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Facebook Is Slashing the Price of Oculus Rift VR Headset Again

Jul 10, 2017

Facebook is dropping the price of its Oculus Rift virtual reality headset—at least temporarily.

The social network’s virtual reality business unit Oculus is holding a six-week summer sale of its flagship headset starting Monday. During the sale, the Rift and its accompanying touch controller will cost $400 instead of $600 for the two items.

The momentary price cut follows a previous price cut in March, when Facebook permanently lowered the Rift’s cost to $500 and its motion controllers to $100, instead of $200.

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At least for the time being, Facebook’s Oculus Rift is now the cheapest high-end VR headset on the market when bundled with a motion controller. The HTC Vive costs $800 and includes motion controllers while the Sony PlayStation VR costs $400, but does not include motion controllers and a mandatory sensor camera—those extras bump the PlayStation VR’s price to $460.

“This is a good time to test a mass-market price,” said Oculus vice president of content Jason Rubin, regarding the summer season when people have time off from work and more time for play.

Since high-end VR headsets like the Vive and Rift first debuted a year ago, sales of VR headsets have generally been underwhelming. Although HTC and Facebook don’t reveal sales of their headsets, research firms like Superdata estimated that the two companies sold 420,00 and 243,000 of their headsets respectively in 2016.

Sony, however, said in June that it had sold over one million PlayStation VR headsets since they debuted in October.

Among some of the reasons analysts believe VR headsets haven’t been a big hit with consumers is because of the high-price of the headsets that require powerful computers to operate. The PlayStation VR, it should be noted, requires a PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 4 Pro console to function.

Rubin agrees with the sentiment that the high price of VR headsets make them less attractive to buy.

“What we learned with the [March] price cuts is that price matters,” said Rubin, who declined to say how many headsets Oculus has sold since those price cuts.

Will This Be the Year That VR Finally Goes Mainstream?

Rubin also declined to share statistics that indicate whether more people are using the Rift than before or specific details about how their usage has been changing. However, Rubin said there has been an “an acceleration of sales that has maintained” and that, anecdotally, Oculus has observed that more people are using their Rift devices and playing more games.

Rubin explained that there are now more VR games available on the Oculus platform than when it first debuted, which should make it more compelling for consumers.

“The world looks at this and says ‘why didn’t you get millions of units into homes last year?’” said Rubin. “My answer: A lot of these would be in the closet,” he said referring to the notion that there wasn’t enough compelling VR content last year to keep people engaged.

He said Oculus is working with big-name gaming publishers like Ubisoft and Epic Games on VR titles, which means there will be more big titles hitting Oculus in the near future, like a recent game based on the latest Spiderman movie.

“Content drives this kind of business,” said Rubin. “It’s not a fan where you turn it on and it works.”

Oculus will be watching how the summer price cut performs before it makes a decision to permanently drops the price, Rubin explained.

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