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Oculus Rift - Quality hardware and content is what you pay for

Oculus Rift.jpg

Last week the Oculus Rift pre-orders finally opened up and revealed a price of $600 (R9600) which led to my article entitled “Stepping into the Rift is too costly”. Most of our readers that the Rift is too costly, especially when many PC gamers still have to upgrade their GPU in order to meet the minimum system requirements.

You might wonder why the Rift is so expensive, what it offers and if you should still consider buying one. Thankfully, Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus VR, latest Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit has revealed some interesting information, including more on the price, hardware quality, virtual desktop app and store exclusivity. Further, if you are from Australia, you will be paying a lot more for the Rift.

About the Rift's price and hardware quality

Mr. Luckey’s highly inaccurate “ballpark” figure of $350 has not been good PR for Oculus VR, with many potential consumers disappointed with the much higher-than-expected price point. Mr. Luckey took to Reddit to further explain the pre-order price and notes that the “dream of affordable, disruptive VR” is still alive:

"Three years ago, I thought a good enough headset could be built for $300 and run on a decent gaming PC. Since then, we have learned a lot about what it takes to induce presence, and the landscape of the industry has changed a lot too ...The best way to make a technology mainstream is not always as simple as making a cheap product as quickly as possible. If Tesla had tried to make a $35k mass-market electric car back in 2008, they would have accomplished little." - Source

It still remains to be seen if VR gaming will become a mainstream technology or a niche product. If you do buy a Rift, you are paying for quality and not just a cheap product the masses can afford.

Eve: Valkyrie video above as advertised on the Rift’s pre-order page

Mr. Luckey talks about the Rift’s display quality:

“Our Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) displays and control over the viewing environment make it one of the most accurate displays you can get. In the near future, VR displays are going to surpass traditional displays in almost every way.”- Source

Further, the Rift displays “are calibrated out of the box” which means that PC gamers will not need to “manually calibrate them” in order to achieve the best possible VR experience. All users will have the same image quality in their games / applications.

Oculus Store exclusivity and business model

One concern raised in the Reddit AMA is that much like consoles, Oculus will be pushing for content exclusive to its hardware. It is a valid concern, especially since exclusivity would fracture the VR community, locking content behind a specific platform (very much like console exclusives for the PS4 and Xbox One).

When asked about why someone should buy a Rift, Mr. Luckey explains the Oculus exclusives situation, putting some concerns to rest:

“Superior hardware and features, but you might slightly misunderstand our business model. When we say ‘Oculus Exclusive’, that means exclusive to the Oculus Store, not exclusive to the Rift. We don't make money off the Rift hardware, and don't really have an incentive to lock our software to Rift. That is why the Oculus Store is also on Samsung's Gear VR. Gear VR and the Rift are the first consumer VR devices coming out, but in the future, I expect there will be a wide range of hardware at a variety of price and quality points, much like the television and phone markets.

Here is a good article from a couple years back talking about why we don't plan on selling a billion units alone: If that happens, we will be in a really good place, and will continue to invest in next-generation VR hardware that sets the bar for how good VR can be.” 

Throughout the Rift’s development, Mr. Luckey  has stated that the Rift has “the best content”. Reddit user Voidsheep asked Mr. Luckey: “You've repeatedly stated Oculus has ‘the best content’, how big part does (exclusive) content play in your business model?” to which he replied by stating:

“Currently, a large one. Remember that a few years ago, we were the only players in the VR game. We had to make sure there was content for our device, and we have invested a lot of our resources into making that happen through both Oculus Studios and third parties. In the long run, though, I hope that the VR market is successful enough to not require huge content investment from us - if that happens, our risk goes down, and our profits go up.

In the meanwhile, anything we make is going to go through our store. That way, the distribution cut also goes to us instead of someone else, which helps us pay our employees, give financial and development aid to game devs, and keep the price of our hardware as low as possible.” - Source

new palmer.jpg

Mr. Luckey hopes the store is going to be this big.

Further interesting information coming out of the AMA are as follows:   

  • Publishing a game on the Oculus Stores does not require an exclusivity contract.
  • Currently only the Rift and Samsung’s GearVR is supported on the store. However, when more headsets come out and allow Oculus VR to support them, you “might see” wider support.
  • Oculus VR is focusing on launching their own products right now, but this might change in the future.
  • The Oculus Store is built for VR. When you visit the store page for a game, the store can load a 360 degree capture of a scene from the game to give you a better sense of what it will be like in a VR environment. 
  • Mr. Luckey notes that he will be running his Rift on a PC with the recommended specs to make sure he gets the same experience as the average user.

Basically, the Oculus Store is key to the Rift’s success. It is excellent news that content won’t be exclusive to the Rift, but that the Store aims to attract consumers through quality products.      

The Australian Rift pricing debacle

According to GamerNexus, Oculus VR has a warehouse in Sydney Australia and therefore ships domestically. However, since Oculus VR is charging $130 for shipping and “appears to be charging US taxes as well as Australian taxes, it “all gets paid by the Australian consumer.

A concerned Reddit user socially_reddited asked about the Australian pricing, to which Mr. Luckey replied:

“I can't throw anyone under the bus. Wish I had a better answer for you, I really do. If it helps, it should be clear from our international pricing choices overall that we are not trying to gouge anyone, I don't have anything out for Australia.”

Not satisfied with the answer given, Reddit user noorbeast asked if potential Australian consumers should refer their concerns to the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) in order to get a satisfying response to the query. Mr. Luckey responded with a short and to some, taunting answer, stating that: “Feel free, would be interesting to see what they say.”

Now to some this might seem like a “go ahead, file a complaint” dare. However, if you take his first response into consideration it might just be a situation to which he does not have a solid answer, not knowing why this is happening. For example, he does state in his first response that “I wish I had a better answer for you, I really do” as well as noting that he does not have anything against Australia.

What do you think about the Oculus Store exclusivity details? Is the Oculus worth buying at its current price or will you be waiting for a cheaper alternative / price drop? Let us know in the comment section below.

Source: Reddit

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