Saturday 25 March 2017 News Updated at 01:03 PM IST
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Oculus cuts prices of its VR gear - Deccan Herald
Oculus cuts prices of its VR gear
Nick Wingfield, March 6, 2017, INYT
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DeccanHerald
Many obstacles stand between virtual reality and a mass audience, from a lack of great games to the ungainly tangle of cables that connect the 3-D headsets to the computers that power them. But the high price of high-end virtual reality systems may be the biggest hurdle of all, which is why one of the companies most invested in virtual reality - Facebook’s Oculus - has decided to sharply reduce the price of its product.

Recently, Oculus announced that it has dropped the price of a package featuring its Rift headset and Touch controllers, which allow players to use their hands inside virtual reality, by 25% to $598 from $798.

Oculus will also reduce the individual price of the Rift to $499 from $599 and Touch controllers to $99 from $199.’

Brendan Iribe, the leader of the Oculus group developing virtual reality products for personal computers, said the company had long intended to reduce prices on products as Oculus’ own manufacturing costs came down. Such cost reductions are common for games hardware as manufacturers reduce defects on assembly lines and volume discounts for parts kick in.

Iribe, who declined to give sales figures for Oculus Rift, said that so far the system had been purchased by early adopters and that making it less expensive would begin the process of taking it beyond an enthusiast audience.

"We certainly think this will help,” said Iribe, a cofounder of Oculus before it was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion.

Oculus is still far from the price levels that most consumers are willing to stomach. The Rift requires a powerful PC to run virtual reality games, which costs hundreds of dollars, bringing the total price for Oculus products and a computer to over $1,000, even after the price cuts. A company that has had better success in the early days of virtual reality is Sony, which recently announced that it had sold 915,000 of its PlayStation VR headsets in the roughly four months since it went on sale. The Sony headset is cheaper than that of its rivals and needs a PlayStation 4 game console, more than 53 million of which have been sold, rather than a PC.

In a blog post, Jason Rubin, an Oculus executive, acknowledged that console virtual reality headsets are outselling systems like Oculus that are based on PCs because of price. Still-cheaper headsets based on smartphones are selling even better, though they are less capable.

Oculus has less control over when a breakout virtual reality game will emerge that catapults its product to a wider audience. Many game developers have held back their investments in new virtual reality games because, with so few systems in use, their prospects for making money are low.

Rubin said that he could not predict whether this year’s lineup of virtual reality games would include the parallel of World of Warcraft or Grand Theft Auto, both huge hits for PCs and consoles, but he said that "with every new release, and with every new discovery, VR gets closer to finding its killer app.”


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