Oculus Rift Price: Will You Pay $600 for VR?

Is the price worth it?

After remaining a mystery for quite some time, Oculus VR has finally confirmed the price point for the consumer model of the Oculus Rift headset. Coming in at $600, the long awaited headset's price point has us all wondering: is this something that gamers or normal consumers would be willing to spend this much money on? Our editors have their own opinions on the matter and have weighed in on the question in the responses below.

But what are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!

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Peter Brown, Senior Reviews Editor

Now we know: at $600, Oculus Rift is really expensive! After years of talking about competitive pricing, and recent news that the headset would be subsidized (sold at a loss), the asking price definitely comes as a surprise. What it means for me: I won't buy Rift at launch. For that fact, I am disappointed, because I love many of the VR games that I've tried; EVE: Valkyrie, Chronos, and Edge of Nowhere, to name a few. Love, it seems, has a budget smaller than $600.

While I'm put off at the moment, I am not resigning my excitement for VR, because I don't think its--or Oculus'--longterm survival depends on Rift attaining mainstream success right out of the gate. Rift, and VR hardware in general, will become more affordable over time, and the games will improve as developers grow more familiar with the medium's constraints. For now, think of this version of Rift as a power-play for Oculus and Facebook; the sooner it gets to market, the sooner it's adopted by developers and users, however few. Any amount of market share is invaluable this early on, and will pay-off handsomely down the road for everyone involved when costs plummet.

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Tech is always expensive at first: Samsung's BD-P1000 blu-ray player cost $999.99 when it debuted in 2006. Now, a decade later, there are numerous Blu-Ray players priced below $100. A time will come when the average consumer can afford a high-end VR headset--we just need to wait a little longer. For now, Samsung's Gear VR headset (a product of its partnership with Oculus) is an excellent first-step into VR that's affordable at $200, and even though it's not the best-of-the-best, it still provides a bevy of great experiences. Even if I can't buy a Rift this year, I'm excited that Oculus has got the ball rolling, and can't wait to see how Sony and HTC react. My guess? PlayStation VR will be the cheapest option, but Oculus and HTC will find greater success given the number of VR games coming to PC, headset prices be damned.

Randolph Ramsay, Managing Editor

$600 is most definitely expensive for a game peripheral, especially one that has a limited supporting software library (and one that will be reliant on mods for the near future). But the Oculus--if it fulfills the promise of VR--can be much more than a simple peripheral. The potential (and actual) non-gaming applications for a VR headset are amazing, and it's where VR as a tech will find the strongest foothold for the general audience. $600 is way out of my price bracket for a games device, but for a piece of tech that can help me become a virtual tourist, or make me experience movies in a different way, or for impressive remote interactions with family and other loved ones across oceans? Well, that price tag isn't looking so steep.

Rob Crossley, Editor

This was inevitable. Games industry convention dictates that hardware manufacturers sell their consoles at terrifying losses and, over time, get a return on investment with software. Oculus VR doesn't have that same avenue to profit with the Rift. It won't get a royalty, like Sony and Microsoft does, each time a compatible game is sold. Its business plan, at least what I can make of it, doesn’t have the same flexibility that console manufacturers have.

So in terms of crude arithmetic, $600 is entirely understandable if Oculus VR and Facebook eventually want to make a business out of selling VR hardware. The problem is that from most customers' point of view, $600 is not an understandable price. I'd say it’s a reasonable budget for a new PC, but certainly too high for a console, and borderline ludicrous for a peripheral.

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The price will certainly calm down over time (I assume right now it's immensely difficult to create efficient production lines on a completely new device), but I doubt Oculus Rift will be affordable enough to break into the mainstream for a least three or four years, if that.

Sony, of course, has a business plan where it can afford to make much bigger losses on hardware, and a games platform it can leverage to generate profit. I find it ironic that, for the virtual reality industry to remain relevant and in the minds of gamers, Oculus needs Sony to significantly undercut its price.

Mike Mahardy, Editor

I'm excited for VR. I'm a believer. I think by the end of 2017, it could be a contender in the living room platform lineup.

But $600 is too much. It reminds me of the PS3's initial price point in 2006--not obscenely high, but just high enough to deter me from making the purchase at launch. Even as someone whose job revolves around video games, I'm not ready to make that expensive leap. VR's main obstacle is public awareness, and without a manageable price point, I can't imagine the wider public jumping at the gun to grab headsets, and start building their VR game libraries as we wade into 2016. I think VR is here to stay. By the end of 2017, I hope it's a contender in the living room platform lineup. But I don't think a $600 launch price is a good start. Here's hoping the future brings better things for those of us who want VR to flourish.

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Alexa Ray Correia, Editor

I think fellow editor Scott Butterworth put it best when we were discussing it this morning: nerds like us will be all, "ehh, okay, maybe" about it, while most consumers definitely won't be into it. $600 is too high; that's double the cost of any console on the market right now, and that doesn't even include the hand controls coming later. The higher side of $500, I think, is effectively a turn-off for consumers. These companies making VR technology are talking about making consumer-grade products, talking about making VR sets that will be at home in the living room. You can't make VR widely popular and widely successful if the price isn't friendly to the normal, every-day middle-class don't-have-piles-of-money-to-burn consumer.

From here, it's anybody's game. Sony, Microsoft, Valve, they all have to come in with a price point below $600 to win. They were all afraid to announce first, and Oculus lost this round.

Eddie Makuch, News Editor

We always knew that the first Oculus Rift consumer model would be pricey--new technology basically always is. But when Oculus VR announced a specific dollar amount on Wednesday--$600--it solidified my decision to wait until price comes down before jumping in. I play more games on console these days and would undoubtedly also need to upgrade my PC rig to run VR, raising the cost of entry even higher. I don't plan to buy a Rift right away. Instead, the PlayStation VR--which is powered by a PlayStation 4 I already own--seems to me to be the more attractive option.

Danny O'Dwyer, Host/Producer

There's nothing shocking about today's price announcement. In fact, if anything I'm relieved it doesn't cost more. Many of us had held out dreams of a surprisingly low price point, but that was never likely to be a reality. $600 is the price of early adoption. Or rather $690 once you add sales and taxes. It's the price of advancing technology. I'm sure they could have nerfed the technology to create a more palatable price point, but nobody who truly cares about the long term health of virtual reality wants that. The mass market may balk at this price, but it will find a market in tech hungry people around the world. These people will show it to their friends, talk about it with their colleagues, and act as the first wave of excited VR vanguards. Over time our expectations and the cost of this technology will find equilibrium, and more people will be willing to pay second time around. We never thought we'd spend so much on music players or mobile phones but eventually these technologies made their way into everyone's pockets. VR is happening, but this first wave isn't for all of us. It's for those with the deepest wells of cash and desire.

What do you think of the announced price for Oculus Rift? Will you be buying one, or are you waiting until the price drops? Sound off in the comments below!

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