Palmer Luckey Warns Oculus Rift May Not Be Affordable To All At Launch

by Ian Hamilton • December 24th, 2015

Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey continues to function as a kind of expectations manager for Facebook’s VR company after telling people recently the Rift would open for pre-orders “soon after new year.” He used his Twitter and Reddit megaphones to warn enthusiasts the Rift might be higher priced than they expect.

I started a poll to gauge expectations, with more than 250 responding as of this writing and more than half guessing the price will be $500 or less.

Here’s Luckey’s tweetstorm collected into a single paragraph, with key comments bolded:

Reminder of something I have talked about before: VR will become something everyone wants before it becomes something everyone can afford. Future advancements and high volume will make VR available to everyone eventually, but 1st gen will be mostly early adopters. Extreme means like selling at-cost to ensure maximum market growth are not enough to align cost and desired price. Multiple custom VR panels, high end optics, and an endless list of specialized hardware and manufacturing techniques add up. The cost of development hardware that was sold at a loss using many off-the-shelf components is not a good comparison. It is no coincidence that Oculus will lead this reality check the same way we led this VR revolution – 1st to market is hard. There are a lot of people who expect to spend a couple hundred bucks and use their existing low end laptops. We are taking some big steps to make sure people know what they are getting into – we don’t want to sell to people who don’t.

Luckey added to his comments on Reddit:

…even selling at cost is not enough to make VR as affordable as everyone wants – people who think we are going to come out ahead on hardware don’t understand that our goal is to make the VR market as large as possible so developers (and Oculus) have a large enough addressable market to make VR content financially viable and self-sustaining.

Back in May Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe said the Rift plus computer should cost around $1,500. Since then Oculus announced a partnership with Microsoft to bundle an Xbox One controller with the Rift, which sells for around $60 on its own, and PC manufacturer partnerships to deliver Oculus Ready PCs starting at around $950. It’s unclear whether Iribe’s rough estimation included these future partnerships figured in or if the number he provided was more an aspiration, and component prices added up for Oculus as they moved closer to manufacturing the first consumer Rift.       UPDATE: Palmer Luckey again took to Twitter this afternoon to continue emphasizing his point. It looks like the price may be higher than expected, but will still be sold at cost with high-end hardware inside.  

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