After Oculus Rift pre-orders went live, Palmer Luckey took to Reddit to explain why the headset was $250 more than anticipated. Last night, he dropped by /r/pcmasterrace for another round of public relations, discussing the business model for the Oculus Store and exclusive games, his own experimental über-rig and how the Rift transformed from a cheap and cheerful VR entry point to a $600 enthusiasts' plaything.
"When we say 'Oculus Exclusive'," Luckey writes, "that means exclusive to the Oculus Store, not exclusive to the Rift. We don't make money off the Rift hardware, and don't really have an incentive to lock our software to Rift."
This was in response to concerns that a hypothetical Rift 2 would be plagued by the exclusivity deals that define the console wars. As the Rift Store currently supports only the Rift and the Gear VR, I'm not sure how reassuring that is, although Luckey adds that "if and when other headsets come out in the future, and if and when the companies making those headsets allow us to support them, you might see wider support."
Publishing to the Oculus Store does not involve an exclusivity contract, so while first-party or Oculus-funded games will be most likely be limited to Oculus-supported devices, third-party devs can release on whatever platform they please in addition to the Oculus Store. Steam for VR seems to be the target model.
Regarding the price, Luckey says the dream of affordable, disruptive VR is still alive:
"Three years ago, I thought a good enough headset could be built for $300 and run on a decent gaming PC. Since then, we have learned a lot about what it takes to induce presence, and the landscape of the industry has changed a lot too ... The best way to make a technology mainstream is not always as simple as making a cheap product as quickly as possible. If Tesla had tried to make a $35k mass-market electric car back in 2008, they would have accomplished little."
There's an enormous amount of information in this round of answers, including Oculus' stance on porn (no, it won't be blocked; no, it won't be available from the Oculus Store), but I leave you with a snippet close to all of our hearts: Luckey's insane experimental gaming rig. He claims he'll be running his Rift on a PC with the recommended specs to make sure he's getting the experience of the average user, but everyday gaming is another matter.
"I have experimented with liquid nitrogen cooling in the past, but it is a huge pain to work with in any kind of daily use, and can also be dangerous. My new project is a very small super-powerful PC with no heatsinks and no fans—it is cooled by liquid propane, boiled into gaseous propane in an expansion block. From there, I can either compress back into a tank under high pressure, or vent out of a burner nozzle for supercooling to subzero temps."
Well that sounds much safer, and makes this $30,000 seven-GPU rig look like a children's toy.