there’s been some worry that this move indicates a major new platform
update is imminent. It’s not a crazy idea — plenty of companies, from
car dealerships to CPU and sometimes even GPU manufacturers will cut
prices to clear inventory and make room for upcoming models. In Oculus’
case, however, that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening.
CNET, Facebook’s Jason Rubin, head of content and marketing for Oculus
VR as well as being the creator of both Crash Bandicoot and Jak and
Daxter series, stated: “Someone who buys a Rift today has years of
enjoyment in front of them.”
While Nate Mitchell (co-founder of Oculus) and
Rubin gave neither Rift sales figures nor a launch date for a future
Oculus Rift 2.0, they stated they believed the current unit is more than
enough to drive VR into the true mainstream. They also talked about
having more channels available to players to help them find people to
game with, though that appears to be something the team has discussed as
opposed to starting to implement.
that after the Summer of Rift sale ends, the Rift will get another
price cut, this time permanently, to $499. The new bundle won’t include
an Xbox controller, but packs Oculus’ Touch controllers instead.
The strongest evidence that Rift won’t get an
update soon came during a conversation about eye tracking, wireless
gear, and other ideas that might help take VR into the mainstream
market. Asked about when we might see cutting-edge technology integrated
into the existing Rift or specified for Rift 2.0, Rubin stated:
Rift does not have eye-tracking. Rift might
add some sort of wireless that can be a peripheral. Eye-tracking is more
fundamental, as would be inside-out tracking, because Rift doesn’t have
a camera system inside. So if Rift is going to be around for a while,
that tells you something about how long we feel it’s going to take for
those things to become integrated and part of a full release.
I want to be clear: we are dropping the price
to get more people in Rifts because we expect the next years to be very
Rift-focused and Rift-centric.
To answer your question about all these other
technologies: People should not hold their breath and wait, it’s not
coming in a minute.
We should be able to see whether the Summer of
Rift kicked off a buying bonanza as soon as Steam Hardware Survey data
is available for July. In the meantime, you still have a few weeks to
pick up the Rift for $400, but it’ll still be available for $500 (as opposed to $800 six months ago) if you can’t quite save enough to hit that window.
plans to keep a $500 price point with its existing technology, there
may be room for a Vive 2 with upgraded visual capabilities and better
controls — provided Vive can deliver them for something less than $800.
When Vive was $800 and Oculus was $600 but lacked handheld controllers, a
number of reviewers argued for the Vive for that reason alone. Now that
the Rift is $400 ($500 in a few weeks) with
touch controllers, while the HTC Vive is still $800, HTC has
effectively lost the advantage it had. If it doesn’t cut prices or
release a dramatically improved system soon, it won’t stay in the pole
position of VR adoption.
Now, are these comments proof
that there’s no Rift refresh coming? Of course not. This would scarcely
be the first time a company has promised one thing but done another.
But on balance, it seems Rubin and Mitchell are being honest on this
one. The last year did a lot of damage to Oculus’ reputation, some
deserved, some not. Either way, the worst thing Facebook could do is
launch a new headset when people so recently spent $400 to $800 on a new
Getting VR systems into more homes, by
lowering the cost and barriers to entry, is far more important than
updating the specs and raising the price on hardware that only a
fraction of a percent of gamers own. Once VR headsets hit $200, with
accompanying GPUs driving them at the same price point, we’ll start to
see a lot more movement towards VR. At least, we’ll find out if price
drops are the right impetus to encourage people to hop over the other
barriers to entry and buy into the VR ecosystem.