Palmer Luckey is the original founder and designer of the Oculus Rift.
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I am a virtual reality enthusiast and hardware hacker that started experimenting with VR in 2009. As time went on, I realized that VR was actually technologically feasible as a consumer product. In 2012, I founded Oculus, and today, we are finally shipping our first consumer device, the Rift. AMA!
The price is what it is, I understand bleeding edge electronics are expensive. My question is "why was the messaging about price so poor? $599 is not in the ballpark of $350"
Hijacking your post to respond to the earlier mega-post that was deleted, it included your question:
>The price is what it is, I understand bleeding edge electronics is expensive.. My question is "why was the messaging about price so poor? $599 is not in the ballpark of $350 when your target audience is the mainstream".
I handled the messaging poorly. Earlier last year, we started officially messaging that the Rift+Recommended spec PC would cost roughly $1500. That was around the time we committed to the path of prioritizing quality over cost, trying to make the best VR headset possible with current technology. Many outlets picked the story up as “Rift will cost $1500!”, which was honestly a good thing - the vast majority of consumers (and even gamers!) don’t have a PC anywhere close to the rec. spec, and many people were confused enough to think the Rift was a standalone device. For that vast majority of people, $1500 is the all-in cost of owning Rift. The biggest portion of their cost is the PC, not the Rift itself.
For gamers that already have high end GPUs, the equation is obviously different. In a September interview, during the Oculus Connect developer conference, I made the infamous “roughly in that $350 ballpark, but it will cost more than that” quote. As an explanation, not an excuse: during that time, many outlets were repeating the “Rift is $1500!” line, and I was frustrated by how many people thought that was the price of the headset itself. My answer was ill-prepared, and mentally, I was contrasting $349 with $1500, not our internal estimate that hovered close to $599 - that is why I said it was in roughly the same ballpark. Later on, I tried to get across that the Rift would cost more than many expected, in the past two weeks particularly. There are a lot of reasons we did not do a better job of prepping people who already have high end GPUs, legal, financial, competitive, and otherwise, but to be perfectly honest, our biggest failing was assuming we had been clear enough about setting expectations. Another problem is that people looked at the much less advanced technology in DK2 for $350 and assumed the consumer Rift would cost a similar amount, an assumption that myself (and Oculus) did not do a good job of fixing. I apologize.
To be perfectly clear, we don’t make money on the Rift. The Xbox controller costs us almost nothing to bundle, and people can easily resell it for profit. A lot of people wish we would sell a bundle without “useless extras” like high-end audio, a carrying case, the bundled games, etc, but those just don’t significantly impact the cost. The core technology in the Rift is the main driver - two built-for-VR OLED displays with very high refresh rate and pixel density, a very precise tracking system, mechanical adjustment systems that must be lightweight, durable, and precise, and cutting-edge optics that are more complex to manufacture than many high end DSLR lenses. It is expensive, but for the $599 you spend, you get a lot more than spending $599 on pretty much any other consumer electronics devices - phones that cost $599 cost a fraction of that to make, same with mid-range TVs that cost $599. There are a lot of mainstream devices in that price-range, so as you have said, our failing was in communication, not just price.
>In what 'ballpark' can we expect Touch's price to be?
No more ballparks for now. I have learned my lesson.
>How many games can we expect to have available to us by years end?
At least 100 - Over 20 Oculus Studios titles, many more 3rd party titles.
>John Carmack tweeted that he expects gaming to occupy less than 50% of the time we spend in the RIFT.. what kind of experiences is he eluding to. Oculus Medium? Toy box? How much is there to do in Toy Box?
Somewhat surprisingly, the majority of time spent right in Gear VR is video and experiences, not games. Over time, VR span beyond games, much like the evolution of computer and mobile platforms before it. Right now, gaming is going to be the primary driver of PC VR, but the content base will expand over time.
>What kind of prices can we expect Movies/Experiences to have in the Oculus Store? Most experiences in the GearVR store have been free.
There will be the range of prices from free to higher priced AAA games. The pricing will be similar to what you see in console PC games.
