Ever since Facebook purchased Oculus VR back in 2014 it was clear the company was playing the long-game when it came to their strategy in the VR marketplace. Rather than rush to deliver a product or clamor to release as many games and apps as possible, the Oculus Home marketplace is a more finely curated “walled garden” approach. In terms of consistent quality it’s definitely working.
Earlier this week Oculus dropped a bomb shell on the market when they announced that their flagship VR headset, the Oculus Rift, would be part of their ongoing “Summer of Rift” promotion by dropping the price for a Rift with Touch and all of its free software down to just $399 for six weeks. That’s the same price as a standalone PSVR headset (without the required camera or the recommended Move controllers) which makes high-powered PC VR more accessible than ever before, especially when compared to the twice as expensive $799 HTC Vive room-scale setup.
The Rift first launched back in the first half of 2016, over a full year ago, and the Touch controllers didn’t hit shelves until December. Nevertheless, Oculus has come out to say that almost all Rift owners have also purchased the Touch controllers. In this way, they’ve slowly built up their user base and content catalog in such a way that, when you consider the sale, it’s hard to notrecommend someone purchase a headset at this point.
“People online and in general are starting to say positive things that weren’t really said over the last 90 days,” said Rubin during a phone interview last week. “Now you can broaden that out to a larger audience that isn’t an early adopter and may not understand the nuance. We feel really really good about the content we’ve released and a lot of the things that are coming soon.”
With the Rift and Vive both coming up on being a year and a half old at this point and a solid list of releases for both headsets so far this year despite the E3 absence, things are looking good for the budding VR market right now.
“We are entering into a period in which VR is gonna shift to its second gear,” explained Rubin. “The strategy of content investment is paying off. If you look at the last 90 days the community is clearly saying that price, content investment, and content quality does matter, as we have always been saying.”
What exactly that second gear looks like remains to be seen, but hopefully it points to a strong finish on the year and a big CES and GDC 2018 for all hardware manufacturers and software developers.