Oculus Rift Update: RIP the 2016 virtual reality dream?

Oculus+Rift+Update%3A+RIP+the+2016+virtual+reality+dream%3F

I’ve been excited about the Oculus Rift since 2012, but the recent news that the price is to be double what CEO Palmer Luckley predicted is incredibly disappointing.

For the uninformed, the Oculus Rift represents to many people the “next level” of video game immersion—virtual reality. It’s a head-mounted display that tracks your movements, so when you turn, your view in the game turns with it. It’s been attempted before, most notably with Nintendo’s Ill-fated Virtual Boy back in 1995, but never before have we come this close to viable VR.

This summer, I actually had an opportunity to try out a developer version of the Rift at a game jam at NYU for students to show off their games, and I was blown away. It wasn’t flawless (I’ll give them benefit of the doubt, it was a prototype), but it was uncanny. It’s everything I could’ve wanted out of a virtual reality platform, and I immediately started saving money for one of my own.

Then, a couple weeks ago, the release date for the consumer version was announced—March 26th. I was pumped. Until I heard the price tag: a whopping $600. For me, and many others, that was blasphemy. Even enthusiasts couldn’t afford it. Not only would people have to pay for the Rift itself, but upgrade their computers to be able to use it smoothly in the first place, easily bringing the total cost up to $1000 or more.

So I guess 2016 isn’t gonna be the year of mass-market VR after all. But I get why they did it. They didn’t skimp on cost, which in the long run might be better. If they release a subpar product, it’d kill VR. But for those like me that just want to get their VR fix, it’s time to look to other platforms (like SteamVR, whose cost has not yet been determined) for salvation.