The Oculus Touch VR controller will ship in the first half of 2016, says founder Palmer Luckey. The units will be available for pre-order at the same time as the Oculus Rift.
After revealing the Oculus Touch ‘Half Moon’ prototype on stage at the company’s ‘Step into the Rift’ event earlier today, founder Palmer Luckey tweets that the controllers will launch in the 1st half of 2016. Pre-orders for Oculus Touch will open alongside the Oculus Rift, which itself will ship in Q1 2016, according to the company.
Although not direct confirmation, this seems to make it clear that the Rift headset and Touch controllers will be separate products, not sold together. Instead, Oculus has opted to include an Xbox One controller with each Rift headset.
The choice is likely a combination of product development timelines being somewhat mismatched between the headset and the controller, and also a desire to keep the Rift headset at a reasonable starting cost, while the Oculus Touch controllers may add a few hundred dollars to the price (though the cost for either remains unconfirmed).
While there are pros and cons either way, developers may not be entirely happy about the decision to not bundle the headset and VR-specific controllers together. Devs working with the Samsung Gear VR headset have expressed concern over the fact that they can’t rely on all users having a gamepad, as the headset is only optionally bundled with one. That means developers can only be sure that Gear VR users have access to the more limited touchpad on the side of the headset. The choice to build a game targeting just the controller therefore becomes difficult as developers of course would like to see their game or experience sold as widely as possible.
The issue is not one unique to Oculus, it’s the same for any company introducing a new peripheral, and it poses a difficult ‘chicken and egg’ problem—developers need to make content for the devices to get users to buy, but users need compelling content for the devices before they will be compelled to do so.
However, the company is on the right track tackling the very same problem for the Rift headset itself. Although taken for granted at this point by many that the headset will find a substantial user base, it’s still an unanswered question, and one that was frequently raised, especially in the early days of the headset.