When the Oculus Rift was unveiled last week, it did not do so with a hyped massive marketing blitz praiseworthy of a brand new video game smartphone. But instead, many of the virtual reality gimmicks only arrived on the stair case of early adopters willing to pull $600 for the impeccable technology.
Palmer Luckey started an interest in the current VR approximately four years ago with the kick-start of a headset he designed from smartphone parts. The gizmo has transformed into a head-mounted demo, capable of taking wearers to virtual worlds, without having the same level of nausea-inducing side effects that affected VR inventions in the year 1990s.
After being taken over by Facebook for about $2 billion in 2014 and unveiling more experimental models of the Rift for developers, Oculus’ first headset was unveiled last week. The first version has already been sold out but new versions won’t be available until this summer. The batting expectations and praise for high-fidelity VR have reduced in most recent months, because of low supply of headsets and more consumers who own PCs fast enough to run them. There are also more concerns about the potential for VR health issues such as motion sickness.
Oculus hasn’t disclosed how many headsets it has sold since the consumer version first ever went on sale in January. The Rift, which requires a PC going at approximately $1,000 to operate it, is restricted from being distributed to members of the media for review in order to have more orders from customers.
There is a lot of expectation that the head-tracking headset was to be unveiled with an Xbox One controller and many games but it was not to be attached with the Oculus Touch controllers, which can produce the feeling of hands in VR. The motion-detecting controllers will be released later this year for an undisclosed price tag.
Their developer anticipates that the technology will transform to feel more like a pair of sunglasses than ski goggles.
The Rift’s release is closely monitored and followed by the debut of the HTC Vive, a more adaptable and more expensive headset that comes attached with a two wand-like sensors and controllers that enable standing VR experiences. The Vive will be unveiled on April 5 and cost $800. Sony will also enter the VR market in October with a PlayStation VR, a $400 head-mounted display that operates in coordination with the PlayStation 4 console and not a PC.
John Riccitiello, CEO of game engine company Unity has cautioned over overhyping VR, despite Unity investing much in the 360-degree medium by developing specific tools to make VR content. He said unveiling the consumer versions of VR headsets alone doesn’t demonstrate a technological advancement.
While the past four years had seemingly been building to last week release of the Oculus Rift, most VR analysts agreed that VR will be a tortoise, not a hare, if it wins the latest technology race.
It will be a bigger next year, and the year after that it’ll be even bigger,” Riccitiello said. “I think by 2019, it’ll feel like an industry.”