Oculus Rift Could Have Subsidized Cost, Maybe Free

Edge Magazine reports that Oculus VR is hoping that the Oculus Rift headset will offered free at the point of purchase if the company finds the correct business model. Oculus VR CEO Brandan Iribe revealed this interesting tidbit of news during the Develop In Brighton 2013 event last week as the team was showcasing a new Oculus Rift HD prototype.

“The lower the price point, the wider the audience,” Iribe told the magazine. “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."

One of those strategies could be a subsidized structure where customers would pay a small fee up front and make payments on the device over the course of one or two years. That would help offset the total cost for customers who can't afford $300 up front. It would also mean a wider audience for Oculus VR and the developers supporting the Rift specs.

"You can imagine if Microsoft and Sony can go out and subsidize 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 subsidized," he said. "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."

Right now the Oculus Rift is only available as a $300 dev kit, and so far it's unclear how the VR headset will be offered to consumers when it launches next year. That means the team still has plenty of time to toss around ideas on how to get Rift into the hands of as many gamers as possible.

"We’re not there yet, but we’re sitting there thinking all the time, how can we make this free? You want everybody to play it and the cheaper it is, the more people are going to go out and buy it," he said.

Free is good, but the $300 price tag is worth every penny in my book.

  • icemunk
    $300 is affordable, but I the idea of pay per month, or free would bring a huge audience, especially if they can get some awesome content to go along with it. Bring on the HD retail version and you'll have my $300.
  • Someone Somewhere
    Maybe do a deal with some stores along the lines of 'buy 5 games and we give you one'?
  • Spencer Castillo
    "You want everybody to play it and the cheaper it is, the more people are going to go out and buy it,"

    I wish microsoft and sony are like this
  • everygamer
    I would say worry less about a subsidized model, just keep working on the technology to the point that it gets mass produced. This will drive the cost down. If they then can get Microsoft or Sony or both to support the device on console's it will open it up as a peripheral to a much larger audience.

    I think the end goal should be the widest platform support, this will drive up the size of audience and then bring down cost. If the Rift 10 years from now is a $50 peripheral for PC's and Consoles it will be cheep enough to be a mass market product.
  • everygamer
    "Maybe do a deal with some stores along the lines of 'buy 5 games and we give you one'?" the margin on 5 games is not going to be enough to cover the cost of the hardware for a retail Rift.

    When they say subsidize, it means that someone else is paying for the Rift. For a model like that to work, the Rift has to generate sales somewhere else to off set that cost.

    Sony lost $1 billon a year when the PS3 was released to reduce its cost, because they knew in the long run it would help them win the HD format war (blueray vs HD DVD) and they would make that money back later in hardware licensing and media sales.
  • internetlad
    collect 100 game UPCs and we'll send you one for free lol
  • whiteodian
    $300 is very reasonable considering Sony is charging more than double that for their head mounted display. I drove about 70 miles to demo the Sony head mounted display and decided it was not worth the money they were asking. It was difficult to track what was going on during the game (I played Sonic the hedgehog). Movies looked ok. I would definitely want to demo the Oculus prior to plunking down the money.
  • SirGCal
    The windows version of Kinetic 2 is reported to be $400, so the much more useful IMHO Rift for $300 is a deal and one I'd jump on. Bring it! The Rift is unique and IMHO, does it right.

    Still wish it was faster refresh that it was but overall going to be sweet for the masses and I'll use it till my migraine triggers. (I have visual sensitivities and migraines at 60Hz after 30-40 minutes, special setups of 120Hz or more to prevent it. IF they did that, I'd do $300, even at their current lower resolution, without question, no problem.).
  • Adam Freeman
    This is PC gaming not some stupid cell phone company shit, pay to play is dead on PC why do it with equipment also? $300 dollars for good kit on a computer is nothing.
  • loosescrews
    Those who can't afford the whole cost up front can put it on their credit card. Subsidies just drive the total cost of ownership up for everyone (see cell phone plans.)