Oculus Rift pre-orders are now available, revealing the delivery of initial shipments in March and a $599 starting price – a price that’s already brewing controversy.
As previously announced, pre-orders for the Oculus Rift VR headset have gone live as of 8:00am Pacific Time. Coinciding with pre-orders opening up were several previously unrevealed details regarding the Oculus Rift, including: price, release window, and bundled devices. The official price alone stunned prospective pre-orderers, with the Rift to cost $599 USD and an additional $30 USD in shipping on top of that. The first wave of shipped headsets will go out in March.
As online pre-orders tend to be, the launch was not an altogether smooth process. At 8:00am when the store was meant to go live, most buyers were met with a blank white screen. While reports came through that some buyers were able to work through the system, perhaps implying a queue pulling in random refreshers, most were stuck on the outside waiting to get in. Within a half hour and with the site still unreliable, the initial stock of Oculus Rifts for March were said to be sold out and new shipping dates for pre-orders were targeted for April.
Included with the Oculus Rift headset on launch will be a handful of supplementary devices which Oculus believes are requisite for the true VR experience:
- Headset w/ Detachable Headphones and a Mic
- Xbox One Controller
- Oculus Remote
- EVE: Valkyrie and Lucky’s Tale Software
That last addition is a bit of a surprise, as it’d been believed that the in-development Oculus remote had been canceled. The new Oculus Remote will offer basic navigation tools for Rift users performing less complex tasks than what might require the Xbox controller or mouse and keyboard.
Perhaps the larger story is less the launch of pre-orders and the price itself, than the controversy over it. To say $599 is above what the average consumer was hoping to pay for the Oculus Rift would be an understatement. After all, there are quotes from Oculus founder Palmer Luckey (which he’s later corrected) stating they were targeting a ballpark of $350. Even more recent valuations had trouble seeing a price above $500, though the most recent of evidence goes contrary to that.
Just over the past few days, the week prior to CES 2016, Palmer Luckey has gone on social media to help establish more realistic expectations regarding the Rift and its pricing. He mentioned that if Oculus was aiming to pay for the cost of materials and make a small profit on the headset, it would have to cost near $1000. He implied that perhaps the Rift might not sell out of its initial supply for March. And said multiple times that a PC and Rift package would cost at least $1500.
The largest, though perhaps indirect, reason to believe the Rift would be so expensive was yesterday’s announcement that Oculus would be giving each of its initial Kickstarter backers a free launch Rift. These are Oculus’ most dedicated supporters, most of whom are developers which could create future VR content. Oculus wants their support going into the future. So it says a lot that Oculus felt the need to give them free Rifts, rather than remaining confident that they’d support the consumer edition of the Rift. If that’s not a statement regarding the headset’s price, then nothing is.
The Oculus Rift VR headset is available for pre-order now through the official Oculus website. It will cost $599 and an additional $30 in shipping for those within the US. Pre-orders for a March or April ship date are already sold out, with May shipping likely to pass very quickly.