What Oculus Rift’s Price Means for Players and Its VR Competition

With the Oculus Rift becoming available for pre-order today and subsequently revealing its price tag, there seems to be a mixed opinion as to whether the higher-than-expected cost reflects a good deal. Has it outpriced itself, or is it a pretty amazing deal for PC gamers keen to adopt VR?

When first staring upon the $599 price tag of the Oculus Rift, it may seem like the future of gaming is going to be a pretty pricey jump. After all, when Sony’s Andrew House came out and suggest that the PlayStation VR headset would be priced “as a new gaming platform”, most imagined close to a $400 figure. While this price tag is a bit of a shocker, in reality, Oculus could well be offering you a pretty sweet deal for your money.

After all, it’s not like you’re just getting the VR headset for $599. Instead, Oculus is throwing in an Xbox One controller, which currently cost about $50 over on Amazon, a microphone, Oculus Rift controller, Eve Valkyrie and Lucky’s Tale. While we don’t know just exactly how much Eve Valkyrie and Lucky’s Tale will offer in terms of content, having two games thrown in the box as a way of guaranteeing that every buyer has a means of trying out their new headset is a smart move. It also puts a bit of added pressure on HTC and Sony to work out a means of making their bundles seem just as competitive.

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However, what isn’t included in the $599 price tag is the cost of being Rift-ready. Unfortunately, unless you’ve got a pretty high spec rig, chances are you may have to spend a bit of extra money upgrading your graphics card. Now, my own gaming PC is no slouch and plays most games pretty well with a nice frame rate too, but when running the Oculus Rift Compatibility checker located here, my PC was deemed unfit for Rift. Checking out the recommended graphics cards suggests that an NVIDIA GTX 970 or AMD R9 290 at the bare minimum. Considering prices on both cards are near to, if not above the $300 mark, we begin to see the problem forming for the Rift and Vive.

When it comes to releasing its VR headset later this year, PlayStation has a bit of an upper hand. Yes, the PS VR headset will require an additional processing unit, but it will be included inside the box with the headset. And if Andrew House’s comments on pricing that we mentioned earlier are any indication, we’d be all ready to step into the virtual world for around the $400 mark. Though that figure is one that’s arisen out of sheer speculation and predictions from within the industry, the average price of  a brand new games console in recent years has been around this ballpark figure.

Now, not every PC gamer is going to have an issue when it comes to their PC’s compatibility with the upcoming VR headsets, but for those not on the very cusp of graphics cards, Oculus just added another $300 onto the cost of their headset successfully pushing it into the dizzying realms of $899. That’s not where the hidden extra costs stop either. While no way near on the same scale as the expense of upgrading your graphics card, the $599 price tag doesn’t include the tax and shipping of the product which is sure to knock it up a bit more although not enough to dissuade eager gamers from doubling down.

So while the Oculus Rift can definitely be considered a pretty hefty investment, this didn’t seem to stop it from selling like hot-cakes. If the first VR headset at this price can sell through its entire day one preorder stock in fourteen minutes, the industry certainly seems ready for the next generation in gaming. But, what does this mean for the HTC Vive? After all, its no secret that the Vive is the most ambitious of all the Virtual Reality headsets we’ve seen.

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HTC and Valve have introduced a Full Room Scale 360 Degree Solution with Tracked Controllers, letting you get up, walk around and explore your virtual space, inspect objects from every angle and truly interact with your surroundings. So with full room scale and tracked controllers being added into the mix with HTC Vive, the price is likely going to reflect such advanced technology. While there hasn’t been anything confirmed as of yet, players who were itching to grab themselves a Vive may be looking at an even heftier price tag if they want to become a part of the VR revolution.

When the dust has settled, does the Oculus Rift’s $599 price tag reflect a good deal? The answer depends entirely on your circumstances and preferences. If you’ve got a top-of-the-line gaming rig equipped with one of the latest graphics cards, and spend a lot of your gaming time on your PC, then the Oculus is looking like a pretty sweet deal with all of that bundled goodness. However, if you’ll need to do a couple upgrades to your PC, or perhaps are interested in one of the other headsets available later this year, it might be worthwhile holding off until more information is revealed. One thing is for sure though, unless Valve and HTC can really pull it out the bag, the Vive is going to be some seriously expensive tech.

What do you think of the Oculus Rift’s price tag? Have you guaranteed your ticket into the world of virtual reality? Let us know in the comments below.

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