Oculus is dropping the price of its Rift virtual reality headset and Touch controller bundle to $598, the company announced today. That’s $200 less than what the Rift and Touch controllers originally cost when they were released last year.
Oculus says the company is cutting the price of the Rift headset and Touch controllers — to $499 and $99, respectively — in an effort to reach a broader, more price-conscious audience.
“We’ve given hundreds of thousands of demos, and at the end of every demo we give out a survey,” Jason Rubin, VP of content at Oculus, told Polygon in an interview this week. “All the surveys say ‘This is awesome. I want to buy VR.’ The vast majority of people are blown away; those that don’t buy, the number one reason they don’t buy is price.
“By dropping the price we think we aggressively push VR forward.”
Rubin said he believes there are “two major things” Oculus can do to push VR to a wider audience: being aggressive on price and bringing compelling software to the platform. Rubin said he believes the software content is there for Rift, with “a ton” more coming, but that bringing price down was crucial to VR’s success.
“We now believe we have a content portfolio and ecosystem that is worth buying,” he said, “and if we have more users buying more software, that’s more dollars going to developers. We have more developers getting more dollars, they’re making more software, which attracts new users. That virtuous cycle is what kicks VR into the future.”
Rubin also noted that the drop in PC hardware costs means that buying a Rift-ready computer and Oculus hardware is a much cheaper proposition for new adopters.
I asked Rubin how much of an impact the $100 price drops on the Rift and the Touch controllers would have on Oculus’ bottom line, and whether the company was any closer to making a profit on the hardware itself. Rubin wouldn’t talk about how much money Oculus was making or losing on hardware sales, but said the new lower prices are “sustainable” for the company.
“We’ve been pretty clear from the beginning that making money on the hardware is not the business that we’re in,” Rubin said. “A lot has gone on in the last year. We didn’t have Hans Hartmann who became our COO, who came from Fitbit, who understood how to drive price down …
“But we are very comfortable with the new price point and we believe it’s a sustainable price point. We’re not doing something crazy. We’ve been working on this for the better part of the year knowing that things tend to come down annually.”
Rubin also couldn’t disclose sales of the Rift, but noted Oculus is “very comfortable with where we are today.”
As for VR-curious gamers who are holding out for a new generation of Rift hardware, it sounds like those late adopters will have to wait a little longer.
“There is going to be a group that waits for a long time [to invest in VR],” Rubin said. “We’re not going to get to a billion users in 2017 or 2018. Our goal is the incremental user, but not all users. Absolutely there are a lot of people that won’t buy VR for a long time.
“But we think we have a good stretch of people to address, that this [price drop] addresses.”