Eventually, virtual reality might actually become even better than plain old, crusty dusty regular reality, but that day is still quite a ways off. Problems range from motion sickness to a jarring inability to put saddles on ant lions and feed them apples while telling them all of our secrets, but mainly there is the issue of money. Reality – minus taxes, living expenses, and everything else you’ll ever work to earn in your entire life – is free. Oculus Rift, meanwhile, will probably run you somewhere in the realm of $300. Actually, you know what? Maybe virtual reality is already better. But even so, the mighty void conjurers at Oculus want to take price tags out of the equation entirely.
Speaking with Edge during Develop, CEO Brendan Iribe explained:
“The lower the price point, the wider the audience. 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.”
“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 goal, then, is to ultimately give the gift of Oculus Rift away for free, and the company’s apparently thinking about the logistics “all the time”.
I certainly can’t complain about a company wanting to hand out a rather remarkable product for zero million moneydollars, but I do wonder how much this is an immediate aim versus a pie-in-the-furthest-reaches-of-space pipe dream. Time will tell. For now, though, I suggest more manageable short-term goals: for instance, subsidizing my plan to glue increasingly ridiculous mounds of googly eyes to the front of my friends’ Rifts and create the most successful YouTube channel of all time.