It’s the next-gen hardware equally capable of scaring gamers with a realistic guillotining and entrancing nonagenarians with idyllic pastures. But now, the team behind the all-conquering virtual reality headset, the Oculus Rift, are saying they want to make their product free.
In terms of price-points this is a fairly bold one, especially as the Oculus Rift is currently selling - as a developers kit only - at $300. Although there’s as of yet no firm plan on how to get the headset onto the heads of gamers, whilst speaking to Edge magazine Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe said he wants to go as cheap as possible:
“The lower the price point, the wider the audience,” said Iribe. “We have all kinds of fantasy ideas. We’d love it to be free one day, so how do we get it as close to free as possible? Obviously it won’t be that in the beginning. We’re targeting the $300 price point right now but there’s the potential that it could get much less expensive with a few different relationships and strategies.”
The Rift team have already proved to be an attractive proposition to investors, with an initial Kickstarter campaign raising $2.4m and subsequent private investment securing an additional $16m, but how this might translate to a free product is unclear.
Iribe said: “You can imagine if Microsoft and Sony can go out and subsidise consoles because there’s enough money to be made on software and other areas, then there’s the potential that this, in partnership, could get subsidised.”
“Let’s say there was some game you played in VR that everybody loved and everybody played and we made $100 a month – or even $10 a month – at some point the hardware’s cheap enough and we’re making enough that we could be giving away the headset.”
The Oculus Rift seems to make instant converts of anyone who experiences it first-hand (our own Andrew Walker was suitably impressed), but how exactly the product will be brought to market is a mystery.
Giving it away seems a little far-fetched, but given the right partnership (and games, let’s not forget we need some actual games for this thing), a subsidized model could be incredibly successful.