Palmer Luckey, the baby-faced 22-year-old founder of the virtual reality company Oculus VR who once floated to the cover of Time magazine, recently took to Reddit to participate in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session. Facebook-owned virtual reality company began first shipment of its inaugural headsets today while also accepting pre-orders on the Oculus Rift which was notoriously priced at $599, compared to the low-end estimate of $330 which Luckey stated during a developer conference in a few months ago.
AMA on Reddit starting now! https://t.co/7lzzToHang
— Palmer Luckey (@PalmerLuckey) January 7, 2016
Here’s are 5 things we learned from Palmer about the Oculus VR, the Rift, and the consumer VR industry… popcorn ready?
- Luckey defended not releasing pricing information early on, and apologized for the miscommunication announcing price in vacuum. Many of the users on Reddit AMA expressed concerns that the price inflation will alienate enthusiasts and potential enthusiasts because the VR product isn’t as feasible as one of its earlier developer kit was.
“Why was the messaging about price so poor? $599 is not in the ballpark of $350?”
The question was asked by Reddit user @codisms referring to a recent tweet made by Palmer Luckey where he mentioned that the price would be in the “ballpark” of last year’s $350 developer kit.
I handled the messaging poorly. Earlier last year, we started officially messaging that the Rift+Recommended spec PC would cost roughly $1500. That was around the time we committed to the path of prioritizing quality over cost, trying to make the best VR headset possible with current technology updates. In a September interview, during the Oculus Connect developer conference, I made the infamous “roughly in that $350 ballpark, but it will cost more than that” quote. As an explanation, not an excuse: during that time, many outlets were repeating the “Rift is $1500!” line, and I was frustrated by how many people thought that was the price of the headset itself. My answer was ill-prepared, and mentally, I was contrasting $349 with $1500, not our internal estimate that hovered close to $599 – that is why I said it was in roughly the same ballpark.
It is expensive, but for the $599 you spend, you get a lot more than spending $599 on pretty much any other consumer electronics devices – phones that cost $599 cost a fraction of that to make, same with mid-range TVs that cost $599. There are a lot of mainstream devices in that price-range, so as you have said, our failing was in communication, not just price.
- There’s going to be at least 100 games by the years end! Oculus VR plans to include 20 more from Oculus Studios, and will also put extra efforts into Oculus Research to release new features for the coming generation of devices and application. Luckey want VR to span beyond games, although presently, gaming is going to be a primary driver of PC VR and hence, the company will focus on enhancing the gaming experience first.
“How many games can we expect to have available to us by years end?” The question appeared among 25 initial questions posted in a megapost on self.Oculus thread on Reddit by user @skonezilla.
At least 100 – Over 20 Oculus Studios titles, many more 3rd party titles.
- “What accessories can we expect to see from Oculus for the Rift (replacement facial interface padding)?”
There are a range of accessories coming, and we’ll have a range of facial interfaces ourselves. Expect more news in the future. We have a lot going on in Oculus Research, some of which will make it into the next product, some of which will go into products even further down the road. VR is still advancing very rapidly, there will be some pretty huge technological shifts happening.
- Now there’s one question all of us want answered. “What was the decision behind the remote and what functionality can we expect from it.”
We designed the Oculus Remote to be simple and intuitive input device for navigating VR experiences, especially when a fully-featured gamepad doesn’t make sense. An example is Oculus Video on Gear VR, which can be explored with just with gaze and tap. The remote is also ideal for non-gamers who want to try VR but aren’t familiar with a gamepad. It is also a good fit for apps that are ported across from Gear VR to Rift.
- No more ballparks! Elsewhere in the AMA, one reddit user @GO_TRADE_MEN asked the ball park price of the controllers. Well, here’s what Palmer Luckey had to say.
Repeating my other answer, but no more ballparks from me for now. I learned my lesson – I usually try to underpromise and overdeliver, and I need to hold myself to that better in the future.