Yes, ‘Oculus Rift’ Is Expensive – But We Shouldn’t Be Surprised By That

This week, Oculus Rift made waves by finally announcing the price of their long awaited VR unit, and to the surprise of everyone it seems, it’s a bit more expensive than early estimates. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada this past week, Oculus VR announced that their Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset would cost consumers 599 US Dollars, much higher than original estimates were showing, even from Oculus themselves.

As The Inquisitr reported on previously, Oculus’ inventor Paul Lucey originally gave eager VR fans a ballpark estimate, saying that Oculus Rift should run about $350, though left it open to be higher if it proved to be the case. So when fans saw the price revealed at CES 2016, naturally there was some surprise and confusion. However, when you look at the history of PC tech, we really shouldn’t have been.

Oculus Rift Price Surpises
Image via Oculus

It’s New Tech

VR is still relatively new in this new wave of virtual reality mania. Sure companies tinkered with VR back in the 90s (everyone should remember Nintendo’s failed “Virtual Boy”). However, Oculus Rift sparked a new wave of VR enthusiasts looking for new ways to interface with their tech. However, as PC tech is introduced, it often has a high price point. Graphics cards, monitors, new CPUs – all PC hardware typically starts expensive as adoption rates are low. Yet as those rates increase, the product becomes more mainstream. It becomes cheaper over time to manufacture.

Take a look at Nvidia’s GSync monitor technology, a good comparison to the Oculus Rift. Both, at their core, are new, innovative ways for people to interface and experience their PC. Oculus, when you get right down to it, is simply another display for your computer. GSync monitors use its tech to give players a smoother, higher fidelity display, increasing the quality of the experience. Both are priced relatively out of the way for most layman computer users. Yet, with GSync, most people accept the price as the cost of innovation. However, thanks to Lucey’s previous comments, social media and journalist alike have been surprised by the price of the VR unit. We shouldn’t be however, simply by looking at PC trends. Lucey went on the defensive, saying that even at the higher price, Oculus is “insanely cheap.”

Of Course You Might Need To Upgrade

The other large argument gaining steam is that the barrier of entry is made further out of reach because of the need to upgrade hardware in order to use the Oculus Rift. Yet, this should come as no surprise as well. Tech releasing in 2016 may not run on a computer made in 2011. Yet people are surprised that their rigs may not handle the Oculus Rift. Many are pointing to Sony’s Playstation VR unit as a direct beneficiary of this, given that Sony’s hardware is immovable and set, using the fact that PS4 users already have the neccessary hardware needed to run the PSVR unit. However, even that is a bit misleading.

Yes, PSVR will interface with a PS4, yet the console on its own is not powerful enough to run the VR unit. Even Sony’s hardware is unable to run their own VR device without some help. It has been reported that the PSVR requires a separate processing unit in order to run the PSVR, much like the Oculus Rift requires a certain level of hardware to be functional. Again, Nvidia’s GSync monitors are another clear example here, as they only work with Nvidia GPUs, and even then certain models. While some companies are charging an arm and a leg for an Oculus Rift-ready PC, with Alienware’s PC running consumers around $1600 for the total package, you can build a PC for far less and lower that barrier of entry. Logical Increments has a guide for a cheaper VR-ready machine for less than the Alienware cost, and one that will be good to use for a few years to come.

The price of the Oculus Rift did come as a shock to many, but that is mainly due to Oculus’ own announcements regard its cost. In reality, we shouldn’t have been surprised by the price, nor the requirements to run Oculus Rift. Additionally, the Rift isn’t the only VR on the market, giving consumers choice in what they use to maximize their VR options.

Looking into a consumer model of the Oculus Rift? Surprised by Oculus’ price at CES? Sound off in the comments below.

[Images via Oculus Rift]