Yesterday (6 January) pre-orders opened for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, revealing for the first time its price. UK customers will pay £499 ($599 in the US) before shipping, which caused an uproar online from those who expected the first wave of these new VR headsets to be more affordable.
Just hours after the pre-orders went live, Oculus's affable co-founder Palmer Luckey held a Q&A on Reddit, and he didn't shy away from the tough questions sent his way. "To be perfectly clear, we don't make money on the Rift," he said bluntly, before also apologising for comments in which he gave a rough $350 ballpark figure for the headset.
"I made the infamous 'roughly in that $350 ballpark, but it will cost more than that' quote. 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.
"Later on, I tried to get across that the Rift would cost more than many expected, in the past two weeks particularly. There are a lot of reasons we did not do a better job of preparing people who already have high-end GPUs – legal, financial, competitive, and otherwise – but to be perfectly honest, our biggest failing was assuming we had been clear enough about setting expectations.
"Another problem is that people looked at the much less advanced technology in DK2 [Developer Kit 2] for $350 and assumed the consumer Rift would cost a similar amount, an assumption that myself (and Oculus) did not do a good job of fixing. I apologise."
He offered shorter answers to a slew of questions following his lengthy first response. He stated that he had learned his lesson when it came to ballpark figures and reiterated that there will be "at least" 100 Rift-compatible games by the end of the year including "over 20 Oculus Studios titles".
The Oculus Rift will start shipping in April.