High-end PC gaming has never been a cheap endeavor, and the same goes for high-end, PC-based virtual reality. Oculus Rift pre-orders kicked off today, and the headset is priced at the upper end of our prediction window, for a healthy US$599.
Our prediction of $500-600 was based on founder Palmer Luckey reiterating a statement that Rift and PC would add up to around $1,500. The $599 price could mean that Oculus Ready PCs will start at $900 (though you can probably build your own for a bit less than that), but it may just be pointing to the Rift and Rift Ready PC bundle that Oculus will be offering for $1,499.
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The Rift pre-order package includes the Oculus Rift headset, positional sensor (for tracking your leaning and other upper body movement), a wireless Xbox One gamepad and two games: Lucky's Tale and Eve: Valkyrie.
There was also a surprising addition to the bundle, the Oculus Remote (above, far left). The small wireless remote is designed to be "the easiest way to introduce non-gamers to VR." The accessory appears to include a touchpad, back button, plus/minus keys and an Oculus Home button.
Oculus had announced the paired PC's minimum specs in mid-2015, and those haven't changed. With the launch of pre-orders, Oculus launched a Windows-based tool to help you determine whether your PC is ready to let you "step into the game" (download link).
In the weeks leading up to pre-orders, Luckey took to Twitter to manage expectations for those expecting budget pricing, saying "VR will become something everyone wants before it becomes something everyone can afford." He also emphasized that the price could have been much higher, tweeting "1st gen VR users are being heavily subsidized by major players who want VR business to grow, though few seem to understand that."
Oculus says Rift pre-orders start shipping March 28 (just barely making the company's promised Q1 launch window). It will ship initially to 20 countries (list here), with others coming over time. Those who pre-order the Rift also reserve their spot to pre-order the wireless Oculus Touch controllers (below), which "give you hands" inside virtual worlds, in the second half of 2016.
Source: OculusView gallery - 7 images