As an emerging technology, Virtual Reality has not had it easy. Its hype as the next-big-thingpredates the modern internet (remember the virtual reality headsets that somehow made it possible to sequence the dinosaur genome in the original Jurassic Park movie? Yeah, it’s that old). As consumer technology, VR has never quite been able to bridge the gap from early adopter to household item. But that may be changing with the newly-released Oculus Go.
According to daily sales chart that we track via Amazon, the Oculus Go has been a consistent best-seller on Amazon since its release in early May, launching at spot number 5 on the videogame best-seller charts for all products in Amazon's "Video Games" category.
In fact, when it launched in early May, the Oculus took two spots (there are 32GB and 64GB versions) of the top ten in Amazon's Video-Game category, beating out such mass-sellers as gift cards.
Oculus Go is the little sibling to the Rift, which was released in 2016 and holds the title as the first major latter-day VR play success. Devices such as the Oculus Rift and the Go (both developed by Oculus VR, a subsidiary of the social media juggernaut Facebook) and the HTC Vive (developed by HTC) use stereoscopic screens inside a headset to create a three-dimensional virtual world in which users can watch immersive videos and play VR-enabled games (and perhaps one day sequence velociraptor DNA).
What makes the Oculus Go different — and attractive to a wider audience — is that unlike the Rift, which requires a cumbersome wired tether to a reasonably powerful gaming PC (not included), the Oculus Go is a completely standalone unit. There are no cables, no computers, no smartphone to awkwardly strap to your forehead. Everything (minus the hand controller) is contained in the headset, making journey into a virtual world as simple as putting on a pair of ski goggles. In other words, it’s a VR headset designed for everybody, not just for tech nerds.
And then there’s the price tag. Top-end VR setups like the Oculus Rift now retail for $399, and that’s not including the cost of the computer you need to run it (which could easily push the total system cost to well over $1000). Oculus Go retails for $199. That means VR is no longer a hardcore tech extravagance. What’s more, it’s easy to imagine buying an Oculus Go as a gift, say, for Father’s Day.
Based on some of the initial software titles, Oculus VR intends the Go to gain that sort of buy-one, gift-one ubiquity: The Oculus Rooms application is a virtual social space where you can watch movies or play games with friends who also have an Oculus or Samsung Gear setup. It’s the sort of virtual telepresence experience one would expect from a company owned by Facebook.
It’s also worth noting that the porn industry, that reliable bellwether of technological success, is reportedly bullish on the Oculus Go. This is important, because porn generates more traffic than Amazon, Netflix and Twitter combined. While the Oculus store does not allow pornographic content, many porn producers have bypassed that by producing Oculus-go-compatible sites. Naughty America reportedly launched an Oculus-Go-compatible site the day the Oculus Go headset went on sale. And as we learned from VHS, streaming media and the internet in general, establishing an early foothold in porn is good way to prevent going the way of Betamax.