The lights are on
The Oculus Rift is poised to change the way we experience gaming, and company CEO Brandon Iribe wants to make sure as many people get to experience it as possible. The virtual reality headset is now only available as at $300 devkit, but in the future, that cost could come down if the relationships are right.
In a conversation with Edge, Iribe cites the model that Sony and Microsoft use for selling consoles. Hardware is typically a loss leader (a product sold at or below cost to incentivize sales of other, more profitable items). Software licensing is how platform holders recuperate the gap.
The Oculus Rift could go down the same path if the right players are involved. “Let’s say there was some game you played in VR that everybody loved and everybody played and we made $100 a month – or even $10 a month – at some point the hardware’s cheap enough and we’re making enough that we could be giving away the headset,” Iribe explained.
Our TakeWill the Oculus Rift ever be free? I would be shocked if that came to pass. However, a subsidy that allowed the headset to be a loss leader is conceivable. We've already seen a number of experimental uses for the Rift, and the new HD model I tested at E3 blew me away.
$300 is steep for many gamers, but slashing that price by half or two-thirds makes it much more feasible for many. Buy in from Sony, Microsoft, and publishers that feature prominently on PC (especially in the realm of subscription and smartly monetized free-to-play titles) would make this possible.
Once retail kits are available, they need to be at retail for potential customers to experience. The Oculus Rift is a device that can't accurately be communicated with words. It must be experienced.