There is one question everyone at Oculus Connect is asking each other — at least after they ask where Palmer Luckey is — and that’s the sales numbers of the Oculus Rift itself. Is the hardware doing well? Has Oculus sold a million units? Maybe “only” 100,000? No one has has any idea, nor do they even feel like they’re in a solid place to speculate.
I spoke with Nate Mitchell, Oculus’ VP of product, and asked when the company could begin to be more transparent about sales numbers and the size of the market.
“That’s a good question!” he said. He then spent around 30 seconds taking a long swig of water from the bottles located around the table before settling on an answer.
“I would say that we’re far, far from being saturated,” Mitchell stated. “In the next year, with Touch and min spec and the content that’s coming, we’re going to see a tremendous number of people get into Rift and PC VR, in a big way. I’m pretty confident of that.”
Oculus has always been willing to speak, at least in broad terms, of the success of Gear VR.
“We talk about how we’ve had a million people using the device in April ... but Gear is doing super well,” he continued. “I think developers have seen that and feel that in the ecosystem. I think overall, we’ve always said VR is going to start small and grow into something huge and tremendous, and I do think that’s the path we’re on.”
What’s important is that the base grows, that more people get into VR and experience what it can offer. And Mitchell thinks that Oculus has the tools to make that happen.
“I’m very excited about the min spec announcements, Touch launch coming, because I do think you’re going to see another deluge of people come into VR that are beyond the VR enthusiasts and potentially the gamers — we fit into both of these categories — into a broader audience.”
Oculus was able to lower the PC specifications for a good experience on the Rift due to an addition to the software development kit called “asynchronous spacewarp,” which deals with dropped frames and allows the player to see a comfortable frame rate in-game. It’s a neat trick that means you will soon be able to buy an Oculus-ready PC for as little as $500.
But the question was about sales numbers of the hardware itself. Do you think the company will release solid numbers in the next year?
“We may, absolutely,” Mitchell said, pointing out that Oculus sometimes gives numbers for Gear VR, but hasn’t yet at all for Rift. “Don’t rule it out.”