By Isaiah Houghton
What should have been a slam dunk for the world of Virtual Reality has dropped the ball, with pre-orders for the new VR headset Oculus Rift being delayed for months. After headsets began to be shipped in late March, some customers have found that their orders have been pushed back, with new orders estimated to be shipped in August. Coupled along with the surprisingly high pricetag of $599, a direct competitor in the HTC Vive, and a controversial decision to sell the headsets at locations such as Best Buy before pre-orders have shipped, things do not bode well for the future of the Rift.
The Oculus Rift was proposed on the crowd funding website Kickstarter in 2012, advertised as “the first truly immersive virtual reality headset for video games”. The campaign proved to be very successful, raising $2.5 million dollars. Later in 2014, Oculus was purchased by Facebook for $2 billion dollars. Fast forward to now, the highly anticipated virtual reality headset has officially come out, and it’s release has been marred by it’s unfortunate pre-order delays that are due to component shortages. Additionally, the Rift has also come out to mixed reviews, with major problems being it’s steep price tag of $599 plus a higher end PC, as well as being somewhat uncomfortable to wear. Although some estimates cite a shipping date for many affected users being in August, Oculus itself has not given out dates for how long the units will be delayed for. Oculus says that affected customers will get an updated shipping date April 12th, and that they will cover the shipping cost.
Facebook CEO and entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg has said that “VR is going to be the most social platform,” and it’s easy to see why. While many may first think of the possible applications in games and movies, the potential for the Oculus Rift and virtual reality as a whole to become the newest social phenomenon is a tangible possibility, especially with Facebook at the helm. The platform allows for a near infinite amount of programs and experiences for the consumer, limited only by the imagination of those who develop it. “When you wear it, you can see something like the real world, and you can do anything you want in the world you can see,” said North Eugene student Sheng Liu, a transfer student from China. “I have already read about VR, and it was about a dad who didn’t know how to care for their baby, so he practiced in the VR. I think if we can use some technology like that to solve our problems, that’s really good.”
However, if VR wants to evolve from a niche product to a integral part of the multimedia landscape, it can’t afford to stumble like it has with the Rift’s launch.