Facebook subsidiary Oculus, once the king of VR startups and a bonafide Kickstarter darling, is now cutting the price of its Rift virtual reality headset by a full $200 — from $800 to $600 for the full kit — in the hopes of overcoming what can only be described as a steady downward spiral. The permanent 25% discount on the Rift is the company’s apparent answer to reports from around the industry citing how badly its own headset is performing in comparison to its primary competitors.
Both HTC with its Vive VR headset and Sony’s PlayStation VR are handily outpacing sales of the Oculus Rift according to every analyst and insider, and Sony’s recent announcement that it is rapidly closing on an impressive one million PSVR sales has undoubtedly lit a fire under Oculus and their Facebook overlords.
Oculus had such a massive head start in the race to virtual reality supremacy that it’s absurd the company is even in this situation to begin with. After hitting a home run on Kickstarter and becoming the first household name in VR, Oculus was purchased by Facebook for a whopping $3 billion. It took the company another two years before it actually released its headset at retail, and by that time HTC’s Vive headset was gaining lots and lots of support.
The Vive’s day one support for motion control and full room-scale VR left Oculus flailing, and a messy DRM situation caused developer and consumer backlash that the Rift never fully recovered from. Today, Oculus is seen by much of the VR community as being behind in both technology and mindshare, and developer support is clearly in the Vive’s favor. Meanwhile, Sony’s PSVR is proving that console gamers are into virtual reality, too, and it’s eating into the Rift’s potential market as well. Put simply, things aren’t looking great for Oculus, and a $200 price drop on the Rift is just a symptom of the company’s much, much larger problem, which is making consumers actually want the thing in the first place.