Oculus Rift - the VR headset Carmack showed at E3 - Kickstarted into dev kit production


The Oculus Rift -- a virtual reality headset which began as a garage project by VR-enthusiast Palmer Luckey -- is one step closer to being in your home and on your head. Oculus created a $250,000 Kickstarter campaign (opens in new tab) to acquire capital for the production of developer kits, and it's already achieved a balance of $445,844 with 30 days to go. That's momentum.

It helps when you have Gabe Newell "strongly encouraging" everyone to support the project, John Carmack calling it "the best VR demo probably the world has ever seen," and Cliff Bleszinski proclaiming himself "a believer." The Rift's powerful and influential backers are forward-thinking people (Gabe Newell is an especially accomplished predictor), which is a hint that head-mounted displays are on for real this time -- the cyberspace dreaming of the '80s and '90s is going practical.

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The Rift is lauded for its low-latency head tracking and face-consuming field of view, as well as its potential price. It's not as if good VR goggles are non-existent, they're just not something you impulse buy on Amazon, and what's available for consumers doesn't tick all of Oculus' gaming-centric boxes.

The $599.99 Wrap 1200VR (opens in new tab) is designed as a "virtual display," meaning that it projects "75-inch widescreen display, as seen from 10 feet." That's not what we're hearing about Oculus' headset, which is supposed immerse us in a world with a 110-degree diagonal FOV. The same goes for Sony's higher-resolution HMZ-T1 Wearable HDTV, (opens in new tab) which advertises a 45-degree FOV and doesn't feature head tracking. Even the $1799 Z800 3DVisor (opens in new tab) quits at 40-degrees diagonal FOV.

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The Rift's consumer price hasn't been set yet, but while the Kickstarter campaign (opens in new tab) is running, you can secure an assembled developer kit for $300. That price doesn't predict the consumer price -- smaller and larger backers are subsidizing these kits -- but it's not a bad sign.

The Rift dev kits are estimated to be delivered this December, and include a copy of Doom 3: BFG Edition, the first Oculus-compatible game. John Carmack's involvement in the project led to a demonstration of Doom 3 with Oculus at E3 in June, and the responses I've seen have ranged from positive to "OMG." For more about the technology, have a look at our coverage of that demo (opens in new tab) , complete with lots of over-our-heads Carmack talk.

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the rise of personal computers, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on the early PCs his parents brought home. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, Bushido Blade (yeah, he had Bleem!), and all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now. In 2006, Tyler wrote his first professional review of a videogame: Super Dragon Ball Z for the PS2. He thought it was OK. In 2011, he joined PC Gamer, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.