Oculus Rift Price: ‘I handled messaging poorly,’ admits Luckey

Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey has accepted blame for the widespread disappointment over the unexpectedly high price of the Oculus Rift headset.

The Rift headset will cost $599, not far away from double the “roughly in that $350 ballpark” figure Luckey had floated at Oculus Connect in September.

Responding to questions during a Reddit AMA session late on Wednesday evening, Luckey said: “I handled the messaging poorly.”

He explained how the first mention of the $350 figure came at a time of frustration, as media outlets began reporting the Rift would cost $1,500, not taking into account that figure included a high-end PC rig that would be sold separately.

Effectively, he revealed, the internal plans were for a $599 price tag all along.

He wrote: “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.”

See also: How much does it cost to get your PC Oculus Rift ready?

He also apologised and said he and the Oculus team “did not do a good job of fixing” the perception that the $350 DK2 device and the consumer Rift would cost the same, despite the latter boasting far more advanced technology.

He added: “DK1 and DK2 cost a lot less – they used mostly off the shelf components.

They also had significantly fewer features (back of head tracking,

headphones, mic, removal facial interfaces, etc.) For Rift, we’re using

largely custom VR technology (eg. custom displays designed for VR) to

push the experience well beyond DK2 to the Crescent Bay level.”

Luckey also dodged multiple questions from Reddit users asking for a full breakdown of the cost, claiming it wouldn’t be fair to the firm’s manufacturing partners.

However, he did reveal the Facebook-owned firm is committed to bringing down the price for future iterations of the device.

He wrote: “[Oculus will] Continue working with GPU and CPU manufacturers to optimize for VR, thus

reducing the required hardware cost. Use economies of scale and the

passage of time to reduce the cost of good enough PC hardware. For the

average person, the PC is by far the biggest cost, not the headset – the

end goal is to make sure people can use the PC they already have in

most cases.”

The controversy over pricing has somewhat overshadowed what should have been a momentous day for Oculus.

The Rift headset will cost £499 in the UK, but, despite pre-orders opening on  Wednesday, we still don’t have a solid release date for the headset.

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The AMA session is ongoing and we’ll have more newsworthy excerpts should they arise.