially setting a new precedent for pricing.
Would you pay more than $60 for a VR-based game? How do you think developers of these types of experiences should approach pricing?