Remember, 24 hours ago, when I was bitching about game remakes coming out too soon after their initial release? During that post, I made it a point to explain that the way people are spending their own money is their own prerogative. I lean on that point because, if someone expressed disgust at a way I spent my own money, I’d probably either A.) Shrug off their opinion or, B.) Tell them where to go and how to get there.
I bring this up because today Oculus Rift announced their price point. And it’s a lot of money, too. Not everybody has $599.99 they can sink into an accessory. Many people took to Reddit, Twitter, Facebook … hell, even I tweeted out a snarky response to the price — not my best work, but not my worst either. The thing is, if I actually had the money to spend on the Oculus Rift (read: if my wife would never find out what I paid for it), you can bet your ass I’d buy it.
And despite coming from a guy who could claim it on my annual taxes, I think it’s still too much money.
Not overpriced, mind you. VR technology isn’t cheap and, having used the OR firsthand for a number of titles, this thing is absolutely awe-inspiring. I still stand by my statement that there is no better way to experience Elite Dangerous than with this hardware strapped to your head, and it made other titles better — even the indies I saw at the Boston FIG. No, it’s not overpriced for what it is, it’s simply expensive.
And, while this won’t be a popular opinion, if it’s too expensive for you, you’re going to have to accept that you can’t have it. I know I won’t be able to afford one until they’re down to a more reasonable price. I will certainly request one for review, but the odds of getting my hands on one for freelance work or for College News Magazine are slim. I understand that.
Here’s my rub though, the proverbial “You know what really grinds my gears,” version of my blog: How can people get legitimately upset at others who can afford the Oculus Rift and are ordering it? My assumption is that everybody wants access to the Oculus Rift, but at current price, it’s not possible. So, as I learned in business school, if nobody buys the damned thing, the company will have to drop the price out of necessity.
Oculus is a for-profit company and they need to make money to stay solvent.
The answer is in the future though. There’s really only one way to determine if it’s priced accordingly, and with that we have to wait at least a year. Right now, Oculus is seeing preorders coming through from everybody who has been sitting idly by, waiting for it to open up. After this initial wave, they’ll still be catching up to demand, filling orders as they need to.
In January 2017 though, that’s when we’ll know if this is priced accordingly. Within a year the initial hype will have died down and we, the “regular consumers,” will be staring at one of two outcomes. If it’s priced well, the device will still be in demand (and back ordered), we’ll have more content that works specifically with it, and Oculus will be the belle of the ball, talking about Rift 2. If not, which is the scenario I expect, the Rift will be down to $399.99 or less. That’s because, while the Oculus Rift is certainly an amazing piece of technology that has the potential to change the entire gaming landscape, there’s not enough content to justify the $599.99.
Let me rephrase — there’s not enough user-specific content to justify the price. There’s a ton of “stuff” that works with it, but it’s designed for a very specific purpose. It’s not like a smartphone that gives a multitude of uses. This is for experiencing virtual reality. My parents use smartphones (surprisingly). They’ve never even heard of the Oculus Rift. And beyond that, people have specific tastes when it comes to gaming. Sure, we all want to try new things and have fun, new experiences, but we all have our favorite genres. We need to have games that cater to our tastes to justify the purchase.
So as it stands, I’m extremely happy for the people who’ve finally been able to buy the hardware they’ve been dying to own. I’m disappointed in those that are negative towards the purchase. You and I are not going to have the Rift as it launches and we’re going to miss out on experiencing it all first (OH NO!), but in a year there’s a decision to be made. Either Oculus will have to drop the price to get sales up, or we’re going to have decide if the Oculus Rift is something we really need to own.
If it is, start saving. If it’s not, accept it. But don’t make others feel bad for having something you don’t.