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Consumer Oculus Rift headset may not be available this year, Oculus VR founder implies

Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus VR, once said that the consumer version of Oculus Rift would be available in 2015 unless something goes “horribly wrong.” While nothing seems to be going wrong, he does not look like he is sure about availability of the device this year.

The commercial version of Oculus Rift is without any doubts the most anticipated virtual reality (VR) headset among those already announced. Many game developers are designing new titles specifically for the device and many gamers plan to buy it once the company starts to sell the finished product. Unfortunately, virtual reality in general is a work in progress, which means that things change on the fly and very quickly.

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When asked to confirm the plan to launch a consumer VR headset this year, the founder of Oculus VR did not explicitly did it. He said that nothing went “horribly wrong” with the project, but he also revealed that the company had changed its roadmap and had ramped up target quality level for the product.

“I did say that, before we made a lot of changes to our roadmap, including ramping up the target quality level of the consumer device and partnering with Facebook,” said Palmer Luckey at his company’s panel at South by Southwest, reports Recode.net. “I cannot comment on the date one way or the other, but I can say nothing is going horribly wrong. Everything is going horribly right.”

Earlier this month Sony said that it will release its project Morpheus, another highly-anticipated virtual reality headset, only in the first half of 2016. The company said that its top priority was to ensure the best possible VR experience using the currently available technologies, whereas price and availability timeframe were not that important. Apparently, Oculus VR shares a similar vision.

“With the Rift, our team wants to launch this as soon as we possibly can, but with no compromises,” said Nate Mitchell, vice president of products at Oculus VR.

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There is a perfect rationale behind making the best possible first-generation VR gear. Both Oculus VR and Sony need to ensure that their virtual reality headsets provide the best possible experience so to attract maximum amount of gamers to their VR platforms. More gamers mean higher revenue for game developers. Successful sales of VR games will bring additional investments, which will result in better virtual reality games eventually.

A big challenge for Oculus VR, Sony and other is the lack of VR titles on the market. If there are no good titles, gamers will not buy the hardware no matter how good it is. The virtual reality gear makers need to align their roadmaps with those of software developers and ensure synchronous launch of quality hardware and software. If VR titles are not ready for this year’s holiday season, then it makes perfect sense to delay the commercial version of Oculus Rift as well.

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KitGuru Says: Sony’s launch schedule for Morpheus is most probably aligned with its own studios as well as several third-party developers. If the latter are also developing for Oculus VR’s headset, then their titles for different VR platforms will likely emerge at the same time, i.e., in the first half of next year. Looks like the revolution of gaming with the help of virtual reality technologies slips into 2016.

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