Creator of virtual reality headset unlikely to use crowdfunding site again

Oculus Rift wouldn’t get through new Kickstarter rules

An eagerly awaited virtual reality product that’s making its way to retail thanks to crowdfunding would not have been possible under Kickstarter’s new rules, the project’s creator claims.

The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset promises to be a gateway to immersive game experiences, and over 9,000 backers believed the hype, leading the project to shatter its goal of $250,000 with more than $2.4 million pledged.

Its original campaign used renders and video simulations to show the vision for the final product. Under Kickstarter’s new rules such methods are no longer allowed to be used in campaigns.

“Under the current rules, if we tried to submit our Kickstarter [for Oculus] again, it probably wouldn’t even get through,” Oculus founder Palmer Luckey told Develop.

Luckey praised Kickstarter and said it was the “easiest way for us to set up a system where everyone could collaborate, get updates and set up pre-orders”.

Kickstarter changed its rules for product design and hardware campaigns on its service in September. Its reason for altering them appeared to be to relieve creators from the pressure of setting themselves up for a fall, but also to protect backers from projects making false claims. As well as renders and simulations, bulk selling has also been disallowed.

When asked whether he would use Kickstarter for possible future Oculus products, Luckey said it’s unlikely at present.

“That’s tricky because we may not need Kickstarter in the future," he stated.

"It’s a really good platform, but once you’ve already got a company established and running, and you have all these developer kits, Kickstarter isn’t necessarily the best way to go forward.

“It was great when we used it, so I’m not going to rule it out for the future, but we’re not looking to it for the immediate future.”

Luckey’s project achieved huge success on Kickstarter, but he feels that it was not down to the crowdfunding platform alone.

“I’d say that its success is not necessarily owed to Kickstarter as it is to internet communities in general," he said.

"A huge portion of our orders came from Reddit. At one point they were by far our biggest source of orders – almost 20 per cent of the orders just from one website, one community.

“I think that that’s not necessarily a function of Kickstarter, because Kickstarter provides a platform, it doesn’t provide marketing. So I think the fact that there’s a huge ecosystem of tech sites, social media and news aggregation sites that make it really easy for people to find out about new technologies does a lot more than any one particular funding platform.”

Oculus Rift developer kits are currently in production and the company intends to ship versions of the kit between now and March 2013.

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