Oculus says that getting the Rift into “broad retail around the world” is going to be critical to the success of the Rift headset and VR in general. The company plans to have a retail presence starting in April.

A good old fashioned virtual reality demo is the surest way to not only show people what VR is, but get them to believe in the technology. But this of course poses a major problem to marketing VR systems like the Rift. VR is extremely hard to explain with the written or spoken word, and even photos and video don’t fare much better (though we think this one does a better job than most). This makes it difficult to market to new VR users through traditional mass-media channels.

oculus rift carrying case (6)
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To tackle this problem, Oculus plans to have the Rift in retail spaces for people to have a place to try the high-end VR headset for the first time. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey confirmed plans for a Rift retail presence last year, and now the company says that we’ll first see it appear starting in April.

“Virtual reality is a very experiential product and experience, it’s something that you really have to see to believe—like you did [to the host]—you’re maybe a little skeptical before, you’ve heard of VR in the past and it hasn’t really worked, but now it does and it works in an incredible way, but you have to see it to really believe it,” Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe told CNBC. “And we feel like once you see it, you’re gonna want it. So getting it into… broad retail around the world is going to be very important to the success of VR and to the success of Oculus and the Rift, and we’re working on that as we speak. We’re going to be in retail starting in April.”

The Oculus Rift became available for pre-order on January 6th, and while a deluge of early-adopter have backordered the headset by four months, Oculus still has a challenge ahead to convince the mainstream that the $600 headset is worth their attention.

Audi VR experience advanced setup - 3
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There’s no word on which retail partners Oculus will be working with just yet, but in the U.S. one suspect is Best Buy, the country’s largest consumer electronics chain. Samsung, who worked with Oculus on the mobile Gear VR headset, rolled demo headsets out to stores across the country. Given the partnership between the companies, and Samsung’s experience selling inside of Best Buy, it seems a likely route for Oculus to pursue.

The question remains whether or not Oculus will show their still-in-development Touch controllers as part of the retail demo stations. The controllers really complete the VR experience by adding natural interactivity, but the company says the controllers won’t ship until the second half of 2016. Leaving Touch out of the demo would not show the platform’s full potential, but including them could be a let down if consumers have to wait to buy them later in the year.

Competitor HTC has been spreading the word of VR and their HTC Vive system by means of a touring truck which has been making stops at events across the U.S. and beyond. Given the room-scale nature of the Vive system, it’s unclear how readily they’ll be able to convince retailers to give up precious shelf-space for in-store demo stations.

  • Al

    While anecdotal (i.e. conversation with manager), there may be good chances that the HTC Vive (and PlaystationVR – edit) will be available through EB Games in Canada on (or shortly) after release.

    Will there be demo space? Most of these stores are fairly small so probably not – at least not room ones.

  • Rafał Kun

    so.. my preorder will be sent on May and the shop will have it on April?

    • Thiago Braga

      Maybe they will have in small quantities? Maybe they will stack up with already preorders? who knows.. . . can retail presence be more like testing stations?

  • dashmaul

    People who pre order now, get the Rift shipped in July.
    What would be the point of pre ordering Rifts from now on, when you can buy a unit in retail somewhere come April?
    How does this work exactly?

    • Robert Jenkins

      it didnt say it would be for sale. If you read the article it says demos. it’s going to be in a retail store for someone to try out to see if they like it. It is not going to be for sale. It may be in an IKEA and let people place furniture in virtual homes. Or it could be in gamestop letting people play luckys tale and eve valkyrie.

      • Maria da Cunha

        People may try but they can not buy? I do not think this is good! Because everything has to be so hard?

        • Kegufu

          Palmer did say there would be some Rifts in retail in April for sale, just in a very limited amount.

          • Maria da Cunha

            “Limited”? Does not make sense!It looks like they want to make it very difficult! And this has gone on for too many years!

        • Robert Jenkins

          Thats a good thing. This means people will get it and realize its a legitimate thing and then go online to buy it. Any good sales associate will help someone set up an oculus account and order one.

          • Mexor

            But would a retailer give up space in their store to demo something they can’t make a sale on? If there was no online ordering possible then they might because customers would pre-order with the retail outlet. But if they can get it just as soon online as in retail the retailer will lose a lots of sales that they helped make.
            Seems like a hard sell for Oculus.

      • JoeD

        More than likely, like most companies, they have a specified number of units that will be delivered to retail that are set apart from the units that were pre-ordered.

      • Please not Gamestop. Those idiots get in 10 units for 500 customers and never seem to make plans to restock. Best Buy always nails the units to consumers ratio. I’ve been to many launch day events, and getting something at Best Buy is always a good bet. I’m not entirely sure those college kids that work at Gamestop don’t just buy units from their company and sell them on Ebay for a profit…

  • Robert Jenkins

    If anyone is confused they do not mean that the rift will be for sale in the stores come april. It is referring to demo units being available in stores in order to create a retail presence. giving people a reason to want to buy one by letting them use it.

