Palmer Luckey has had a busy day on social media. The Oculus CEO started prepping the ground for the aftermath of opening the Rift up to pre-orders yesterday, and he’s spent the majority of today fielding queries left, right and centre.
Most of the popular questions are about cost. Luckey’s talked about that several times already, but what’s slightly more interesting is the follow-up: if you knew the consumer Rift was going to be this expensive, why not release the Rift DK2 to the public?
According to Luckey, who’s been busy answering questions on Reddit in an Ask me Anything session, the second revision of the Rift development kit simply wasn’t good enough to be the catalyst that virtual reality needed.
“It would also cost more than people think – Shipping a real consumer product is more complex than janking out a dev kit, even something nearly identical to DK2 would have ended up costing US$400+, and the all-in investment including a PC would still be around US$1300, not enough to make the jump from enthusiast to mainstream.”
Luckey also indicated that Oculus’s expected to be selling the consumer version of the Rift for “close to [US$599]” back in September. “In a September interview, during the Oculus Connect developer conference, I made the infamous ‘roughly in that US$350 ballpark, but it will cost more than that’ quote,” the CEO explained.
“As an explanation, not an excuse: during that time, many outlets were repeating the “Rift is US$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 US$349 with US$1500, not our internal estimate that hovered close to $599 – that is why I said it was in roughly the same ballpark.”
Luckey went on to apologise for the poor messaging around the Rift, particularly for those who were left with expectations that the consumer version of the Rift would cost similar to the less advanced DK2 model. He also refused not to provide an estimate for how much the Touch controllers, given recent lessons.
Other noteworthy tidbits include that the PC specifications will remain unchanged for the first generation of the Rift, potentially meaning that the next-gen release of the tech could require just as hefty an upgrade as some users were preparing for already. Oculus will also continue working with component manufacturers to optimise technology for VR to “reduce the required hardware cost”.
“For the average person, the PC is by far the biggest cost … the end goal is to make sure people can use the PC they already have in most cases,” Luckey noted.