Another day, another entry into the file of troubled Kickstarter successes. The Oculus Rift, a virtual reality gaming headset which raised millions of dollars on the site earlier this year, has been delayed from December until at least March 2013, and possibly through April.
After the Rift’s coming out party at this year’s E3 (where our fearless leader Stephen Totilo tried out the “impressive” headgear on the then-unnamed Doom 3: BFG Edition), Oculus founder Palmer Luckey took to everyone’s favourite crowd funding site to ask for a cool $US250,000. Finding himself in that heady time of explosive gaming Kickstarters, Luckey suddenly had just under $US2.5 million dropped in his lap and a BFG-load of dev kits to ship out, supposedly by December 2012.
Today the official Oculus Rift Kickstarter was updated with news that shipment of said kits has been delayed at least until next spring, as Luckey and his team deal with the “overwhelming response” – some 7500 unit requests.
Compounding the problem, the original 5.6-inch LCD screens the Rift prototypes used are no longer available, forcing a switch to a new 7-inch LCD that brings with it a new form factor. While this will obviously enhance the viewing experience, it also adds 30 grams of weight to the headset, not an insignificant amount considering you’ll be strapping it onto your face for several hours at a time.
While the causes of the delay seem reasonable — Oculus has put together a detailed timeline illustrating it here – this latest development further illustrates the Monkey’s Paw potential of unbounded fundraising and micro-donations. After all, it’s much easier to pay for the experience of playing Doom 3 in a fully immersive 3D world than it is to create it. Considering that these issues are arising at the dev stage, questions about Oculus Rift’s transition to mass-market commercial sale are sure to arise.