In today’s Internet-oriented society, game developers can’t sneeze without someone getting wind of it and taking it to Reddit. This week’s unfortunate soul was Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus and designer of the Oculus Rift.
In a storm of rage, Redditors took to the forums to complain about the new price point for the Rift – almost $200 more than previously “promised.”
The Rift will sell for $599.99USD as opposed to a previous ballpark estimate of $350. Included with the VR headset is an Xbox One controller for various games (which a lot of users will already own). Here’s what some redditors had to say:
- “There’s no convincing the wife now… :(” -u/wilburwalnut
- “Over $1100 for Australians. Count me out.” -u/xactfoxy
- “‘No chance of pre-orders selling out.’ No shit. Not with a price like that.” -u/Ricky_L7
- “Americans can virtually watch their lives fall into financial ruin.” -u/dr_pavel_im_cia_
- “‘In the ballpark of $349’. About as close to the ballpark as MY F***ING ARSE.” -u/TehDragonGuy
The comments bustled with complaints about price points, the included Xbox One controller adding $50 of unnecessary value, the price to get computers to recommended specs, and an uncanny amount of ballpark jokes were made.
In a damage control AMA, Palmer Luckey joined the forums and answered the cry of internet agony. Unfortunately, by the time I got to the subreddit, a “mega-post” that had served as an answer to all questions was deleted by the site. However, Palmer re-posted many of his answers.
When it came to the AMA Redditors had calmed down and instead of strictly whining about the price started asking the real questions: WHY was the price so far off?
Palmer had this to say:
“Earlier last year, we started officially messaging that the Rift+Recommended spec PC would cost roughly $1500. Many outlets picked the story up as “Rift will cost $1500!” 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.
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.
To be fair to Palmer, he did say roughly when he made his ballpark estimate. This more recent quote confirms that he simply wasn’t thinking straight when he decided to put that price point on the machine. $600 truly is a lot closer to $350 than it is to $1500.
Palmer should’ve thought before he ballparked his estimate. Rather than comparing $350 to $1500 he should’ve stuck closer to the internal estimate of around $500. Something happened and he made a mistake. He is human after all.
The biggest problem here is the transparency companies like Oculus have to work with. Palmer could have come out with it in his September interview and said a ballpark figure of $600. Would that have made editors happy? Probably not.
Developers are expected to keep secrets, but not too many secrets, about their products. While the price point is a pretty touchy topic when it comes to products like Rift, full transparency might have turned a lot of people away.
Sure, there are precautions Oculus could have taken to avoid this outrage, but the company will recover. Virtual reality is a radical idea and, although everyone seems to be doing it, will be difficult to get started. Once Oculus gets on their way, the pricing will come down just like any electronic equipment. Everyone just needs to take a breath and see what else Oculus Rift brings to the table.
Despite the pricing outrage, the headsets are still selling like wildfire. Rift is available for pre-order on Oculus’ website and costs $599.99USD. The first shipment of headsets goes out on March 28th.