Oculus VR finalized specifications and release timeframe of its first Oculus Rift virtual reality headset for consumers back in May, but the company has always deliberately declined to disclose the price of the device. At its Oculus Connect conference earlier this week the firm indicated the low end of the Oculus Rift price and also revealed why it has not started to take pre-orders yet.
“We all know it is going to be at least $300,” said Nate Mitchell, vice president of products at Oculus VR, in an interview with PC Gamer.
At the Tokyo Game Show last week Andrew House, chief executive officer of Sony Computer Entertainment, said that the PlayStation VR head-mounted display will cost like a new game console, which means $399 right now, or less if Sony cuts the price of its PlayStation 4 by the time the device arrives. Since the first-generation consumer VR headsets use a lot of custom hardware, such as displays, they are not expected to be cheap to manufacture, hence, they will be rather expensive for the end-user. It is not surprising that according to Nate Mitchell the Rift headset will cost at least $300.
Right now Oculus VR is working on final details of the Oculus Rift and does not want to initiate pre-order program because the product is still “far ahead.”
“There isn’t a big reason to take your money too far ahead of the device,” said Mr. Mitchell. “What I think about all day long is user experience, right? So if I am going to promise you something and you are going to hand me a significant amount of money or whatever it is – we all know it’s going to be at least $300 – if you are going to hand me $300 today, I am not going to be excited to tell you: ‘OK, in nine, 10, 12, 11 months, whatever it is, you’re going to get something in return.’ The longer you wait, the more you are like, ‘This is obnoxious.’”
The Oculus Rift VR headset for gamers is set to hit the market in the first quarter of 2016. What is unclear is whether it will be early Q1 or late Q1.
Different market analysts draw different pictures for the market of virtual reality headsets next year. Gartner and Juniper Research believe that various manufacturers – Oculus, HTC/Valve and Sony – will sell two or three million VR headsets in 2016, respectively.
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KitGuru Says: Keeping in mind that Oculus VR and HTC/Valve consider their virtual reality headsets new gaming platforms, they will earn money not (only) by selling hardware, but by charging royalties from game developers. As a result, it is in their best interests to make the actual hardware very affordable. In general, as soon as Oculus VR figures out how many VR games it should expect in 2016 – 2017 and what the attach rate is going to be, it can determine the final price of its VR HMD. Until then, the MSRP will not be revealed.