>Can we have some detailed information about the screens/displays? FOV/Resolution/pixelfill/pentile/etc... these are custom displays, we want to know everything
We will be sharing more soon. We have done a lot of work optimizing and building these displays, we definitely want people to see how awesome they are.
Post too long, about to post next bit...
>What accessories can we expect to see from Oculus for the Rift (replacement facial interface padding)
There are a range of accessories coming, and we’ll have a range of facial interfaces ourselves. Expect more news in the future.
>The are some apps on the GearVR store that are unavailable to people in certain countries.. (MilkVR in Australia for example), are we going to have to deal with that bullshit with the Rift in it's Oculus store?
We want to have all Oculus Store content available everywhere in the world for Gear VR and Rift. There may be some cases where we can’t because of local policy or technical limitations.
>Multiplayer experiences are obviously going to be a big thing when it comes to VR, what is Oculus doing to ensure its not the Wild West out their for connecting to other Oculus Users.. Id really rather not have to sign up to a hundred different gaming portals each with its own unique friends list and differing network performance…
Our games services provide devs the ability to use your Oculus Name throughout all of the Oculus games and experiences.
>Are there any details about Oculus' Friends List/Store Front/Community/Library app/program. Basically im asking how is Oculus' answer to Steam going? Can we have some details?
We talked about the Oculus platform at the E3 Rift Reveal event in June and at Oculus Connect 2 in September, good to watch those talks if you have not already. No additional news yet.
>Oculus have the Rift and Touch. Is there anything else VR related you guys are working on that your willing to let slip?
Yes, we are working on a wide range of VR technology. No, not willing to let more secrets slip here.
>Will upgrading to Windows 10 be required for Rift? Will it provide a better experience for the Rift specifically? (compatibility, setup, etc)
We support Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10.
>Will we ever see a drum kit in Rock Band VR? or Multiplayer..
That’s a better question for Harmonix, the developers of Rockband.
>How Long will the Cables be from headset to PC, is it feasible to extend that length for room to vr experiences?
4 meters from PC to Rift headset, though use of extenders is often possible.
>Palmer the messaging you have been hammering out lately is "We'll see you in the Rift".. how exactly will that happen?
Multiplayer and social experiences like EVE Valkyrie, mostly! I can’t work all the time, gotta spend some time playing VR games myself.
>Recommended specs are 970/290.. anyone buying a RIFT will EXPECT to play all games at max settings and have the best experience possible.. is a 970 up for that challenge? will Nvidias Pascal GPU's be better suited for VR? what will YOU (@palmer) be running on your rift set up?
You won’t necessarily be able to play all games at MAX settings on the recommended spec. You will be able to play everything in the Oculus store at a high quality level (90 FPS) on the recommended spec. Personally, I am going to be running the standard rec spec rig to make sure I get the same experience as most users.
>Will Oculus Cinema be able to play our 3D/2D Bluray movies off the disc or do we have to go through the whole rip/convert phase.
On Gear VR, Oculus Video has a paid video store that features full-length films from our content partners. It also supports sideloaded video playback. You can expect similar features to come to Rift over time.
>I want to know more about the small new remote, can we play games with it? What was the decision behind it and what functionality can we expect from it
We designed the Oculus Remote to be simple and intuitive input device for navigating VR experiences, especially when a fully-featured gamepad doesn’t make sense. An example is Oculus Video on Gear VR, which can be explored with just with gaze and tap. The remote is also ideal for non-gamers who want to try VR but aren’t familiar with a gamepad. It is also a good fit for apps that are ported across from Gear VR to Rift.
>Will only apps downloaded from the Oculus store work or will we be able to use software that is downloaded outside the app store?
You’ll be able to do both. You can download Rift titles from our store or elsewhere and run them.
>When CV1 is out, what happens to DK1 & DK2 compatibility? are they phased out immediately or will the SDK allow seemless support for them for games and experiences? is this all on the developers themselves? Will the introduction of Touch phase out DK2 completely when it comes to games with "Touch required"?
We want to make sure that developers with DK1 and DK2 can continue developing for Rift. We’ll have more news on DK1 and DK2 compatibility over the next few months.
>The Case that the CV1 comes in, is there a place for the Oculus Touch in that case?
Will we see CV2 before 2020?
