When the Oculus Rift hit Kickstarter in 2012, nobody really knew what to expect. Virtual reality was a fairly new phenomenon and the technologies around it were still in their infancy. The Oculus Rift has taken its sweet time in going from an idea that would revolutionize tech to whispers in the dark corners of the tech world and finally, after a deal with Facebook in 2014 that met with mixed reactions, a product that consumers could watch as it slowly made its way to commercial availability. Recently, pre-orders for the device finally hit the floor. Tons of fans and techies had their credit cards at the ready until they saw the price. The Oculus Rift, originally given a ballpark price of $350, was finally available for a whopping $599. For most, even the device that promised to be the premier VR platform of the decade wasn’t worth what amounts to a month’s rent for some. A good number of irate would-be buyers took to their various internet soapboxes, from blogs to social media, to give Oculus and the internet a piece of their minds in regards to the sticker shock.
Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus, took to Reddit to address the public. After a rousing conversation that capped off in a question of how Oculus handled the public’s expectations, Luckey admitted that Oculus had “handled the messaging poorly.” With early developer kits in the $300 to $350 range and rumors pegging the consumer version upward of $1,000, Luckey eventually came forward early on with the $350 figure and warned that it could change and would likely be a little bit higher. To most consumers, $249 did not constitute a little bit higher and did not sit well.
Finally, Luckey explained his logic. “As an explanation, not an excuse: during that time, many outlets were repeating the ‘Rift is $1500!’ line, and I was frustrated by how many people thought that was the price of the headset itself,” He was referring to the cost of the Rift and a compatible PC, it would seem. “My answer was ill-prepared, and mentally, I was contrasting $349 with $1,500, not our internal estimate that hovered close to $599 — that is why I said it was in roughly the same ballpark.” Somewhat satisfied, Reddit users went on to ask about the upcoming controllers for the Oculus, the oddly shaped Oculus Touch controllers. When asked about the price, he balked, saying “No more ballparks for now, I have learned my lesson.”