The Oculus Rift can be at least partially blamed for the currently promised VR explosion. The company launched on Kickstarter in 2012 and in the several years since has put out two very impressive developer systems, gotten acquired by Facebook and spawned a number of competitors.
What it has not done is launched a consumer product. Three days ago they announced that the Oculus Rift would be available on pre-order for consumers today at 8am Pacific time or about 4pm in the UK. They said that there would be an Xbox One Controller bundled along with a copy of Eve: Valkyrie and the VR movie Lucky’s Tale. What they didn’t say was when it would be shipping – US, UK or internationally or what the price would be.
At 4pm the site clicked over – the Oculus Rift will be available in 20 countries including the UK, USA, most of Europe and Oceania. It will ship in March with a limit of one per customer. It will cost £499 in the UK plus shipping or $599 in the US.
So is the Rift going to be for you? If you were a original Kickstarter backer at a level above $275 you’re getting a nice surprise – as a thank you for the amount of time it’s been since the original project they’re sending out a free unit. That’s around 8000 people.
For everyone involved having a powerful enough PC is absolute requirement. Oculus recommends a minimum GPU of a NVIDIA GTX 970 with an Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater, 8GB RAM, HDMI 1.3, 3 USB 3.0 Ports and one USB 2.0 and Windows 7 or later but something considerably more powerful is going to be needed to get the best out of it. Oculus also provide a tool you can download that will check out your PC and see if it qualifies.
Finally you have to remember that despite the two developer issues the Rift is also a first generation device launched into a market place with two major competitors on the horizon.
Personally I’ll be seeing if I can get some hands on time but I’ll be waiting to see how the market settles out and possible for the second generation before leaping in.