Oculus Rift pre-orders are live, revealing the anticipated virtual reality headset will cost £499 ($730), plus a £30 shipping cost, and will be shipped to customers sometime in April. The Rift is one of three major, self-contained headsets being released in 2016, alongside the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR.
The makers behind all three headsets have been coy about pricing until now, with the Rift being the first to show its hand. The cost has shocked many into thinking this signifies the death of VR – which has repeatedly wowed people who have used it in previews.
Pre-orders are now being taken for the Rift, which includes a headset, sensor, Oculus remote, cables, an Xbox One controller and two games in the form of EVE Valkyrie and Lucky's Tale. In the US, the device costs $599. All this, before you consider the high-end PC needed to run the headset.
In May, Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe said the cost of purchasing a headset and an entirely new PC capable of running it would be around $1,500.
While the price is leading many to assume virtual reality is dead on arrival, this is simply how the tech industry works. As has been pointed out online, first generation Blu-ray players cost around $1,000, while the first Ultra HD television sets were extremely pricey and the preserve of only the most dedicated early adopters.
It has also been pointed out that $599.99 was the original price point for Sony's PlayStation 3. The company was ridiculed for that but the device (which is not directly comparable) dropped its price over time and went on to sell over 80 million units. VR is far from dead.
What this could mean, though, is a pricing war, particularly between the Oculus and HTC Vive, which will directly compete as PC-enabled headsets. Sony's PS VR will only work with PlayStation 4 consoles but may still be able to occupy a middle ground between these top-end VR headsets and devices such as the Samsung Gear VR, which use phones as their screen to reduce cost.