Facebook Shutters 200 Best Buy Oculus Rift VR Demo Stations Due To Limited Interest

Consumers at large do not seem to be ready to embrace the concept of virtual reality, at least not at today's asking price—a high-end headset costs $599 to $799, plus there is the cost of a PC with sufficient hardware to support VR experiences. Due to low sales of Oculus Rift in Best Buy, Facebook has decided to close 200 of its 500 VR demo stations at Best Buy locations across the United States.

Facebook acquired Oculus three years ago for $2 billion, or closer to $3 billion if you factor in the cost to retain employees and bonuses for reaching certain milestones. Either way you slice it, Facebook is heavily invested in Oculus and the VR category as a whole. When development on the first generation Rift was finally complete and ready for consumers, Facebook partnered with Best Buy to sell the headset at some of its locations. Facebook also setup demo stations so that consumers could see what all the fuss over VR was about.

Oculus Rift

An internal memo says the closing of 200 demo stations is due to "store performance," though Oculus is reluctant to admit as much publicly. According to Oculus, "seasonal changes" are to blame.

"We’re making some seasonal changes and prioritizing demos at hundreds of Best Buy locations in larger markets," an Oculus spokeswoman told Business Insider. "You can still request Rift demos at hundreds of Best Buy stores in the U.S. and Canada. We still believe the best way to learn about VR is through a live demo."

The spokeswoman also said that Oculus will look for "opportunities to do regular events and pop ups in retail locations and local communities throughout the year."

When Oculus first partnered with Best Buy, just 48 retail locations carried the Rift. That was later expanded to 500 retail locations just a few months later. Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly seemed excited about the opportunity, saying that it would be "really cool and fun" for its customers. He was also optimistic about VR in generation.

"Virtual reality has the potential to contribute to our growth," Joly said at the time.

Best Buy locations that no longer offer consumers live demos will continue to sell the Rift, along with accompanying touch controllers, the latter of which cost $200. Closing demo stations isn't going to help things, but it's not like Rift headsets were flying off of store shelves at Best Buy anyway. Oculus representatives who put on the demos said they only sold a few headsets per week during the holiday season, and that the number of visitors slowed drastically after Christmas.