Luckey: 'Oculus Rift is obscenely cheap for what it is'

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While the internet continues to debate the hefty 500/$600 price tag handed to Oculus Rift, Palmer Luckey has argued that it represents extremely good value.

Not only that, but the pricing means that Facebook itself won't be making a return on the device.

To reiterate, we are not making money on Rift hardware,” the Oculus founder said on Twitter. High end VR is expensive, but Rift is obscenely cheap for what it is.”

Luckey expanded on the tech expense in his Reddit AMA.

"The core technology in the Rift is the main driver,” he explained. Two built-for-VR OLED displays with very high refresh rate and pixel density, a very precise tracking system, mechanical adjustment systems that must be lightweight, durable, and precise, and cutting-edge optics that are more complex to manufacture than many high end DSLR lenses.

"It is expensive, but for the $599 you spend, you get a lot more than spending $599 on pretty much any other consumer electronics devices - phones that cost $599 cost a fraction of that to make, same with mid-range TVs that cost $599. There are a lot of mainstream devices in that price-range, so as you have said, our failing was in communication, not just price."

An argument against this, you would think, is that while an iPhone may cost around the same amount, a typical owner will use that device dozens, or perhaps even hundreds of times a day. On that basis, a good smartphone is actually fantastic value.

It's hard to imagine a VR headset seeing the same value return, especially with the sparse content line-up that is expected at launch.

The counter argument is that while smartphone are handy and great for entertainment, the VR experience is actually quite magical – and that comes at a premium folk will be willing to pay.

Although the ask of consumers becomes even bigger when you consider a 750-1000 PC is also required, bringing the total up to in the region of 1,500.

Elsewhere in the Reddit AMA, Luckey also warned that the 500 headset figure is very likely to remain in place for some time.

Very unlikely for the first generation of Rift,” he said when asked about the possibility of a more basic, cheaper SKU. A standardized system is in the best interest in developers trying to reach the widest audience, and we cannot significantly reduce the cost without dramatically reducing quality.”

Still, these things can always change. Kotaku spotted a quote from Luckey dating back to 2013 in which he states: If something's even $600, it doesn't matter how good it is, how great of an experience it is – if they can't afford it, then it really might as well not exist.”


Luckey yesterday apologised for the confusion around the Oculus Rift pricing, as the company had previously alluded to it being cheaper.