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Palmer Luckey Clarifies Why The Oculus Rift Costs So Much

Palmer Luckey has responded to confusion about the Oculus Rift’s final price through a Reddit AMA, as well as on Twitter.

“I handled the messaging poorly,” Luckey wrote. “In a September interview, during the Oculus Connect developer conference, I made the infamous “roughly in that $350 ballpark, but it will cost more than that” quote.”

Because the Developer Kit 2 model of the Oculus Rift cost $350, the popular assumption was that the final model’s price would be in the same range. Yesterday when the Oculus Rift became available for pre-sale, the final price of $599 was revealed.

“There are a lot of reasons we did not do a better job of prepping people who already have high end GPUs, legal, financial, competitive, and otherwise, but to be perfectly honest, our biggest failing was assuming we had been clear enough about setting expectations,” Luckey continued. “Another problem is that people looked at the much less advanced technology in DK2 for $350 and assumed the consumer Rift would cost a similar amount, an assumption that myself (and Oculus) did not do a good job of fixing. I apologize.”

In an interview with Ben Kuchera of Polygon yesterday, Luckey told Kuchera that the final model of the Oculus Rift is the result of a decision “to optimize quality over cost.”

In an effort to reduce latency and bring up refresh rates, the Oculus Rift underwent significant changes from the DK2 to the final model which will ship in March.

And despite the $599 price tag, it seems like Oculus is just aiming to break even.

“To be perfectly clear, we don’t make money on the Rift,” Luckey wrote on Reddit. “The core technology in the Rift is the main driver - two built-for-VR OLED displays with very high refresh rate and pixel density, a very precise tracking system, mechanical adjustment systems that must be lightweight, durable, and precise, and cutting-edge optics that are more complex to manufacture than many high end DSLR lenses.”

Bundled items like the Xbox One controller, and bundled games like Lucky’s Tale and EVE: Valkyrie, reportedly don’t add significantly to the final price of the headset.

“A lot of people wish we would sell a bundle without “useless extras” like high-end audio, a carrying case, the bundled games, etc, but those just don’t significantly impact the cost,” said Luckey.

The real price of the Oculus Rift will likely come in the high-end computer that will be necessary to play games on it, but Luckey says that in the long term, VR is not about playing video games.

“The majority of time spent right in Gear VR is video and experiences, not games,” he continued. “Over time, VR span beyond games, much like the evolution of computer and mobile platforms before it.”

On Twitter, Luckey’s words seem to have a little more fire (but maybe that’s just the 140-character limit). He reminded followers of a time when they were afraid that the Oculus Rift wouldn’t be technologically powerful enough for high-end gaming experiences.

Go off, Mr. Luckey.

Simone de Rochefort is a game journalist, writer, podcast host, and video producer who does a prolific amount of Stuff. You can find her on Twitter @doomquasar, and hear her weekly on tech podcast Rocket, as well as Pixelkin’s Gaming With the Moms podcast. You can always count on Simone to make it weird.
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Simone de Rochefort is a game journalist, writer, podcast host, and video producer who does a prolific amount of Stuff. You can find her on Twitter @doomquasar, and hear her weekly on tech podcast Rocket, as well as Pixelkin's Gaming With the Moms podcast. You can always count on Simone to make it weird.

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