As expected, the official price point for Oculus Rift – revealed yesterday to be $599 – sparked controversy among the budding VR community, with some decrying that the asking price for the head-mounted device was far higher than originally promised.
Speaking candidly via a Reddit AMA earlier today, Oculus head honcho Palmer Luckey conceded that he “handled the messaging poorly,” in the build up to the unveiling, once claiming that the Rift would retail “in the ballpark” of $350. But that’s without factoring in a high-spec gaming PC to run the VR hardware, with the true entry point for newcomers exceeding $1500.
“As an explanation, not an excuse: 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.”
Continuing in his reflection, Luckey admitted that for Oculus, the “biggest failing was assuming we had been clear enough about setting expectations,” rather than marketing the Rift as a premium product. For the sake of perspective, he noted that $599 is a marked set up from the cost of development kits due to the improved design and ergonomics that ensure maximum comfort while immersed in virtual reality.
Stack all of these extenuating factors together and you have a new piece of hardware that isn’t likely to receive a price cut anytime soon. As Luckey noted, due to costs with manufacturing, a lower price point is “very unlikely for the first generation of Rift.”
Pre-orders are now open for the Oculus Rift via the company’s website. The $599 bundle includes an Xbox One controller, sensor, Oculus remote, the headset itself and two free games in EVE: Valkyrie and Lucky’s Tale.