Can’t say too much about future products yet.
>What kind of 3D support can we expect for traditional, non-VR games? If I want to play Overwatch or Heroes of the Storm or Counterstrike on my Rift, can I use it as a dummy 3D display? If not, why?
This may be enabled via 3rd party applications, but it isn’t something we’re focused on for Rift launch.
>Can we expect to ever see a cheaper, stripped down Rift SKU (-Xbox controller, -headphones, -games, etc)
Very unlikely for the first generation of Rift. A standardized system is in the best interest in developers trying to reach the widest audience, and we cannot significantly reduce the cost without dramatically reducing quality. Also see my first post.
>What's the rough cost breakdown that goes into the $600 cost of production? Roughly how many % of the price is the OLED, optics, audio, electronics, peripherals, and manufacturing?
And spoil the first tear down?! I wish I could share the detailed breakdown, but I cannot, for both internal and partner related reasons. I will use whatever credibility I have left to assure you that you are getting a pretty crazy deal.
Well my new IAmA question just became:
Do you have blisters on your hands now for being a badass and answering that mass of questions everyone wanted answered but got deleted by the mods?
Thanks for the detailed replies!
No, I have thick calluses on my hands from wielding tools in the lab. Real tools, not power tools.
Will you have sex with me?
I don't remember writing this.
> The pricing will be similar to what you see in console PC games.
/r/pcmasterrace just shit a brick.
Sorry, meant console and PC! Just wanted to differentiate from mobile or handheld games.
Good evening Mr. Luckey; thank you very much for doing this AMA!
The VR community has suffered something of a divide over the price of the Rift that was announced for the pre-orders today (especially in Australia and the UK). It has unsurprisingly disappointed many people and pushed it over a price point that your average earner (such as myself) could reasonably afford. We're concerned that this will alienate a lot of enthusiasts and potential enthusiasts alike.
What was the rationale behind this decision, and why has the cost for the CV1 risen so drastically from the initially ballparked figure of ~$350 and the cost of the DK1 and DK2?
We look forward to hearing your response, thank you!
Check my other post, it covers most of this. I share your concerns - believe me, I want nothing more than for VR to succeed in the long run. Weak currencies in certain countries is especially a bummer, since we can't control it.
The unfortunate reality we discovered is that making a VR product good enough to deliver presence and eliminate discomfort was not really feasible at the lower prices of earlier dev kits that used mostly off the shelf hardware.
We could have released a lower quality product and saved one or two hundred bucks, but the all-in cost for the average consumer (including PC) would not have budged significantly. To address a later post, mums and dads would be paying in the $1300 to $1500 range regardless.
DK1 and DK2 cost a lot less - they used mostly off the shelf components. They also had significantly fewer features (back of head tracking, headphones, mic, removal facial interfaces, etc.) For Rift, we’re using largely custom VR technology (eg. custom displays designed for VR) to push the experience well beyond DK2 to the Crescent Bay level.
How long do you see the first generation of the Rift lasting, and are there any features that weren't feasable for this generation that you hope to eventually fit in?
Neat-o, first AMA answer. Now its time to start saving for my PC upgrades and Rift.
Somewhere between a console and a mobile phone, much closer to a mobile phone. The PC spec for Rift won't change during the 1st generation.
Quite a few features. We have a lot going on in Oculus Research, some of which will make it into the next product, some of which will go into products even further down the road. VR is still advancing very rapidly, there will be some pretty huge technological shifts happening.
> No more ballparks for now. I have learned my lesson.
I literally laughed out loud at this. I can see you just throwing your hands up in the air.
What is the ballpark price of the touch controllers?
Repeating my other answer, but no more ballparks from me for now. I learned my lesson - I usually try to underpromise and overdeliver, and I need to hold myself to that better in the future.
I have been planning on purchasing a VR headset since I heard about the Oculus Rift over a year ago. Like many others, I am unable to afford it at the recently-announced price point. I have three questions:
1.) What are your plans in the future to make this product more affordable to the average person?
2.) What is your response to this, in which you said “If something’s even $600, it doesn’t matter how good it is, how great of an experience it is — if they just can’t afford it, then it really might as well not exist?”
