It seems hard to fathom, but it has been nearly a year since Oculus started shipping finalized Rift headsets to the public. The Oculus Rift debuted at $599, a bit more than consumers were expecting, and it did not help matters that Oculus ran into some delays due to component shortages. Nevertheless, it marked the beginning stage of getting VR gaming into the mainstream. Now a year later, a price cut makes the cost of entry a bit more palatable. More on that in a moment.
The headset was not the only thing that got delayed. Oculus originally intended to launch motion sensitive Touch controllers in the first quarter of 2016, but instead they arrived in December of last year. Priced at a $199 for a set of two, the Touch controllers brought the total cost of a complete Oculus Rift package to right at around $800. And of course there is the cost of a well-equipped PC that is powerful enough to handle VR gaming.
If you've been wanting to get a Rift but patiently sat out the first year of its availability, your reward is a price reduction. Oculus on Wednesday announced that effective immediately the price for a Rift with bundled Touch controllers is $598. That is a $200 reduction compared to what early adopters paid. And if you already own a Rift headset, adding Touch controllers now costs $99 instead of $199. An additional Oculus Sensor costs $59.
"Today’s new, lower price of Rift and Touch doubles down on a year of dropping PC and graphics card prices. It’s costs 30 percent less for someone to walk into a store and outfit a complete high end PC VR experience, including desktop PC, Rift, and Touch, than it did just a year ago when we launched Rift. We believe this lower entry price will attract consumers to PC VR at a faster pace," said Jason Rubin, Oculus VP of Content.
The new lower price undercuts HTC and its Vive bundle, which costs $799 for the headset and controllers. We suspect it is only a matter of time before HTC follows suit, but for now, the pricing advantage for a full VR experience (headset and motion controllers) belongs to Oculus.
Looking at the bigger picture, reducing the cost of entry will only help propel VR forward. When new technology comes about, there is always a standoff between hardware makers and software developers. The Rubin see things, the price cut is good for everyone, but especially for developers.
"A larger userbase means higher potential sales, easier player matching, better communities, and results in the ability to invest more in titles. This increased investment means better software which in turn brings more consumers. This virtuous cycle is the fuel that can launch PC VR," Rubin added.
What do you think, does this price cut make you more likely to consider buying into VR, or is it still too expensive?