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Multiple Signs Point To December Release For Oculus Touch

Oculus announced that it would be revealing details about Touch during Oculus Connect 3, and we speculated that the announcement indicated a possible November or December launch for Touch. We now have reason to believe it may really be December.

The Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive are similar products that can transport you into virtual worlds and trick your brain into believing that you are really experiencing what your eyes are seeing. They are both impressive devices, but the Vive offers motion controls, which are a huge advantage in many games and can bring you even further into the experience.

Oculus announced its own motion controllers, called Touch, more than a year ago when it revealed the Rift CV1 to the world. Since day one, Oculus had said that the Touch controllers would not ship with the Rift, but we originally expected the company to complement Rift with 6-degrees of freedom controllers in the first half of 2016. At the end of 2015, Oculus revealed that it had pushed the Touch launch window back to the “second half of 2016.” Since then, Oculus has continually said Touch would ship this year, but company representatives have been vague about the timeline.

During E3 2016, Oculus showcased a number of Touch games and announced that the hand-tracked peripherals were still on track for a 2016 release and that more than 30 games would accompany the controllers before the year’s end. Still, there was no indication of when Touch would finally see the light of day.

Our first indication that Touch would land in the fourth quarter came in mid-June when Oculus announced the Oculus Connect 3 conference. Oculus revealed that it would have “lots more to share about Touch” during the event, which will take place between October 5 and 7 in San Jose, CA. If Oculus is waiting until OC3 to talk details about Touch, it makes sense that the hand controllers would launch sometime after the event. Even if pre-orders for Touch open during Oculus Connect, which is entirely possibly considering the Rift pre-orders started during CES, the parts are not likely to be ready to ship on day one. We now expect a December launch date for Touch.  

On August 1, Reddit user ThatVRGuy posted a single image with the caption, “So close I can Touch them (found at local best buy).” The image in question was of a pair of Oculus Touch motion controllers on a wooden display. A sign that says “Available Winter 2016” accompanied the controllers. We reached out to ThatVRGuy and he provided us with the address of the store to verify the image is real. A quick call to the Best Buy at the Southbridge Shopping Center in Arden, NC, confirmed that the display is real, but the Touch controllers in the display are mockups.

We didn’t expect the Touch controllers to be working examples. The date on the sign is what interests us. Winter 2016 isn’t exactly a clear launch date, and it could be a placeholder, but it does lend credence to our assumption of a late 2016 launch date. Winter doesn’t officially start until December 21. Touch might not be under many Christmas trees this year.

A single display with a vague launch date is hardly concrete information, but Oculus somewhat inadvertently reinforced this theory. The company uploaded product pages for some upcoming games, and there is at least one Touch game on that list. Ripcoil, which appears to be a cross between the Tron light disk game and Pong, is the first Touch game that we know of with a specific launch month. It will be out in December 2016.

Now, take all of this with a grain of salt. Oculus has not made any official announcements about the Touch release. Best Buy may very well be getting the Touch controllers in late December, but that doesn’t mean that Oculus won’t sell them directly before you can pick them up at retail. Similarly, Oculus announced 30 “release window” games, not 30 release day games. Touch could ship well before Ripcoil hits the Oculus Store.

Kevin Carbotte is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews of graphics cards and virtual reality hardware.