Oculus looks to bridge gap with Vive with big price cut

Oculus has announced the first major price cut for its Rift VR technology.

The Rift headset itself has been cut from $599 to $499, while the recently released Touch controllers have been halved in price to $99 for the pair. This means that the Rift, two controllers and two camera now costs $598 – that’s a $200 saving.

Most importantly, however, it’s also $200 cheaper that the $799 HTC Vive.

There are a few caveats, of course. If you want to try and set up a Vive-like room scale experience with Rift you’ll need a third camera, although they too have been reduced, down from $79 to $59. Note too that Rift has been having a few issues with its room scale setups, which are still flagged as experimental on the site. Recent updates to the hardware are said to have improved the situation for many, however.

Room scale on Rift also requires a fairly complicated wiring setup, as each of the sensors needs to be connected to a user’s PC via a USB cable. This can be a pain, as you’re scattering the cameras around the room. Vive uses just two Lighthouses for room scale, and there only need to be connected to the mains.

Regardless, price remains the biggest barrier to entry for VR and for one of the major players to make such an aggressive move can only help adoption of the tech and make the ecosystem more tempting for developers.

We’ve read all the stories and looked at the analyst reports. VR is going through the normal adoption cycle for new pieces of technology. We saw hype into launch, facing impossible expectations, and we will eventually break out with the ‘hockey stick’ of mass adoption,” Oculus’ head of content Jason Rubin said.

Oculus believes, as do the thousands of original Kickstarter backers and millions of current users, that VR is the next computing platform. We also know that if there aren’t major investments made to the ecosystem, it’s going to take a really long time to reach that eventuality. So today, Oculus is aggressively making the high end of VR more attainable.

Today’s new, lower price of Rift and Touch doubles down on a year of dropping PC and graphics card prices. We believe this lower entry price will attract consumers to PC VR at a faster pace. This is universally good for the entire community, but especially for developers. A larger userbase means higher potential sales, easier player matching, better communities, and results in the ability to invest more in titles. This increased investment means better software which in turn brings more consumers. This virtuous cycle is the fuel that can launch PC VR.”

Analyst estimates have pegged lifetime worldwide Rift sales at around 243k, with HTC Vive at 420k. Vive has also seen a surge of interest from developers, overtaking Rift as the VR platform of choice. Oculus is also in the midst of a nasty court battle with ZeniMax, which is currently looking to halt sales of the device.

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