Palmer Luckey, creator of the Oculus Rift, shared his thoughts and responded to confusion over the VR machine’s final price during a Reddit AMA yesterday.
“I handled the messaging poorly,” Luckey wrote. “In a September interview, during the Oculus Connect developer conference, I made the infamous “roughly in that $350 ballpark, but it will cost more than that” quote.”
Because the Developer Kit 2 model of the Oculus Rift cost $350, the popular assumption was that the final model’s price would be in the same range. Yesterday when the Oculus Rift became available for pre-sale, the final price of $599 was revealed.
“There are a lot of reasons we did not do a better job of prepping 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,” Luckey explained. “Another problem is that people looked at the much less advanced technology in DK2 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 apologize.”
In an interview with Ben Kuchera of Polygon yesterday, Luckey told Kuchera that the final model of the Oculus Rift is the result of a decision “to optimize quality over cost.”
Despite the $599 price tag, it seems like Oculus is just aiming to break even.
“To be perfectly clear, we don’t make money on the Rift,” Luckey wrote on Reddit. “The core technology in the Rift is the main driver – two built-for-VR OLED displays with very high refresh rate and pixel density, a very precise tracking system, mechanical adjustment systems that must be lightweight, durable, and precise, and cutting-edge optics that are more complex to manufacture than many high end DSLR lenses.”
Bundled items like the Xbox One controller, and bundled games like Lucky’s Tale and EVE: Valkyrie, reportedly don’t add significantly to the final price of the headset.
“A lot of people wish we would sell a bundle without “useless extras” like high-end audio, a carrying case, the bundled games, etc, but those just don’t significantly impact the cost,” Luckey explained.
The real price of the Oculus Rift will likely come in the high-end computer that will be necessary to play games on it, but Luckey says that in the long term, VR is not about playing video games.
“The majority of time spent right in Gear VR is video and experiences, not games,” he continued. “Over time, VR span beyond games, much like the evolution of computer and mobile platforms before it.”