Facebook is trying to shore up their faltering venture into virtual reality with serious price cuts across the board on Oculus Rift hardware.
As consumer demo stations close across the country, ZeniMax moves to prevent Oculus from using allegedly ill-gotten code within their devices. Analysts have Oculus against the ropes, with sales easily outpaced by their major competitors. Despite being one of the first VR platforms out of the gate, the most publicized, and the beneficiary of a multi-billion dollar buyout by the biggest social network of all time, Oculus has continually struggled to excite consumers.
The Playstation VR has it beat with plug-and-play accessibility and aggressive pricing that has ignited the gaming community. The HTC Vive’s knockout punch of superior horsepower and advanced features — including full-room VR and motion controls at launch — have made the Oculus Rift look primitive and sluggish by comparison. Couple that with its DRM controversy, its decision to block pornographic content outright, and continuous legal troubles, and you have a VR project that is far more virtual than reality.
In an effort to inject their platform with some much-needed life, Zuckerberg’s Oculus is trying to lower the steep barrier of entry. A permanent 25% price cut will bring the price down from $800 to $600 for the full setup, knocking about $100 off of both the Rift headset and the Touch peripheral controllers.
This is the first major shift in strategy since Facebook hired former Google and Xiaomi executive Hugo Barra to lead their virtual reality operations in January. He is most famous for his work at the “Apple of China,” once accused of copying the cell phone giant in a manner all too reminiscent of Oculus’ problems with ZeniMax.
Is it too late? Or is this just another step in the long game Zuckerberg claims to be playing? As the market for virtual reality leaves behind its lackluster beginnings and begins to take hold of consumers’ imagination in ways that surprise even its purveyors, the stakes will only continue to rise.
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