3.) The HTC Vive is expected to cost a little more than the Rift. If the price point is relatively close, what does the Oculus Rift have that makes it compete with the HTC Vive?
> 1.) What are your plans in the future to make this product more affordable to the average person?
Continue working with GPU and CPU manufacturers to optimize for VR, thus reducing the required hardware cost. Use economies of scale and the passage of time to reduce the cost of good enough PC hardware. For the average person, the PC is by far the biggest cost, not the headset - the end goal is to make sure people can use the PC they already have in most cases.
> 2.) What is your response to this, in which you said “If something’s even $600, it doesn’t matter how good it is, how great of an experience it is — if they just can’t afford it, then it really might as well not exist?”
I talked about this exact quote in two of my other posts in this thread. TL;DR: Landscape changed a lot, and we are in a better place to do what only we can do.
> 3.) The HTC Vive is expected to cost a little more than the Rift. If the price point is relatively close, what does the Oculus Rift have that makes it compete with the HTC Vive?
I can't comment on price speculation, but I think the Rift is the best headset with the best content and the best long-term support.
When will the 1.0 Rift SDK be made available to all developers?
Hey, thanks for doing this AMA. One of my main concerns is compatibility. Say I get an Oculus Rift but a game is released for the Vive or another headset later down the road. Is there a set standard that's being agreed to across different companies or will everything be strictly proprietary? I really don't want a repeat of the whole Bluray/HD DVD fiasco.
We are basically in the XKCD standards comic scenario, at least for now. We have been building our SDK for years, and it is currently the best one out there (IMO) - getting our own product out the door is our current priority, we will look at other headsets if and when they hit the market. There are several efforts to create a standard for VR games, all of which work different, some of which are controlled by a single company.
Most games are going to support multiple headsets, since Unity and Unreal make it pretty easy to build for multiple platforms.
I'd like to ask about the messaging leading up to the Rift release.
There is a lot of backlash from people who were under the impression that the price of the Rift would be much less due to the fact that Oculus had Facebook money and would be selling at cost. The price is actually quite reasonable when you compare it to a $1000+ Sony 720p HMZ or consider that it's only $200 more than the DK2 for a monumentally better product.
But it's the messaging that lead folks to believe it would be lower since the last statements they heard were 'in the $350 ballpark','we can afford to sell at cost,'and "If something’s even $600, it doesn’t matter how good it is, how great of an experience it is — if they just can’t afford it, then it really might as well not exist."
Then there's the pre-order itself; we got no official announcement of the price before pre-orders went live, there was no announcing of the full launch title lineup to help justify that price, no one still knows much about the Remote (it was just a surprise), and we were to pre-order without knowing the price of the itegral Touch controllers or when they would come out.
Do you feel like Oculus/your messaging is responsible for of some of the hurt feelings, and if so what would you have done differently in hindsight if anything?
You have this spot-on. I cover this in my big reply.
We showed a lot of the launch lineup at E3, and more of it at Oculus Connect. We will have more to show soon.
As far as announcing price ahead of time, price and preorders usually go hand in hand, and there is usually not an advance announcement of preorders. In this case, people were begging us to give them some advance notice of when they would go live - that is why we decided it would be a good idea to announce preorders ahead of time. It did not make sense to announce price in a vacuum without all the other info.
Hi Luckey, thanks for the AMA! I just have a couple questions:
Will the integrated DAC+amp be usable with third party headphones? e.g. through a 3.5mm jack on the headset. Or only with the shipped ones?
As a self-professed audiophile, how would you rank the integrated audio solution alongside entry-level audiophile headphones like the ATH-M50x, or the HD 598s?
We've all heard of the concept of the metaverse, and there have been more than a few concepts released. As a partner with Facebook, it seems perfect for a first-party application to be released that would give us some of that functionality (having our own place in VR where we can socialize with friends/other users, small activities, etc.). Can you talk about any plans for such an application, or if Oculus will continue to release first party applications for the Rift besides its suite of launch software?
What is it like working with Carmack?
> Will the integrated DAC+amp be usable with third party headphones? e.g. through a 3.5mm jack on the headset. Or only with the shipped ones?
