Reddit has become the go-to for frank (or at least pseudo-frank) admissions of corporate mess-ups these past few months. Gabe Newell led the apologetic charge amid the unfolding paid mods disaster, and now Oculus founder Palmer Luckey has delivered a substantial AMA explaining why the Rift costs several hundred dollars more than expected, alongside new details.
"I handled the messaging poorly," Luckey says. "Earlier last year, we started officially messaging that the Rift+Recommended spec PC would cost roughly $1500.
"In a September interview, during the Oculus Connect developer conference, I made the infamous 'roughly in that $350 ballpark, but it will cost more than that' quote. As an explanation, not an excuse: during that time, many outlets were repeating the 'Rift is $1500!' line, and I was frustrated by how many people thought that was the price of the headset itself. My answer was ill-prepared, and mentally, I was contrasting $349 with $1500, not our internal estimate that hovered close to $599 - that is why I said it was in roughly the same ballpark."
$599—at which price Luckey claims Oculus don't make a profit—is the product of custom OLED displays, motion tracking and advanced optics "that are more complex to manufacture than many high end DSLR lenses."
Other morsels include the estimate that 100 games will be available on Rift by the end of the year, 20 from Oculus Studios, and that you shouldn't expect to be playing on maximum settings with just the recommended hardware. But we are PC gamers, and this is familiar territory.
I'm most surprised by the assertion that Rift games will not be exclusive to the Rift store but made available wherever the developer chooses. That's what we expect of games at present, but who didn't eye the Facebook buyout and imagine a closed platform creeping up on us?