Oculus Rift team want to release consumer version of the headset for free
There's been an abundance of intriguingnews about the tools and applications of VR faceset Oculus Rift. Which is great, if you're an owner of the $300 developer kit. For everyone else, it's like watching the cool kids play with their fancy View-Master, flicking between pictures of dinosaurs, while you're left listlessly browsing a picture book about chaffinches.
As yet, we don't even know how the Rift will be officially released to the public, let alone when. But in an interview with Edge at last week's Develop conference, Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe suggested that their eventual hope is to find a business model that will let interested players pick one up for free.
"The lower the price point, the wider the audience," Iribe said. "We have all kinds of fantasy ideas. We’d love it to be free one day, so how do we get it as close to free as possible? Obviously it won’t be that in the beginning. We’re targeting the $300 price point right now but there’s the potential that it could get much less expensive with a few different relationships and strategies."
"You can imagine if Microsoft and Sony can go out and subsidise consoles because there’s enough money to be made on software and other areas, then there’s the potential that this, in partnership, could get subsidised. Let’s say there was some game you played in VR that everybody loved and everybody played and we made $100 a month – or even $10 a month – at some point the hardware’s cheap enough and we’re making enough that we could be giving away the headset."
"We’re not there yet," he finished, "but we’re sitting there thinking all the time, how can we make this free? You want everybody to play it and the cheaper it is, the more people are going to go out and buy it. Today it’s a $300 dev kit but we’re thinking about how to get it out to as many people as possible."
It's a sensible attitude. Seemingly everyone who tries the Rift comes back with broadly positive stories of exciting tech, slight queasiness and being [censored] out of a [censored]. Which means the biggest hurdle is persuading people that it's not just a rehash of ropey '80s tech. And the best way to do that is getting it out into people's hands and faces.