When Oculus VR announced the consumer Rift earlier this year, the company had mentioned that pre-orders would start late in 2015 ahead of the headset's Q1 2016 launch. Today the company's founder shed some light on the lack of an official pre-order announcement, saying we can now expect them to start soon after the new year. More importantly, the Oculus Rift's release window is still on track.
The Oculus Rift isn't the only big virtual reality headset launching soon, but it's probably the highest profile one – and based on our hands-on demos, it may have the most impressive array of content.
Today a pair of tweets from founder Palmer Luckey confirmed that the Q1 2016 target is still on track and that Oculus will give would-be buyers ample heads-up to pre-order the Rift soon after the new year:
That means PC-based VR will be here no later than the end of March, and that the Rift will enter market at least slightly earlier than the (also PC-based) HTC Vive, which is scheduled for an April launch.
We still don't know pricing info, but you can expect the consumer Oculus Rift to cost more than $350 – and the PC required to power it will cost you significantly more than that. This May, Oculus revealed the recommended specs for the Rift, and it will require high-end (though not highest-end) parts like GPU and processor to maintain a consistent 90 fps while running two 1,200 x 1,080 displays (the per-eye resolution of the consumer Rift).
Oculus did announce an "Oculus Ready" program this September, for gamers who don't want to build their own PC. Ready-made computers with this logo on it are certified to meet or exceed the Rift's minimum spec – allowing less tech-savvy VR enthusiasts to enjoy Oculus' virtual worlds with minimal know-how or research.
Oculus says the PCs will launch at a variety of price points, with some coming in under $1,000.
Whatever the Rift ends up costing, you'll be getting more than just the headset with your purchase. In addition to the positional sensor which tracks body movement, it will include an Xbox One controller and a copy of MMO space shooter Eve: Valkyrie.
The company's Oculus Touch (below), a pair of wireless controllers that "give you hands" inside virtual worlds, will launch sometime after the Rift, in the first half of 2016. While the Xbox One controller will be great for third-person games, the Touch controllers are the ideal tool for developers creating first-person experiences. Its buttons and sensors correspond not just to your hand movement, but also to natural gripping gestures – so you won't have to learn controls for things like picking up a weapon and firing it; just move your fingers as you would in real life and the virtual world will mirror that.
In a separate blog post, Oculus announced that it's shipping the final Rift headset to developers ahead of the consumer launch. Devs just getting started can still use a Rift DK2 (development kit 2), but those putting the final touches on games set to launch alongside the Rift in Q1 can get their hands on the finished product to help dot their i's and cross their t's.
CES 2016 starts soon after the new year, with thousands of journalists and other folks in the tech industry swarming into Sin City from all over the world (we'll be there as usual). We're just speculating, but that could be an ideal venue for Oculus to tell us more. Stay tuned.