The year is 1990. The Playstation is just four years away, Space Quest III has been replaced by King’s Quest V, and the Neo Geo is hitting the shelves of the American console market. Following a popular arcade line, SNK releases the console to the consumer in hopes of bringing the arcade experience to the home. What followed was an abysmal price point, lack of usable software, and although the hardware and experience was considered good at the time, by 1993 the 3DO was pushing the boundaries of the Neo Geo. Why is all of this important? We don’t play on the 3DO MK4. No one has a Neo Geo CD 3. These consoles lost the war to the more competitively priced Sony or Nintindo options on the market. A high price point, and lack of software drove off many consoles in the 80s and 90s, and there are echoes of this today.
Oculus has announced it’s price point for the upcoming Rift. The nearing release of the Consumer Version 1.0 had would-be customers ready to burst out of their seats at the opportunity to pre-order such an amazing piece of technology. The catch? Exorbitant shipping costs, and $250 more than they were initially speculating. Yes, $600 for the Oculus Rift CV1 (Plus shipping, and don’t even look at the prices in Australia or Europe).
This price point is not unjustified. The sheer pixel density of the screens, the motion tracking technology, and all that packed into a head mounted display? New Technology costs a lot, internet! It’s especially expensive when you consider the thousands of free rifts that are getting shipped to backers… Wait, what?
Every backer who pledged enough to get the Development Kit 1 (275 usd) is getting shipped a free Oculus Kickstarter Edition, and they are passing the savings on to you in the form of high shipping costs.
All speculation aside (seriously, they are charging $30+ to ship inside the US), the Rift releasing at a price point that could build you an acceptable gaming computer is a dangerous step. A limited market will mean developers will make less profit on software, and software makes or breaks new gaming technology. All of a sudden, you have a $600 screen that only works with a hand full of games. With so many other head mounted displays coming out soon like Valve and HTC’s Vive or Playstation VR, Oculus is going to have to fight against accessibility and better technology to cut through and make it to Version 2.0. In the mean time, save your money.