We’re only a few hours into CES 2016 and virtual reality has already stolen the show. Not only did HTC reveal its overhauled Vive headset, but Oculus announced that Rift pre-orders will go live on January 6 and some early Kickstarter backers will be getting one for free. One problem: we still don’t have a price.
Ever since the first developer kit was unveiled, we’ve been trying to guess what a ticket to Oculus’ virtual will be. The outlook has changed over the course of the last two years, with Facebook buying Oculus VR, the reveal of the Touch controllers, and the recent announcement that said controllers won’t actually launch until later in the year.
But the value proposition of virtual reality remains the same – so what would you pay for it?
We expect Oculus to announce the price when pre-orders go live. Until then, here’s what we think the final cost might be.
Dave James – Home Entertainment Editor
I’m expecting the final consumer versions to come with a higher price tag than the initial devkits, because, y’know, capitalism. But also because the Rift is going to demand one hell of a beefy gaming rig – and a graphics card not far off that price – to get the most out of it.
I’m more likely to go for the Rift over the Vive for the simple fact that I’m a Brit and as such don’t have a living room big enough for me to flail around in without breaking stuff.
Cameron Faulkner – Assistant Editor
I’m hoping for something cheaper, but based on the beefy VR-ready system requirements provided by Nvidia, the Rift will likely be just another pricey component to add onto your already expensive PC rig.
It’s hard to say yet whether the Rift will be more affordable than HTC and Valve’s Vive, but I’m willing to wager on it. Looking back, HTC has mentioned publicly that it intends on making Vive the most “premium VR experience” around. And with added tech, like the front-facing camera, it will likely be the more expensive option.
Even so, I’m not sure that a price difference would be enough to make me settle for the Rift. I’m just too excited for the possibility of Half-Life 3 on the Vive.
Marc Chacksfield – Content Team Lead
I reckon £350 – the price of a next-gen console, but the price will go up with the amount of games bundled. Whatever the price, HTC and Sony will definitely take note and price their hardware accordingly.
Matt Hanson – How To Editor
Palmer Luckey has been preparing us for the announcement that the first version at least will be pretty pricey – a recent tweet said: “Reminder of something I have talked about before: VR will become something everyone wants before it becomes something everyone can afford.”
So yeah I think it will be about the same price as getting a decent TV. Any less is unlikely for this first version, any more and it will seriously hamper adoption.
For the record I think the PlayStation VR has the best shot at this if Sony prices it well, with a pretty large PS4 user base now.
Kane Fulton – Computing Editor
Nvidia has started the VR-Ready scheme which stipulates that a GTX 970 is minimum spec. A GTX 970 pre-built PC costs about £700, and Brenden Iribe stated that a PC and Oculus Rift shouldn’t cost you more than $1,500 (£1,000, AU$2,000) total. Therefore, £300.
Salwa Azar – Social Media Editor
Although I love the idea, I’m not in any hurry to jump the VR bandwagon until it proves it is all that was promised. I tried Oculus early on in its development and even then I was impressed, but the undoubtedly high price tag will make it a secondary concern for me. I’ll see what the feedback on the retail version is like, and then maybe reconsider.
John McCann – Phones and Tablets Deputy Editor
I think we could be surprised with a lower-than-expected price tag as Oculus looks to put Rift on as many heads as possible. Then it can focus on making money from software and games.
Anh Tuan Huynh – Auto Editor
Retail units are usually cheaper than dev units. Facebook can afford to sell at minimal or no profit to get more people to adopt and get their cut off the Oculus store software purchases.
Hugh Langley – Associate Editor
I’m a bit optimistic, but I do think the fact that Facebook now owns Oculus VR means the company has the luxury of selling a cheaper headset. Now that the tech is (almost) ready, it comes down to the software – and that’s where Facebook is going to rake in the big bucks. Just think: Zuckerberg is probably already building his own Metaverse.
Joe Osborne – Senior Editor
I’m putting my bet on no more than $349, because it can’t be priced much higher than current gaming consoles and other hardware. That’s especially because Sony will be in a better position to undercut all the rest, given that it already has a huge base that can use its headset out of the box. (Also, Facebook can shore up any money lost on its cut of app sales.)
Patrick Goss – Global Editor in Chief
That’s about the price of a high-end smartphone with a decent screen, so I won’t be surprised if the Rift costs at least that much.
Jita Mitra – Video Producer
VR headsets make my eyes/head hurt if I wear them too long. And a bit sick. They need some work. So whatever the price – it’s that many pounds/dollars too much right now.
Matt Swider – Mobile Devices Editor
I’m hoping that the Oculus Rift price will be $299. That’s how much the original DK1 kit cost, and DK2 wasn’t much more at $349. Take note: many virtual reality novices will have to upgrade their PC to run the headset, so the new Oculus won’t be your only expensive investment.