Yesterday Oculus Rift announced the US price and launch date of their much anticipated forthcoming headset. Shipping from the 28th March, 2016, you'll soon be able to enter the first generation of consumer VR devices for U.S.$599.99. New technology always creates a buzz, but the overwhelming online feedback has been one of dismay at the price. Yes, it costs roughly $100 more than expected, but of all the feedback, it's surprising to see how many hardcore gamers and journalists seem to be taken aback, with the internet now rife with complaints and moaning. What did everyone think it would cost? On what comparisons are judgements being made.
For the last few years gaming technology has taken slower steps forward, with the XBox One and PS4 both largely underwhelming in their performance. Forever the issue of low or fluctuating framerate or finding that balance between framerate and attempting to push a new level in visual fidelity. Rather than taking a risk of making a console with a small initial income, or increasing the price for a bigger technical leap they've played it safe. So people will moan about performance but it's what they've asked for. It's like saying I want a £100K Aston Martin but I'm only willing to pay £10K for it, something has got to go. But Aston Martin is not a mass market car, and in the same way Oculus Rift is not a mass market product right now. It's a stepping stone towards the future developments that it could potentially unlock.
So the car analogy might not work for everyone, let's look at gamers. Back in the 1980's and 1990's we would regularly pay the equivalent of £700 for a new games console and when 16 bit cartridges came to the fore, we'd pay the modern equivalent of £100+ per game. But none of this mattered because we knew what we were buying into. We weren't just buying the console, there's the R&D to consider plus we were spending more on the system while the format holders were making next to nothing on hardware. We didn't moan about the price because we knew the score, instead gamers were grateful for the experience provided.