Pre-orders are now open for the first Oculus Rift consumer virtual reality headset and the company finally revealed the all-important price: $599 (€699 in Europe and £499 in the UK). Oculus CEO Palmer Luckey knows that the long-term success or failure of the Rift depends a lot on that number, but he appears to have calculated well. The initial ship date was marked as March 28th, but started showing as April soon after, so it appears that the early run sold out after just 15 minutes. While $599 is a considerable chunk of change for most consumers, early adopters appear to have jumped on it, thanks no doubt to the years-long launch buildup.
I should point out that my hardcore gaming days are quickly fading. I simply don’t have the time or energy that I once did to sink into the role-playing games and first-person shooters that I prefer to play. That’s not to say I won’t spend eight hours on a Saturday powering through Far Cry 4 , but I’m no longer blowing every Saturday that way. More often than not, if I am spending that downtime on my couch, it’s going to be binge-watching Netflix. As such, I want whatever I buy next to give me the broadest entertainment options possible – including games, video, audio and social content.
Let’s start with the Xbox One. The Xbox One is Microsoft’s latest and greatest entertainment console. Beyond having the exclusive Halo and Gears of War franchises, of which I’m a huge fan, the Xbox One also offers Blu-ray playback and my preferred mix of streaming services including Netflix, Hulu, Crunchyroll and HBO Go (which, as a Comcast customer, I wouldn’t have access to on a PS4). What it doesn’t offer, however, is a compatible virtual reality headset. Granted, Microsoft talks a good game about the augmented reality-based HoloLens, but there’s not much chance that it’ll be compatible with the Xbox One when it debuts.
The PS4 also holds an advantage over the Xbox One since Sony is already hard at work developing an honest-to-goodness VR headset, the PlayStation VR (formerly, Project Morpheus). Microsoft has promised the ability to stream Xbox-to-Windows games on the Rift, but that effort lags far behind what Sony’s managed to do with the PSVR. PlayStation’s headset is slated to debut in the first half of 2016, though there’s not much beyond rampant speculation as to the price. Still, between games like Eve: Valkyrie , Tekken 7 , Until Dawn: Rush of Blood and RIGS , throwing down for a PSVR headset seems like a no brainer, regardless of its price.
The Oculus Rift giveaway, on the other hand, is still a very big unknown. We’ve seen a bunch of playable demos illustrating what the system is capable of and a number of indie game developers have already jumped on board, as well as a few console emulators However, the list of top shelf studios signed on to produce game and movie content is still pretty thin. That’s likely to expand exponentially after the the Rift actually hits store shelves, but jumping onto an untested console like this is a gamble I’m not sure I’m willing to take – especially when you look at what the Rift is supposedly going to cost.
Damaged Core, VR Sports Challenge, Esper, AirMechVR and Lucky’s Tale will be available on oculus rift vr headset next year and are all going to be in attendance at E3 2015. Harmonix and Square Enix were confirmed to be other developers working on games for Oculus, though their titles were not specified. Oculus also announced that $10 million will be invested in indie games in the coming months.