Facebook Slashes Oculus Price For Second Time As World Refuses To Adopt Virtual Reality

In the aftermath of the collapse of the "wearables" craze, Virtual Reality was supposed to be next big thing.

Back in 2014, when Facebook paid $3 billion to acquire Oculus, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the time that the medium, which offers a 360-degree panoramic view through headsets, would "become a part of daily life for billions of people."

That has not happened, although as Reuters notes it is unclear if that is because of high prices, something inherent in the technology or some other reason (incidentally, two years ago we suggested that for a fully immersive experience the existing hardware of most computer users would have to be upgraded, a bottleneck which has clearly proven insurmountable for the time being).

Perplexed by the lack of adoption - and hoping the solution is the high cost - Mark Zuckerberg has decided to slash the price of its Oculus Rift VR headset for the second time this year, and for the next six weeks, Facebook’s Oculus VR unit will charge $399 for the Rift, Touch motion controllers and some games. Previously, that bundle cost $598, already $200 discount from their combined launch prices.

The cut matches the price of another virtual reality set, Sony PlayStation's VR, which will likely be cut even further as the industry tries to figure out why the technology for immersive games and stories has not taken off.

According to Facebook's Jason Rubin, head of content at Oculus, the average number of Rift headsets sold each week went up after the first price cut. He said the company is lowering the price again to capitalize on a significant increase in recent months of the number of games and apps for the device. There are more than 700 today, up from roughly 400 in March. “Now is the time to be pushing consumers into the product because they’ll find exciting things to do,” he said.

Of course, now that the deflationary mindset has set in, consumer may simply wait until the next inevitable price cut for a unit that is meant to be a loss-leader.

The price cut comes as Oculus faces mounting competition from HTC Corp. and Sony. Sales of headsets powered by smartphones have far outsold heavier-duty devices such as the Rift. And Oculus also has grappled with internal problems, resulting in the departure of co-founder Palmer Luckey in late March.

While Oculus hasn’t disclosed sales for the Rift, analysts quoted by the WSJ say it continues to trail its rivals by a wide margin. Research firm IDC estimates the device has sold about 520,000 units world-wide to date, compared with 770,000 of HTC’s Vive headsets and 1.6 million PlayStation VR headsets. Facebook said it has provided more than $250 million in funding to developers to drive more content for the Rift. The social-media company said it plans to dole out $250 million more over an undisclosed period. At this point, memories of the ill-fated Google Glass come to mind.

Meanwhile, as the WSJ adds, virtual reality still doesn’t have a breakout hit game or app, though, something analysts say is critical for broadening its appeal. As sales of VR units have faltered, some tech companies have shifted their focus in recent months to VR’s cousin, augmented reality.

For now Facebook is not giving up: at its annual developer conference in April, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said the company would make its augmented-reality tools available to third parties. It is also developing its own augmented-reality glasses.

Whether or not it succeeds, remains to be seen: for most people the non-virtual reality of the real world has been challenging enough. As a result, for now at least VR remains relegated to the punchline section of tech comedies.


MillionDollarButter Fish Gone Bad Mon, 07/10/2017 - 11:40 Permalink

Oculus Rift can't compete with Vive.Vive has precise tracking, so most of their titles allow you move around like you're on a holodeck.Oculus has shit for tracking so nearly all of their titles are played sitting.Oculus has tried everything to skew the playing field short of making better tracking. (Exclusives, PR campaign, etc.)If you're not going with Vive, you might as well have one of those Phone VR adapters, but this is not VR.  VR that isn't room-scale is just shit, a glorified viewmaster.If you do have Vive, you will probably be less likely to be a WALL-e Axiom dweller as evidenced here:https://vrscout.com/news/losing-weight-vr-htc-vive-workout/

In reply to by Fish Gone Bad

tmosley eforce Mon, 07/10/2017 - 11:42 Permalink

VR is too limited in that it only substitutes two senses. If you try to walk around in VR, you are going to have a bad time. That disconnect is what is holding back VR for now.The only way to overcome that that I can see is to bring in full dive VR. The next step from there gets really interesting.

