On Wednesday, the Oculus Rift made its long awaited head-mounted display available for pre-order. In doing so, the company lifted the veil on several long-standing mysteries.
The biggest of these was the price of the headset, but a follow-up blog post on the Oculus website also revealed that the device will come bundled with the previously undiscussed Oculus Remote.
According to the blog post:
The Oculus Remote is a new input device we designed to make it simple and intuitive to navigate VR experiences. With Remote, you can easily browse the Oculus store, explore 360 video content in Oculus Video, or experience a wide range of VR games and entertainment. It is the easiest way to introduce non-gamers to VR.
Upload Editor-and-Chief Will Mason sought clarification from Oculus Head of Studios Jason Rubin.
When asked if the remote will have touch or motion components, and function as some sort of quasi-stand in for the delayed Oculus Touch controllers, Rubin compared the Oculus Remote to a basic computer mouse.
“It doesn’t use motion. It’s really simple. If you think of a mouse, it has a position and a button to click and an alternate button. [Oculus Remote] has a bit more functionality than a mouse. Your head is the location. You can look around the screen. Many games, and non-games like Netflix, will use that to select. It also has a main button on it, as well as an up, down, left, right buttons, a back button and a volume control,” Rubin said.
According to Rubin, the idea behind the remote is to remove the barrier for entry that a more complicated interface such as Oculus Touch, or even an Xbox Controller, could create for new users.
“If what you want to do is casual, or you are a casual person interested in VR but not gaming, you have an input device that you can use easily, comfortably and for long periods of time.”
This determination to reach a “casual” audience stands sharply juxtaposed to, what some are calling, the prohibitively high $599 launch price of the Rift. When asked about this disparity Rubin responded with a nugget of insight into Facebook’s long-term strategy for VR domination.
“VR’s progress is going to be a long road. It’s going to take a while for it to become really mass market. And clearly the price point we’ve set is for a really high quality product that is expensive to make and probably focused on core gamers and tech enthusiasts for a little while. But they have brothers, fathers, sisters, mothers that aren’t tech enthusiasts and we want them not to have to simultaneously experience VR for the first time and learn a gamer controller.”
Providing the Oculus Remote free in every box leads us to believe Oculus is hoping to turn early adopters into tech evangelists that spread the gospel of VR to the unconverted people in their lives.