Affordable virtual reality is becoming more of, well, a reality.
Facebook-owned Oculus announced overnight that it has dropped the price of its Rift VR headset bundle with hand-tracking Touch controllers by $200 (all prices USD), down to $399. This price point is half of what the company was charging a mere five months ago.
The drop is a surprise as early last year Oculus cofounder Palmer Lucky was quoted as saying that the company was not turning a profit at the $599 price point. Parent-company Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg even stated in February this year that “we’re a little behind where we want to be right now” and that VR sales would not be profitable for some time.
It was revealed earlier this year that Facebook actually purchased Oculus in 2014 for $3 billion in 2014, not the $2 billion originally stated. The extra billion came in the form of employee retention packages and goal targets.
The price drop comes as Oculus pushes special pricing for the summer, aptly named the “Summer of Rift.” The price of games for the Rift has also dropped. You will still need a fairly high-end PC to run an immersive VR experience with the Rift, but the dropping prices will allow more access to this kind of cutting edge gaming technology.
There is speculation that the sudden (and frequent) price cuts to the Rift VR are a result of slow and waning sales from Oculus. Back In February, Super Data revealed an estimation of total VR sales, and the Oculus Rift VR trailed behind all of their major competitors, having moved just 240,000 total units. Oculus’ major VR competitors include Playstation VR, Samsung Gear VR and the HTC Vive. Of those, Samsung Gear is hugely ahead in terms of total sales by over four million units simply because it is much cheaper than the other options, coming in under $100.
The price drop for the Oculus VR means that it is now more accessible and cheaper than some competitors, which could prompt buyers to turn away from the more recognizable gaming brands of Playstation or HTC’s Vive SteamVR.
More reasoning for such a drastic price cut could come in October as Oculus hosts its annual Connect convention on the 11th and 12th. Rumors of new hardware have been swirling, so this 33% price drop may be leading up to the launch of a “Rift 2.0” or something similar as the company tries to unload older devices.