In reply to by eforce

Ilmarinen hedgeless_horseman Mon, 07/10/2017 - 10:51 Permalink

I don't disagree with you, but should point out that most VR games/"experiences" require you to be standing in a large, open space and to move around quite a bit.  Since you're making very deliberate motions/poses and holding them for a little while, it amounts to quite a workout (especially when compared to sitdown movies/games).A family member recently dropped the $2k (CAD) needed to get one of these systems going - a lot of my preconceptions about it turned out to be wrong.  Setting my contempt for Zuckerberg aside, I think it's impressive technology that will eventually become commonplace.

In reply to by hedgeless_horseman

CPL Iconoclast421 Mon, 07/10/2017 - 10:17 Permalink

Pardon.  ASIC chips are dirt fucking cheap and if anyone of these dipshits programmed assembler it wouldn't fucking matter.   They would rather feel along the wall in the dark groping for the fucking light switch rather than stop to PLAN the technology.  It's the worst type of engineering, they are lazy.  Just like all the other present commercial solutions on the market offer gross bloat on hardware that is dirt cheap. (cough apple,..cough microsoft...cough IBM...cough CGI the cock gobbler that enables it with shit tier engineering)

In reply to by Iconoclast421

CPL Mon, 07/10/2017 - 10:13 Permalink

This would be attempt number 17 at getting VR mainstream.  Here's the problem.  People don't want to walk around with something the size of a box of kleenex on their nose. It's not ready and the technology isn't there to make it accessible yet, especially if continuing to use AMD/Intel paradigms while ignoring the cheaper and superior ASIC chip space that's developed by proxy of BitCoin mining efforts.  Plus the API toolkits right now suck ass, they really do and are terrible additions to the Eng/IT space.  Seriously, don't any of these cocksuckers program in assembler anymore or are they all shitty engineers/dev people?

Shitonya Serfs CPL Mon, 07/10/2017 - 10:30 Permalink

As cool as the VR devices are (when you're inside), the fact that: 1) you look like a douche wearing them around grabbing at air or staring at the ceiling or floor; 2) the Biggest flaw, is others NOT being able to enjoy the experience without wearing their own device.

People want to see what you are doing, vs. watching you do something in a black box.

In reply to by CPL

CPL Shitonya Serfs Mon, 07/10/2017 - 11:06 Permalink

First time I played with a VR setup it all ran on two floppy disks, on a 7mhz processor and was about the size of an SUV in a cage.  It hasn't improved by much since then. Primary reason, as orthoganal as it seems, is the energy choice made.  120 years of only oil crippled the technology path that needed to happen in the 1950's to get to 'the next level'.  The fact is they are collectively behind scheduel with e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g by a single energy option.  This has very little to do with the application of the technology and is actually evidence of their incompetence and terrible skills at foresight and planning, not their lack in development.  It's obvious that the engineers are in collusion in making the rope to hang themselves, they really only have themselves to blame don't they?Shame on them for being cowards and the group I represent can't use cowards much in the same way no one would ever trust a monkey with nuclear technology.  It's just not remotely good enough and this is treated as symptomatic of larger problems you've made for yourselves.

In reply to by Shitonya Serfs

JuliaS CPL Mon, 07/10/2017 - 15:39 Permalink

Remember in the 90's when manufacturers were experimenting with exotic controllers - weird joysticks, mice and keyboards? None of them stuck around. Users reverted back to most primitive keyboards and mice. Why did none of the "power glove" utencils survive? Because they failed to offer advantage.VR, even if it is dirt cheap, even if every comptuer can run it, even if there is no latency, even if the arms are tracked perfectly, even if the cameras are designed to prevent motion sickness, even if every technical issue is resolved, one key problem - the device killer, will remain. VR offers no competitive advantage.Make someone play FPS with a conventional display/keyboard/mouse against someone in VR and you'll realize how much negative drag the virtual experience presents. The premise is freedom, but the reality is that VR is just a container - a concept full of constraints that do not exist with conventional form of media.To make things even worse, Oculus specifically has shot the entire VR market in the foot by choosing to ship with an X-Box controller. As a software developer you work for the lowest common denominator and for the prevalent system specs. Even as fully tracked controllers are now available, software makers have to assume that not eveyone has them. They have to cripple their products to meet the base line and satisfy every early adopter.Oculus spent too long in development and lessons could've been learned after 2+ years of solid SDK work and plentiful demos. If there was such a thing as a killer app, it would've been discovered. There is none and not going to be, until cables hook up straight into our brains and deliver all senses - not just an approximation of vision and sound.

