Three years ago Palmer Luckey, Founder at Oculus VR, and his the team launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for their Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. At the time backers could pledge support in return for a Developer Kit to be sent to them. This put the equipment in the hands of developers as well as potential early adopter customers. But that was for the original headset, a design that’s continually been improved with new prototypes ever since on the product’s way to the consumer market.
Now a few years later, pre-orders for the first retail version of the Rift finally start today January 6th, and with the announcement it came the news that every Kickstarter backer who pledged to the campaign to receive a the original dev kit will be receiving a new Rift for free.
The pre-order bundle that all backers receive will include the a Kickstarter Edition of the latest Oculus Rift and same two games that come to consumers who pre-order the headset: Lucky’s Tale and EVE: Valkyrie. Both were designed specifically for use with the Rift. At opposite ends of the spectrum, Lucky’s Tale is a single-player platforming adventure, while EVE: Valkyrie is a multiplayer dogfighting spaceflight sim (that our Senior Editor Rob Keyes immediately fell in love with years ago back when it was a prototype called EVE-VR).
As a small token of our appreciation for your support, all Kickstarter backers who pledged for a Rift development kit will get a free Kickstarter Edition Oculus Rift! And like all Rift pre-order purchasers, you’ll receive a bundled copy of Lucky’s Tale and EVE: Valkyrie.
Here’s the surprising part. The Oculus Rift price is higher than what everyone expected at a whopping $599.99, which explains why it was held secret until today. The unit does come with the two games as mentioned, along with an Xbox One controller (due to their partnership with Microsoft announced last summer).
For Kickstarter backers, this makes Oculus VR’s gesture that much more noble. The original Kickstarter campaign launched in 2012 and was funded almost instantly. As it stands now about 7000 people pledged enough to receive this new bundle. In 2014, the company was bought by Facebook for the sum of $2 billion, a move earned mixed responses from gamers and media pundits. The company has continued strong, however, with other tech companies desperate to follow suit, including Sony with their own PlayStation VR headset and Valve with the HTC Vive, among others..
Virtual reality isn’t for everyone though and that’s the trickiest aspect of this new tech. There’s motion sickness that some users may have to combat as developers learn to optimize software for VR in addition to the argument that the gesture-based input requires physical space a lot of gamers simply don’t have. Anyone interested in running a VR headset requires a computer with some serious power behind it.
Official PC Specs from the Oculus Blog:
- NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
- Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
- 8GB+ RAM
- Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
- 2x USB 3.0 ports
- Windows 7 SP1 or newer
Despite the headset’s small size, the high-definition screens, motion detection and orientation inputs require a lot of processing power. For most mid-range gamers, this means virtual reality will be out of their reach until a major upgrade is performed. Then again, if you are absolutely interested you better act fast. The ship date was pushed back already from March to April and the demand is straining the website’s servers:
We are experiencing insanely high load. Credit card processing is trying to stay livr under load from mass script kiddie fraud attempts.— Palmer Luckey (@PalmerLuckey) January 6, 2016
The Oculus Rift is now available for pre-order with an expected ship date of April 2016. It can be ordered here.