The Oculus Rift was hailed as a groundbreaking device that could usher in a new technological era. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be happening. Even though most people who have tried the Rift and other VR headsets have been pretty much blown away, VR doesn’t seem to be catching on to the average consumer.
According to Business Insider, the Rift stations are closing down at Best Buy.
“Facebook is closing around 200 of its 500 Oculus virtual reality demo stations at Best Buy locations across the US, Business Insider has learned.”
The article adds that the scaling back of the Oculus Rift demos comes after workers from several Best Buys indicated that it was common for them to go days without giving a single demonstration. However, Oculus spokeswoman Andrea Schubert said the closings were due to “seasonal changes.”
“We’re making some seasonal changes and prioritizing demos at hundreds of Best Buy locations in larger markets. You can still request Rift demos at hundreds of Best Buy stores in the US and Canada.,” Schubert is quoted as saying.
This certainly isn’t the nail in the coffin for virtual reality, but it is a slight setback. When the Oculus Rift officially went on sale in March, reviews were mixed. The New York Times says the Oculus Rift is a clunky portal to a promising virtual reality.
“I can report that while the Rift is a well-built hardware system brimming with potential, the first wave of apps and games available for it narrows the device’s likely users to hard-core gamers. It is also rougher to set up and get accustomed to than products like smartphones and tablets.”
Geoffrey A. Fowler from The Wall Street Journal believed that the Oculus Rift just wasn’t ready for the mainstream upon its release.
“The Rift demonstrates flashes of a brilliant future where we can move freely through countless virtual worlds. But even after I fixed the sensor glitch, a week with the Rift showed me it still needs to dig itself out of some deep holes,” Fowler said, adding that the Rift is the type of product you wanted to try, but not really own unless you are a serious gamer.
Part of the problem is that the Oculus Rift is an expensive investment. Right now, a Rift with a compatible PC costs about $1,400. Then, you have to pay $200 if you want the Oculus Touch controllers, which many see as essential for an immersive experience.
“Oculus Touch, however, brings the Facebook-owned Oculus and its Rift at least one step closer to the virtual reality game-changer we’ve all been crowing about. Released as an optional accessory for the Rift headset, the twin controllers are about as far from optional as an accessory can get,” claimed Ben Silverman from Yahoo Tech.
Perhaps mobile VR is where the technology will take off. Samsung has been successful with the Gear VR, a lighter mobile version of the Rift that uses the Galaxy Note or Galaxy S device as a screen. While the developer’s edition that came out in December of 2014 received mixed reviews, the most recent consumer edition, released in August of 2016, received great reviews.
Google has also been trying to promote VR with its Daydream View headset that works with the Google Pixel or the Pixel XL. The device has been praised for its hardware, but it has also been criticized for not offering many software titles to take advantage of the hardware.
Where do you think VR is going? Do you think it will eventually take off, or will it become obsolete like 3D television sets? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
[Featured Image by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]