With the Oculus Rift’s seemingly high $599 price tag coming as quite a surprise to the VR community, one might be tempted to think that it would put a major dent in pre-orders. Indications from Oculus suggest it may only be a vocal minority who have been turned off by the cost.
At a Dell hosted event at CES 2016, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey and Dell’s Frank Azor took to a small stage to talk about the future of VR and how it would impact the computing industry. In addition to Azor talking up Dell’s commitment to VR going forward, Luckey seemed quite enthusiastic about pre-orders for the Rift.
“Pre-orders are going much better than I ever could have possibly expected,” said Luckey. “There are a lot of people who are getting into virtual reality that I think are not even necessarily the gamers who have been waiting; they’re just hearing about it now or hearing about it recently and they’re convinced enough to pre-order. Hopefully they’re convinced enough to actually use it.”
Luckey also told Polygon, “I can’t talk about numbers, but we sold through in 10 minutes what I thought we were going to sell through in a few hours.” An Oculus representative told me separately that people at the company were “all smiles” regarding the performance of pre-orders.
After a long journey from a 2012 Kickstarter, Oculus finally put the hotly anticipated Rift up for pre-order this week on January 6th. Based on a predominantly negative reaction and lots of discussion from the VR community, the $599 price tag landed higher than Oculus had set the expectation, but this may not have put much of a dent in the headset’s sales after all.
Late last year, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Oculus parent company Facebook, set initial VR headset expectations relatively low during an earnings call.
“So we’ve said often that we think that virtual reality and augmented reality could be the next big computing platform. But just to put that in perspective and compare it to the development of previous computing platforms, like phones and computers, I think the first smartphones came out in 2003,” Zuckerberg said in response to a question posed by a representative from USB. “And in the first year, I think BlackBerry and Palm Treo were the initial smartphones that came out. I think they each sold in the hundreds of thousands of units. So just to kind of give a sense of the time frame that we’re thinking about this and how we expect this to develop, that’s how we’re thinking about that.”
We don’t expect Oculus to share any specific pre-order figures unless they’re truly exceptional, as that info will be of competitive nature until the company’s two major competitors (HTC Vive and PlayStation VR) give their own prices and take pre-orders.