New info has emerged regarding the public availability of the Oculus Rift. Apparently a limited public beta is being planned for the virtual reality headset, scheduled to go live in select markets for becoming widely available for the general public. Unfortunately there's no specific date for the launch.
Both Tech Radar and VR Focus have received multiple confirmations from those close to the source that there will be a public beta for the Oculus Rift VR headset – one of the most highly anticipated gaming devices – with VR Focus writing...
“The news follows the recent revelation of Samsung’s Gear VR HMD, a collaboration with Oculus VR that will also see an initial launch in a limited capacity as the ‘Innovator Edition’. However, the Gear VR is expected to be available through traditional retail outlets while the consumer version of the Oculus Rift may only be available directly from Oculus VR, much like the development kits the company has made available thus far.”
I wasn't aware of the Samsung collaboration. You learn something new every day.
This news inevitably follows on the recent acquisition of Oculus by the mega-giant Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg and co., paid out $2 billion for Oculus, which subsequently caused Markus “Notch” Persson, the creator of Minecraft, to lash out and announce that he was canceling Minecraft for the Rift.
Ironically enough, it's now Persson's own company that seems to be up for grabs by a mega-corporation, with Microsoft swooping in to pick up the Minecraft creator for a breezy $2.5 billion.
Nevertheless, gaming is growing and expanding exponentially. The advent of virtual reality headsets in a usable and wearable space that actually entices and engages gamers is something that appears to herald a new way to experience and play games (or in the case of Facebook, experience consumer/social related interactive ventures). If the headset really is headed to beta next summer that could open up a nice gateway for skeptics to try their hand at the new device.
Funnily enough, one developer actually warned about the responsibilities that come with the VR gaming space; such as moderating how horror games are dealt with so as to avoid causing people with existing heart conditions from being scared to death, literally.
I would love to see more games like Radial-G made for the Rift, and depending on how well it's adopted by the public will ultimately determine how much support we'll see from developers and publishers.
Of course, a lot of the adoption rate success will depend on the price, and according to Tech Radar that Oculus VR co-founder Nate Mitchell has suggested that the price of the consumer Rift will vary between $199 and $399. That's a fairly significant drop from the rumored $399 price tag that had been floating around previously.
I suspect that the Facebook group would likely want to have a price hovering around the $250 mark. Of course, given how tight-lipped Facebook and Oculus have been regarding pricing and release windows, I wouldn't put much weight in the price range until something is made official.