In reply to by CPL

kellys_eye Mon, 07/10/2017 - 10:14 Permalink

Seriously?When every phone user can purchase a cardboard cutout version for 'pennies' to see what all the fuss is about they reckon $399+ will be the answer?

CPL Snaffew Mon, 07/10/2017 - 10:30 Permalink

Yet Apple is losing sales...so is samsung.  They are all losing sales to cheaper, faster, better chinese and indian phone makers that price to sell.  The 'first world' players overlook the primary idea fo business is actually to DO BUSINESS.  The phone makers aren't in any business but being part of the larger COMMUNIST REGIME of the central banks.  Also the the primary reason:  Everyone is broke and can't afford ANY options. People just aren't going to buy a third party gadget in a weak market place unless it's priced under 50 bucks.  Especially a doodad like VR.  This entire business is a unicorn marketplace selling vapourware that doesn't deliver.

In reply to by Snaffew

_triplesix_ CPL Mon, 07/10/2017 - 10:35 Permalink

Yep, I think I'm on my last smartphone.  I have a Google Pixel and pay less than $25 a month, so it's great in that sense, but knowing that everything I do is being logged, tracked, and sold is getting old.  Back to a flip phone for me in the very near future.

In reply to by CPL

CPL _triplesix_ Mon, 07/10/2017 - 14:11 Permalink

I have yet to actually buy one, I get handed a phone to drag around on gigs, but I won't buy one until I see a couple of proper developments take place.  Whoever offers those developments first will practically reinvent the entire paradigm of a planet and a solar system.  Not by the design choices or features, but by the derivative technologies that are developed by those options showing up.  As of yet no one has those developments or remotely near them because of poor decisions made 70 years ago.  Considering the characters and managers leading the shitty mess of the old business that believe they are entitled to anything less that being murdered with their families, that's a good thing they fucked up.Could you imagine if they actually had any real ability to produce something useful other than jew confetti and sucking jew cock?

In reply to by _triplesix_

Jballsquared Snaffew Mon, 07/10/2017 - 10:43 Permalink

Paid around 900 for my 6 two and a half years ago.
6 hours a day use (that's fuckin conservative)
6 cents an hour
Not really a big deal for a fucking miracle of universal communication.

Posted from my iPhone.

I did use my laptop a lot more prior to windows 10, which managed to shave my productivity about 80% with their endless stream of annoyances and buried features. Probably switching to Mac for that reason. Vista me once, shame on you...

In reply to by Snaffew

Twee Surgeon Snaffew Mon, 07/10/2017 - 14:49 Permalink

We have a long standing business account with Verizon, the contract usually lasts about 2 years and then we get to pick our choice of phones for about $1.$1 stinking federal reserve note. We switched from Apple to Samsung. Different flavors of a pain in the neck. Nice new phones,keep them away from your head or they will cook your brain like popcorn but they are a must have. The Bill comes off the Business end.Once upon a time people used to get paid to sit in an office and answer phone calls, those days are gone in many business formats.New phone every 2 years for a dollar. It's built into the bill. I have not even seen a phone bill in a decade,happily.

In reply to by Snaffew

Lizardking Mon, 07/10/2017 - 10:19 Permalink

VR acceptance similar to the adoption of electric vehicles and self driving cars. 50% discounts on those soon enough. Hype surrounding AI, electric, batteries, self driving tech, etc similar to the hype regarding peak oil when it was above $120 a barrel. Come back in 8 years and see where all these tech companies are trading. Except Apple, the hype is real with Apple and it's stock. Everything else smoke and mirrors.

j0nx Mon, 07/10/2017 - 10:20 Permalink

Their loss. DCS in VR with a good cockpit and control setup is the absolute closest you can get to piloting a helicopter or military jet without actually doing it.