So the big news yesterday, I suppose, was the opening of the Occulus Rift pre-orders and how much the unit costs.
The magic number is $599… plus sales tax (varies by location, but for me it adds up to $50) and $30 shipping. Call it a round $680.
For that sum… which is more than a PlayStation 4 and a couple games… or more that a Wii U and every good game for the platform… you will get:
- the headset
- a head-tracking camera
- an Xbox One controller
- the Oculus remote
- the cables to hook it up, a spiffy carrying case, and two included games: space shooter
- the game Eve Valkyrie, a cool space shooter
- the game Lucky’s Tale, a platformer
Of course various forums on the internet exploded with unhappy reactions to that price point. (Though, if you backed the Kickstarter at the right level, you were probably pretty happy. Good for you if you backed it at the right time.)
Personally, I wasn’t all that shocked by the price point despite past price estimates. (Though clearly many felt otherwise.) I’ve done hardware projects before. This is the first run of the hardware, this new hardware has to be very good to get people to accept VR as more than a gimmick, the hardware itself is unique and complex (as noted by the team, as they apologize for the price yet again), and they have to hand a bit of money to the software devs for the bundled items. It was going to be a big ticket item. Likely, a year or two from now there will be a cost reduced version with a more efficient manufacturing process and likely no controller or remote for less.
Which doesn’t mean that I am going to run out and pre-order. I played EVE Valkyrie at EVE Vegas and it looked really good… but not $680 good. I was actually a little worried that CCP was going to try to extract a bit more money from people with the EVE Valkyrie Founder Pack they started talking about yesterday, but that appears to be included with the pre-order.
We’ll see when that becomes an extra-cost option, but for now it is just another incentive to pre-order today.
Of course, $680 might not be the only expense you’ll incur getting into virtual reality. Your computer also has to be up to snuff with the following requirements:
- Video Card NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD R9 290 equivalent or greater
- CPU Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
- Memory 8GB+ RAM
- Video Output Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
- USB Ports 3x USB 3.0 ports plus 1x USB 2.0 port
- OS Windows 7 SP1 64 bit or newer
I happen to be in luck for most of those requirements. When my power supply zapped my computer, taking out most everything directly connected to it, I ended up getting an Intel i5-4590 for the replacement. I am also good on the operating system, RAM, and USB ports.
The video card though, there I come up short. A quick search on nVidia GTX 970 shows that to be a $300+ investment which, with sales tax and shipping, puts the whole bill for playing EVE Valkyrie past the $1,000 mark for me.
That is way too rich for my blood, even if I can use it with Elite: Dangerous as well.
That price, for all the loud complaints it has yielded, doesn’t seem to be hurting the popularity of the pre-orders. The quote at the top of the post is unironically true in its own way. I saw somebody from the team state that they sold more in the first ten minutes than they thought would go in the first hour. Meanwhile, later in the day, I saw somebody a bit annoyed that the ship date on their pre-order was slated for June, the queue presumably having eaten up all the March, April, and May dates.
For me though, the VR experience will likely be limited to the Google Cardboard set that the guy in the cube across from me has for some time to come.