Not officially, and not without a little hardware hackery. Our DAC+amp are optimized for our specific driver modules, and are definitely not designed for high-impedance cans. The quality of our built-in audio stack is pretty great, if you really want something better, you are probably better pairing off with an external DAC.
> As a self-professed audiophile, how would you rank the integrated audio solution alongside entry-level audiophile headphones like the ATH-M50x, or the HD 598s?
Favorably. They are open-back drivers with pretty accurate response and a great soundstage. Somewhat similar to ATH-AD700s.
>We've all heard of the concept of the metaverse, and there have been more than a few concepts released. As a partner with Facebook, it seems perfect for a first-party application to be released that would give us some of that functionality (having our own place in VR where we can socialize with friends/other users, small activities, etc.). Can you talk about any plans for such an application, or if Oculus will continue to release first party applications for the Rift besides its suite of launch software?
We will continue to release first party applications, but I can't share anything more specific right now.
>What is it like working with Carmack?
Awesome. There are only a handful of people with comparable expertise in both hardware and software.
> cutting-edge optics that are more complex to manufacture than many high end DSLR lenses
No offense, but I find that a little hard to believe, high end dslr lenses consist of like 14 elements in 10 groups and need to be able to very rapidly autofocus, not to mention things like flare control and ED elements, what's going on with your optics that competes with that sort of complexity?
You are right, I was talking about individual elements. DSLR lenses are pretty crazy lens assemblies, but the individual elements/lenses inside them are comparatively simple.
Can't get into the details now, but they are essentially hybrid lenses that combine the best of traditional optics and fresnel lenses into a single element.
How many rifts have been pre-ordered?
Can't say, sorry. Financial disclosure regs and stuff.
I was re-reading this interview with him and it shines a different light on recent events.
It sounds like Oculus switched gears from trying to make one headset for everyone, to making the best headset since there are other companies that will have lower price points.
> "It does change the equation a little bit when you’ve got something like Gear VR and when you’re working with partners to make lower cost head mounted displays available to people… it’s a different equation than when you feel like you’re the only person service the entire market, in that case you’re trying to make these balances… what if it was the opposite if you were like ‘if only it’d been a little cheaper then we would have been able to reach more people,’ but with all the projects we’re working on and all the partners we’re working on, I’m confident there’s going to be VR existing at multiple quality points and price points and with the Rift, it makes sense to do what nobody else is doing which is invest in making the best possible quality headset."
Exactly. We already work with one partner, Samsung on Gear VR. Year ago, we said that we would not be able to sell a billion units on our own, and that is still true. In the long run, there are going to be a ton of VR devices out there serving every price point, much like the television market.
What details can you share about the Remote? Does it include a gyroscope/accelerometer?
Will the Kickstarter backer shipments will be in the March window? Will they have the same place in line for Touch orders?
Will Oculus be artificially restricting use with computers below the min spec?
No gyro. It is essentially the input set of GearVR made into a remote. You are technically able to replace the battery, but the included battery life should last for about 4,000 hours of use.
Kickstarter backer shipments will be shipping in March. They will indeed have the same place in line for Touch, along with the other pre-order bonuses.
We will not be artificially restricting use of computers. Not my style. Some apps will run on lower spec machines, especially things like movie apps, but we can't officially support that, especially since many low end cards are physically unable to output the framerate and resolution required for the hardware to operate.
> We will be sharing more soon
I don't quite understand why it's necessary to remain secretive about the specs when you're already selling the devices. Maybe it's some industry voodoo that relates to how you trickle out information among competition or something, but unless you're planning to re-tool the CV1 and change specs before March, why not just let people know what they're buying?
Among other reasons: Because some of the specs are tightly tied to manufacturing, and we have to respect our partners. We have been letting people try it since E3 of last year, though!
Edit: To change this from the question answered in the megapost, are there any educational or training focused applications of the rift you've been particularly impressed with?
Hey Palmer, Carmack referred to less than 50% of time in the rift being spent on gaming, what use beyond gaming are you most excited for?
How do you plan to show these devices to the public? i.e. Mall Kiosks, etc
We announced that we will have retail partners today, more info soon! Demos are important.
