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The Oculus Rift Launch is a Disaster

by Kyle Hanson

Oculus-Rift-Price

I, like millions of other gamers, have been excited at the prospect of VR gaming for years now. At the forefront of this excitement has always been Oculus Rift, which kicked off what many are calling the VR revolution with a seemingly tiny Kickstarter campaign back in 2012. Now, 4 years later the final, official launch day for the Oculus Rift has come…and gone. March 28th was the big day, and yet here we are two days later and literally only one person has received the product that they ordered, and it was hand delivered by Oculus founder Palmer Luckey himself.

Sure, a few other people got final versions of the Oculus Rift, but these have all been the free ones given out to Kickstarter backers. The rest of us, the ones who paid for the device, have been left in the dark, wondering when the magic of VR will actually arrive. A few days might not seem like a big deal, but when so much is riding on the success of this singular product, it is pretty important.

I say that this launch had to be perfect because Oculus has been saying the same thing for years. As I said, the original Kickstarter was all the way back in 2012. Since then we’ve had a second version of the developer kit, and a multitude of promises about the final, consumer version of the device. As the wait for the Oculus Rift grew longer and longer, the messaging shifted to how important it was that VR be good-to-go right out of the gate.

This makes sense, this isn’t the first time VR has made a run at gamers after all. Throughout the 80’s and 90’s virtual reality kept trying to break out, but it was not to the high standards necessary, and was quickly dismissed as a gimmick. Luckey and everyone at Oculus was aiming for it to be different this time. This time VR was going to be immersive and revolutionary right from the beginning. That’s how we would move past the poor VR experiences of the past, and into the real future of gaming.

Oculus-Touch

This idea of perfection became so important that fans kept waiting, and waiting…and waiting some more. Finally Oculus seemed to get the kick that they needed when a true competitor reared its head. Valve and HTC teamed up to launch the Vive, which seemed like it could deliver the same, or even a better VR experience than the Oculus Rift.

The most die hard of Oculus Rift fans are sitting on their hands, waiting for emails to come that seem to never arrive

With Vive looming on the horizon, Oculus finally started setting dates, and releasing info. Unfortunately, that info wasn’t exactly what people were looking for, with prices nearly double what Oculus had been hinting at, and a lack of motion controls at launch. This was the first sign of real trouble for Oculus Rift, but things have only gotten worse recently.

With the launch date of March 28th now gone, and no pre orders having shipped at all (promises of shipments coming today seem to be largely false, or only for those who ordered within literally the first few minutes), it looks like the Oculus Rift is a nonstarter for the moment. This isn’t to say that the product is bad, or that fans won’t like what they get once it does arrive. But Oculus has squandered what so many companies would kill for, excitement and fervor about their product.

Heading over to the Oculus subreddit you will find that the evangelizers who are so important for a new piece of technology have largely turned against the device and the company that made it. Sure, they’re still anxiously awaiting their Oculus Rift, but they are no longer all that happy about it. Things there got especially bad earlier this week when the first people to receive their Rifts revealed lens and field-of-view issues. While the problems might have turned out to be non-issues for many, these were all a part of that “perfection” that Oculus pushed, having set expectations amazingly high due to years of delays to get everything “just right”.

Now, the most die hard of Oculus Rift fans are sitting on their hands, waiting for emails to come that seem to never arrive. They were initially promised an Oculus Rift for March 28th, then they were told that shipments would go out later in the week, but would arrive by Friday. Now even that lowered expectation is being lowered again, all with little to no communication from Oculus themselves.

Vive-VR

Even worse, it appears that some who have pre ordered both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive might receive the latter first. Personally, I’ve had both companies promise that my order is being processed, with neither having shipped. The longer I have to wait, the more likely it is that I’ll stick with the Vive and get rid of my Oculus, as the Vive actually comes with the motion controllers by default, and features more elements, such as free movement.

The big question is, if we had to wait this long, why was everything not perfect? Why was the device of a lower quality than initially thought (even if only slightly), why was the price higher than promised, why did it not come with the specialized VR controllers, and why are people who paid money still waiting for their device to even ship? This is just talking about the fans too, imagine being a game developer who banked on thousands of Oculus Rifts arriving in gamers’ homes over the last couple of days, only to see your game stagnate on the market. The whole situation is unfortunate, but becomes worse each hour that passes without those shipments going out. Hopefully Oculus breaks their silence soon, or just gets the products out that people have waited for for far too long.

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