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Oculus Rift price set at $599, shipping in March (update)

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Step into the game ... and bring your wallet

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The retail Oculus Rift will cost $599, Oculus VR announced today, and pre-orders for the virtual reality headset are now live on the company's website — although as you may have expected, a flood of traffic is making it difficult to load the site.

Pre-orders are available in 20 countries around the world, and are limited to one unit per customer. Oculus expects to start shipping the Rift on March 28, and plans to bring the headset to "limited locations at select retailers" in April, the company said in a blog post today. The Oculus Shop appears to be showing estimated ship dates depending on when you pre-order: Shortly after pre-orders went live at 11 a.m. ET, the website said the headset would ship in March, but it later began saying April and then May. Shipping costs $30 on top of the $599 price, which does not include sales tax.

The Rift will come with copies of Lucky's Tale, the platformer developed by Playful and published by Oculus Studios, and CCP Games' space dogfighting game, Eve: Valkyrie. It will also include an Xbox One wireless controller and the Oculus Remote; last week, Oculus delayed the handheld Oculus Touch controllers to the second half of 2016. Oculus said that more than 100 VR games, including Minecraft, will be available by the end of the year — including 20 Rift-exclusive titles from Oculus Studios.

Pre-order customers can reserve a spot in line for Oculus Touch pre-orders. (You can see an Oculus Touch demo below.) Oculus VR co-founder Palmer Luckey said yesterday that pre-orders require no deposit and that customers won't be charged until their headsets ship.

For reference, the original Kickstarter campaign for the Oculus Rift — back in August 2012 — offered the headset to backers at the $300 level. Oculus began selling a second-generation version, the Development Kit 2, in March 2014 for $350. Although the company has produced a few other prototypes since, the DK2 was the last one that was publicly available for purchase.

Oculus announced yesterday that all backers of the Oculus Rift Kickstarter who pledged for a development kit will receive a free "Kickstarter Edition" of the consumer version of the headset. The company is also offering a downloadable Rift compatibility tool for people to check if their Windows PC can support the Rift. Here are the system requirements:

  • Nvidia GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
  • Intel Core i5-4590 equivalent or greater
  • 8 GB+ RAM
  • HDMI 1.3 video output
  • three USB 3.0 ports and one USB 2.0 port
  • Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (64-bit) or newer

Similarly to the "GeForce GTX VR Ready" program that Nvidia announced yesterday, Oculus will be certifying gaming PCs as "Oculus Ready." Oculus says these computers will "have been tested by Oculus to ensure they deliver a great experience with Rift." Interested parties will be able to pre-order a $1,499 bundle with an Oculus Rift and an Oculus Ready PC starting in February.

Other companies are set to release competing VR headsets soon. Valve and HTC are set to launch the Vive headset in April, while Sony's PlayStation VR is scheduled to arrive for PlayStation 4 in the first half of the year.

Update: Palmer Luckey commented on the Rift's price on Twitter, saying that Oculus is "not making money on Rift hardware" at the $599 price point. "High end VR is expensive, but Rift is obscenely cheap for what it is," Luckey added.

Update 2: Oculus continues to sell through its pre-order stock — as of the evening of Jan. 6, the Oculus Shop said new orders wouldn't ship until June.