Oculus Rift gaming headset launch met with guarded optimism

Mar 29, 2016 | Biz/Tech



Phil Witmer

Reaction among tech insiders was mixed on Tuesday after the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset began shipping to the consumer market on Monday following years of anticipation.

While many have praised the California company’s accessible form of VR gaming, others are critical of a rollout that promises the more hyped titles, such as Insomniac’s Edge of Nowhere, at a later date.

Facebook acquired Oculus for $2 billion in 2014.

Attention has been drawn in particular to the Rift’s impracticality as household product, citing its $600 US price tag and the requirement of a high-end gaming PC that usually costs over $4,000 here in Canada.

Mashable editor Lance Ulanoff told Reuters Business that the premium pricing was most likely a measure to ensure that only customers with more advanced support hardware were able to access the Rift’s features.

“They actually priced it in such way to limit the audience, it’s a benchmark for entry into the club of enjoying virtual reality gaming,” said Ulanoff.

According to Rob Robson, Professor of PC Computer and Game Programming at Humber College, VR gaming itself is still in something of a trial period, as gamers have little to direct them towards objectives.

“You could be looking around with your headset on saying, ‘wow, look at the pretty birds’ and then someone in the game shoots you,” Robson told Humber News.

“You’ve got major issues. How do you get the player to look where they’re supposed to be looking?”

He also notes that the Rift is indeed a less practical purchase than its competitors, such as the forthcoming Sony Playstation VR, since those products are or will be ready-to-play out of the box.

Still, Robson believes that the Rift will eventually lead the way towards a future where VR gaming comprises 50 per cent of its industry in as little as five years.

“The time it takes for people to figure out how to properly use a machine gets smaller every time new technology is introduced,” said Robson.

Over Twitter, commentators shared reviews and their own thoughts on the Rift’s impact.