It’s been a little over a month since the Oculus Rift VR HMDs started landing in consumer hands. The company has been plagued with hardware shortages and higher than expected initial demand. Many customers who ordered on day one, and even some Kickstarter backers, are still waiting for their shipment to arrive (including a friend of mine), but that’s not stopping Oculus from rolling out its retail plans.
Oculus announced today (opens in new tab) that starting this coming Saturday, May 7, Best Buy will be hosting public demonstrations of the Rift VR headset at 48 store locations around the country. The Rift demos will be part of Best Buy’s Intel Experience (opens in new tab) product showcase booths. Oculus said the demonstrations will have a few experiences to choose from. For a passive experience to get accustomed to VR, Oculus Dreamdeck will be available. If you want to experience something a little more active, you can explore the alien world of Farlands, or you can attempt to climb a mountain in The Climb.
Oculus said that there will be “extremely limited” number of Rifts available to purchase from Best Buy on May 7, but they will be available only from select locations. The company will also start selling the Rift through Microsoft's and Amazon's online stores at 9am PST on May 6.
Quantities will be limited from both of these stores too, but if you are still waiting for your pre-order, it might be worth a try. Oculus said that if you manage to buy a Rift before receiving a pre-ordered kit, you can let the company know that you have a Rift already and it will honor your pre-order bonus before the order is cancelled. The company said you won’t lose your place in line for Oculus Touch controllers, either.
Oculus has updated the Oculus Live application (opens in new tab) to include schedules for Rift demos. With the app, you can search for the store nearest to you that features a demo and schedule a timeslot up to one month in advance. Oculus said the app will also let you keep up to date with new locations as they are added. The company is starting with 48 stores, but it plans to roll out more locations throughout the summer.
Oculus plans to host demo locations like this all around the world in the future. The company said that locations in Canada and Europe will launch this fall.
However it shakes out, putting VR HMDs into retail stores so people can try them out is a wise move. We've said many times in these virtual pages that you have to see VR to believe it. It's a tough sell to ask someone to drop $600-800 on a VR HMD unless you've seen what it can do with your own eyes.