The Oculus Rift price and pre-orders launched earlier this week and the company had a couple surprises when pre-orders rolled out.
First, Oculus announced a wonderful surprise for Kickstarter backers. The company said that any person who backed the Oculus campaign for a DK1 Rift will receive their own retail Oculus Rift, free of charge. The second surprise wasn't so pleasant; the price of the Rift is higher than many people hoped for and expected, coming in at $599. Both of these announcements came as complete surprises (there were no leaks at all) and I had the chance to find out why.
I met Brendan Iribe, co-founder and CEO of Oculus, on the show floor at the Oculus booth at CES 2016, and he offered some insight into how the company pulled that off. Iribe told me that both decisions were made at the last possible moment. Oculus locked in the price just two days before the pre-order launch and the choice to give Kickstarter backers free retail hardware was made in the final days as well.
Iribe was very happy that these details didn't leak from the company ahead of time. He told me the easiest way to keep a secret is to not know the answer. Waiting until the last minute to finalize details prevented any kind of leaked information from leaving the company before it was time.
Iribe told me that he believed the company would have had to price the headset even higher, but Oculus worked until the final moments to figure out how it could be made at the most affordable price that the company could sustain.
Unfortunately, Iribe was ushered away quickly to meet with someone else, but not before I had the chance to ask how the higher-than-anticipated price has affected sales. He said that the pre-order rates have shown no indication that sales will be negatively impacted. He was very happy with the price point and is excited to see the hardware finally launch.