> In the long run, there are going to be a ton of VR devices out there serving every price point, much like the television market
Are you working with any kind of consortium to develop a cross platform VR API, a sort of OpenGL for VR in order to ensure that this broad range of VR devices don't all die due to a fractured base of applications available for each HMD?
We are focusing on launching our own product right now, but when standardization does eventually happen, it will be the result of collaboration between many companies, not control by a single company.
Hey Palmer! Super excited about the consumer launch, I have a few questions for you!
1) Details on fraudsters being removed and pre-orders being moved up (When, how will we know if we’ve been moved up etc.)
2) Were any Rifts allocated to physical retailers for launch?
3) The VR Short “Henry” will be available for the CV1 at launch, but what about the VR Short “Lost”?
We’ll be removing fraudulent pre-orders as we go. No plan to notify users other than your Rift arriving on your doorstep earlier than expected.We’re allocating a limited number of Rifts to select US retail locations for April. Retail is a fine option (though there will be very limited quantities), but by pre-ordering you reserve your place in line. Retail won’t be option for international customers in April.
Henry and Lost will be available on Rift at launch.
Palmer, this must be both an awesome and a tough time for you. I've followed VR since DK1 and am happy to have preordered, and have got two questions for you:
Q: If we want a Rift, what benefits us from preordering - couldn't we just buy it from a retail store in April or May and skip the whole shipping/import fees issue?
Q: Will Oculus have it's own version of Virtual Desktop?
I want to navigate my Windows environment in VR: Reddit, a TV show playing, a few widgets - all on a huge "screen" around me.
> Q: If we want a Rift, what benefits us from preordering - couldn't we just buy it from a retail store in April or May and skip the whole shipping/import fees issue?
Free EVE: Valkyrie, reserve your spot in line for Touch.
> Q: Will Oculus have it's own version of Virtual Desktop?
Not a focus for us right now.
> The unfortunate reality we discovered is that making a VR product good enough to deliver presence and eliminate discomfort was not really feasible at the lower prices of earlier dev kits that used mostly off the shelf hardware.
if what i´m experiencing with the DK2 right now is "not good enough", i´m thrilled what the CV1 will deliver.
We could have shipped something along the lines of DK2, but I really don't think it would have been good enough to kickstart the consumer VR industry, especially in the long run. It would also cost more than people think - Shipping a real consumer product is more complex than janking out a dev kit, even something nearly identical to DK2 would have ended up costing $400+, and the all-in investment including a PC would still be around $1300, not enough to make the jump from enthusiast to mainstream.(No exact numbers, not done this cost analysis exercise in a long time
Will Oculus offer extention cords and if not can you recommend a third party?
Will Oculus offer a way to buy additional IR cameras?
Has Oculus labs experimented with light field displays yet ..do you envision a future version of the rift using it?
When do you think we will see the first game using Nvidia GameWorks VR sli?
Why is Unity dragging it's feet on incorporating GameWorks VR?
Why is SDK v1.0 being hidden from the public?
>Will Oculus offer extention cords and if not can you recommend a third party?
We will not be offering extension cords. No point in doing so when third parties like Amazon can sell for less than we can. Extensions will sometimes work, it depends on the PC and configuration, so no official support.
>Will Oculus offer a way to buy additional IR cameras?
Yes, both as part of Touch, and individually.
>Has Oculus labs experimented with light field displays yet ..
>do you envision a future version of the rift using it?
>When do you think we will see the first game using Nvidia GameWorks VR sli?
>Why is Unity dragging it's feet on incorporating GameWorks VR?
>Why is SDK v1.0 being hidden from the public?
We talk about this in the SDK 1.0 blog post, can't go beyond that right now.
> And spoil the first tear down?! I wish I could share the detailed breakdown, but I cannot, for both internal and partner related reasons. I will use whatever credibility I have left to assure you that you are getting a pretty crazy deal.
You can spoil it a little :)
How about an idea of the pack-in value of the two most talked about items? The pack-in preipherals (XBox controller and Oculus Remote) and the built-in headphones?
Really looking forward to the latest version near the end of this year, looks like you've done everything you could to make it incredible.
I can't break down the cost of those, but it is insignificant.
How long will the shipping cord be?