    • Thiago Braga

      We need a tweet on this just to be sure lol That’s what I’m thinking, they’re not for selling. If this means that you can buy them I see people cancelling their preorders on the fly and ranting all over the webs

  • mckirkus

    No way they’re going to sell it in stores before the pre-orders ship. These will be demo kiosks, probably with the ability to pre-order/get-in-line after demos complete. This headline is really vague and implies you’ll be able to buy one in stores.

    • Sebastien Mathieu

      agreed!!

      • CaptJellico

        Uh, yeah right! I seem to recall similar dialogues before when Palmer Luckey indicated the price would be in the “ballpark” of $350, that people were saying, ‘No way they’re going to be more than $400 – $450 dollars…’

        I guess we’ll see what we’ll see. I was going to pre-order, but then I thought I’d rather get it from Best Buy or (hopefully) Costco when are released in retail. Save the $50 shipping fee ($50 to ship… friggin seriously?!), and get the ability to return it if it breaks or I don’t like it within the first couple of months.

        • Jesse Thomas

          It is not a $50 shipping charge to the east coast. Only $30….which is still ridiculous.

          • nathan

            if you ordered later then a month ago shipping and tax is free due to the delay. got a email 2 weeks ago stating that.

          • Jesse Thomas

            Yeah, I know…I just got my updated shipping info…late July. BS

          • nathan

            same here july 24th to august 4th for me

  • Joel Barsotti

    Best but doesn’t give floor space to things they don’t sell. If they are in retail stores they will be for sale.

    But how many units?
    How often will the units be restocked?
    EVE: Valkyrie is a pre-order bonus, so no bundled EVE?

    If you really care how soon you get your rift, this is just another vector to get one earlier. Anyone upset by that just needs to learn how to play the game better.

    • James Hargis

      Wrong. Manufactures will pay for floor space all the time. They sign contracts that guarantee they will get a floor display for X number of days. Even if the item isn’t selling.

  • Jim

    Selling retail before pre-orders ship is not unprecedented. I pre-ordered the original Pebble watch and ended up getting it at Best Buy instead. I remember many peeps were ticked off about that. Somewhere along the line they need to stop calling it “pre-order” and make it just plain order with a wait that may not beat the product offering at retail. As for me….I’m ready for my end of March shipment!!!!! Since I sold my DK2 at a ridiculous price I ended up trading straight across for the CV1. Supply and demand on my side for once!!

    • This should be easy.. as it is a pre-order.. canceling should be no problem… so if any of you see the oculus selling somewhere nearby, just buy it asap and cancel your online order…. I sure will do if I see it seeling somewhere as my original date is June.

  • Tim Suetens

    What the fuck? I pre-ordered and got June as ship date!

    • Sebastien Mathieu

      I think I will be on stores just for demoing…. (anyway hope so:-)

  • Maria da Cunha

    And the retail includes Europe ??? In April ???? And Best Buy will also sell outside the US? Many questions still unanswered!

  • Dennis van der Pool

    This is what Microsoft did with my XBOX ONE pre-order. I pre-ordered it as one of the first. Cancelled it after continuous delays and reduction in what would be delivered, one epic fail after the other. Last thing I saw was people carrying XBOX ONE day one editions with all the stuff I pre-orderedd in retail store (MediaMarkt) but got told it wasn’t available anymore… Got a PS4 and actually happy it happened afterwards. Now sticking with Sony after this incident.

    • Sebastien Mathieu

      So , what are you doing on this forum???

      • Dennis van der Pool

        Just missed Oculus Rift Kickstarter, pre-ordered DK1 & DK2 as one of the very first and now waiting for my Rift March delivery. What I meant is that it would really be destructive to sell retail while people who pre-ordered are still waiting. (if they would do that).

        • Maria da Cunha

          I do not think this would be a problem! People can cancel your order and buy in the store!

          • Dennis van der Pool

            Yeah, that’s true. I just thought that pre-order means you’re one the first the receive product, but that probably only applies to the online orders.

    • Dharma Galaxy
  • Enverex

    This article is wrong. You will not be able to buy them in stores on their own, only as a package with an Oculus certified PC. See my exchange with Oculus here when I specifically asked them about it – https://www.reddit.com/r/oculus/comments/41eevt/status_of_oculus_support_ticket_responses_11716/cz1txmj

    I imagine they’ll start shipping them standalone to stores once the preorder backlog is emptied.

  • That CNBC Source is from 6. January. They confirmed april several times already, however no details in which form that availability is supposed to be.

  • Adrian G

    The article clearly states that this is only to have a ‘retail presence… for people to try the high end gear for the first time.’ My rift ships in April, and I’m definitely keeping my pre-order. Can’t wait!

  • Pearson Smith

    dang, I may just have to cancel my pre-order if I get my hands on one in April.

  • Dharma Galaxy

    Um….I think I ought to bet against this whole way of doing VR on the betting sites. THe basic reality is either you make a reality or it is uncanny valley. I’ll stick with cartoon sex until further notice.

  • Maria da Cunha

    Rift in USA: $499. / United Kingdom: £499 (= $713,276) / Order Total: £ 529,00. (=$756,158) ?????? This is a robbery!

  • Charles

    “old fashioned virtual reality” Isn’t that an oxymoron?

  • Leo Richard Comerford

    So, is this still slated to happen? There will be unhappy pre-orderers if it does.