The name “Oculus” has become a bit of a buzz word over the course of the last couple of weeks. Owing both in part to the company launching their so far well-received HMD the “Rift” (Rift CV1 to all you techy folk out there), and also to the enormous amounts of negative press an unexpected component shortage in their production line has caused, which has left potentially tens of thousands of early pre-orders waiting for their product in some cases a couple of months after they were expected to be delivered. Luckily, for those of us fortunate enough to live in the good old US of A (alas, I myself live in Canada) who are still waiting for their pre-orders and/or those who would like to take it for a spin before considering making such a purchase (understandable considering the headset is somewhat hefty $500 USD before the cost of the currently unreleased Touch controllers and a PC powerful enough to run it) Oculus announced yesterday that as part of their plan for getting VR headsets onto the heads of the masses, they will be rolling out HMD’s to some 48 different Best Buy locations throughout the US on the 7th as part of the Best Buy exclusive Intel showcase titled “The Intel Experience”, with more Rift demos going out to additional Best Buy venues later in the summer.
All of this seemingly wonderful news is not without its caveats in the world of Oculus’ fans however, as both Kickstarter backers (backers were promised free Rifts by Oculus as a thank you for helping them all those years ago) and pre-orders alike have been taking to Reddit to express their disapproval of a process where they feel like they are being shoved aside having to wait, while the VR giant takes its favor with the bigger, more lucrative retail venues; and while I can feel their pain (I myself am a day one pre-order with a newly projected shipment date for the middle of June) Oculus assures us that the amount of Rifts going off to these Best Buy locations are very small indeed, and that their foremost priority will continue to be fulfilling the orders of those already in line.
Regardless of how that makes people feel, the move to demo at such well-established retail outlets as Best Buy is a good one and one that will likely go a long way in cementing the future of VR in a positive light. It’s hard to show people something they need to see to understand without actually being able to make them see it; and given the fact that the Rift launch has already been somewhat shaky at best, leaving consumers to ponder VR with the scent of bad-blood in the air wouldn’t be the smartest move on Oculus’ part.
So it stands that as much as some of those who ordered early might want their Rifts now, I think it is far better to get these headsets into the hands of as many people as possible so they can share that excitement with others and let the world know just how amazing the Oculus Rift can be; and moving into retail stores and providing demos can do just that.
One thing is for certain, if the amount of people freaking out about not having their Rifts yet is any indicator of interest (and it is) the Rift is one popular bit of technology! If you are itching to try it out our yourself (you’d be crazy not to, it’s amazing) and you live in or near the US, take a look at this Oculus webpage and schedule yourself a demo. Just be prepared to want to spend some money even if you weren’t planning on it, because once you try it you aren’t going to want to give it up.