Oculus Re-Focuses Best Buy Rift Demos On Larger Markets

by Joe Durbin • February 8th, 2017

Oculus is pulling demo stations for its Rift virtual reality headsets form certain Best Buy stores. While this might be seen by some as confirmation that VR and/or Oculus is struggling, it looks to us like an attempt to maximize success rather than run from failure.

Let’s start with the facts. Yes, Oculus is removing its demo stations from certain Best Buys across the United States. Business Insider puts that number at around 200. However, according to a statement released by Facebook/Oculus, this news may not be as catastrophic as it may appear.

“We’re making some seasonal changes and prioritizing demos at hundreds of Best Buy locations in larger markets,” the statement reads.


Oculus first started running these demos in May with 48 locations. This number then ballooned to 500 locations over the next six months. All of this is consistent with a marketing blitz that a company with significant capital would launch to test demand and explore consumer sentiment for a new product class. In fact, Oculus kicked off December with the Oculus Touch launch, meaning it had every reason to demo the Rift in as many locations as possible through Christmas. It stands to reason then that after this initial glut, said company would move on to focus on its best performing locations once it became clear where the expense of a demo station can no longer be justified.

The Best Buy locations losing their demo stations will also continue selling the Rift. It is not being stripped from anyone’s shelves. According to Facebook, there are still “hundreds” of Best Buys running Rift demos and “[At Oculus we] still believe the best way to learn about VR is through a live demo. We’re going to find opportunities to do regular events and pop ups in retail locations and local communities throughout the year.”

Those interested can visit live.oculus.com to find the closest demo.

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What's your reaction?
  • VR Geek

    Oculus seems to think that they can put a positive marketing spin on anything, but come on, most of us can see right through it. “We’re making some seasonal changes and prioritizing demos at hundreds of Best Buy locations in larger markets,”. DESPERATE damage control. I put Oculus beside Xerox and their Windows misstep as the biggest tech business blunders of all time. I am certain history will show this once the dust settles.

    • Mike

      That comparison makes no sense. Xerox couldn’t capitalize on value in marketplace. Yet I owned an Oculus Rift and a Vive. And after using both I preferred the Rift for screen, ergonomics, convenience and the Touch controllers that were soon to be released. The Vive had it’s own advantages, in the slightly larger tracking range for example. But I did prefer the Rift’s advantages. This does’nt make sense comparing it to Xerox at all. Maybe try to analyze again after generation 3 VR headsets come out.

  • David D. Taylor

    Hope it’s not my Best Buy. The BB demo was what convinced my friend and I to buy an Oculus Rift over Vive!

  • jimrp

    Most want try it because they can not just walk in and try it.

  • NooYawker

    I don’t see why the cost of a display model is prohibitive. There’s Xbox and PS4 stations everywhere. Everyone who tries a VR system is blown away.

    • Mike

      I think the cost is more related to the fact they have manned stations rather than the cost of the setup. I would guess they have manned stations due to a health and safety concerns of putting someone in VR throwing their arms around.

  • Mike

    Oculus need a new PR department. They seem to be constantly making decisions that are easily viewed negatively. Pulling the stands is a terrible idea, no way people are going to believe “seasonal changes and prioritizing demos” it only makes it look like they aren’t selling enough units to validate the stands.
    My local Currys (UK) had the Oculus setup with touch and using it in store was a key factor in deciding Oculus or Vive. Its important people are able to try these things before spending £700 on one.

  • Mourz

    We are also seeing quite a few VR arcades open. We have one that opened at the local mall. However, ours just carries HTC Vives. As does the microsoft store where demo’s are free and you don’t have to schedule in advanced.

    I’m sure this varies by city, but I went into best buy twice hoping to demo, with no luck. After second time I went to the website but the first time slot was 2 weeks away. I have already tried the Rift, but for market research I wannted to see how the demo was conducted at VR arcade vs. Microsoft store vs Best Buy. Lets just say I was not impressed with BB/Rift compared to the others.

    Unlike others who have posted, I don’t think it is a big deal that they are limiting the number of preview stations. I’ve worked in product development for retail products. It is expensive to man a station and dedicate space for the trial. It makes sense to do it only seasonaly and in prime locations.

    With the Vive easier to try and a better experience, I don’t see Oculus’ path to victory. It seems like Vive is pulling further ahead in year 2, but the year is still young.

    • NooYawker

      I think the next gen will have a bigger impact on who will lead. We’re all early adopters right now.