It’s no surprise that the Oculus Rift virtual reality kit is an exciting product for a number of reasons; not just in the developer community, but in the broader community of video game consumers as well. Companies like Sony Online Entertainment are proudly announcing Oculus Rift support for upcoming MMOs, while others are busy remaking classic video games for a Rift experience.
Even so, it’s worth keeping in mind that for all the headlines and development centering on the Oculus Rift, the device has yet to hit mainstream availability (the only version available for purchase as of this writing is the developer kit). Given that enthusiasm ahead of launch, it should come as no surprise that according to the manufacturers, certain components of the Oculus Rift developer kit are experiencing shortages in inventory. The only solution is to suspend sales in multiple regions.
Oculus VR community manager Andres Hernandez announced the shortages on the company’s sub-Reddit, explaining that “certain components used in the Oculus Rift developer kit are no longer being manufactured, meaning they are no longer available to us for production.” As inventory dries out in regions where the Oculus Rift is sold, Oculus VR plans to suspend sales there until it has the means to deliver new orders.
Hernandez cites the overall sales numbers at over 50,000 Oculus Rift developer kits, which while an impressive sales figure, means the components used to construct them have run out faster than the company anticipated:
“We are looking into alternate sources for the needed components, and we don’t yet have a timeline for when additional units will be available. We’ll be sure to keep everyone posted.
“We never expected to sell so many development kits and VR only made this much progress with the community’s support and enthusiasm. Even though we never wanted to sell out, it’s a good problem to have — Thank you!”
Budding developers don’t need to panic just yet, as the company explained that they are still shipping units to the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, EU countries and more. So while the day may come when North American or European gamers won’t be able to find a developer kit to make a VR adventure of their own, it seems supplies will be on hand for the immediate future.
While it’s not exactly surprising to see that Oculus VR has sold plenty of developer kits, it must be thanking its lucky stars that this scenario isn’t playing out with the consumer model. Oculus VR already secured quite a bit of funding in order to make the consumer version of the Oculus Rift a reality, and with the $2.4 million it raised through Kickstarter, there is clearly a demand for the virtual reality headset. If this kind of manufacturing shortage were to happen with the consumer version, there would be plenty of questions raised about whether the company could keep up with demand.
In this age of social media outrage and online petitions, the last thing any budding gaming brand need is to upset not only fans hungry for a product they can’t find, but developers themselves, the lifeblood of any gaming product. Oculus VR has offered admirable transparency concerning what could presumably be a serious issue going forward, but there’s no telling how long a solution may take.
In other words, it may be a blessing in disguise that the component shortages are playing out with the developer kit, before the product goes on sale to the general public. And from what we’ve seen so far, developers and modders will put the extra time to good use in crafting some curious experiences tailor-made for the platform.