Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey has said that it will take ‘an ungodly amount of money’ to bring the Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headset to the mass market. Speaking on a recent panel, Luckey addressed Facebook’s recent $2 billion acquisition of Oculus VR, explaining that the buyout would help the company achieve things that it couldn’t have done independently.
“Virtual reality isn’t something you can do very cheaply,” Luckey stated, speaking at a NeuroGaming Conference panel with Sixense’s Amir Rubin, Neuroelectics Ana Maiques and Sony Computer Entertainment’s (SCE) Richard Marks. “It’s interesting because, y’know, all of us are working with hardware and I think we all know how difficult it is to launch a consumer hardware product, especially when you need to have some kind of critical mass in order to get to mass market. With a software product you don’t have any overhead, you don’t have to make a million copies for a couple of hundred dollars each before you sell them you can just, y’know, scale organically as you go.
“And it’s really tempting to think that a hardware company can do the same thing, that you can scale organically, that you can just slowly grow over time and hope that eventually you grow up to the scale you need to be to get to the mass market. But unfortunately as time went on it became clear that, y’know, the kind of resources it was going to take to really make virtual reality happen, for it to penetrate into a consumer market, it was going to take an ungodly amount of money. And Facebook is really going to be able to help us with that.”
Luckey went on to explain that Facebook will continue to invest in Oculus VR over the coming years, referencing CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s shareholder call in which he stated that he sees the headset making money in 5 to 10 years from now.
“It’s nice to think ‘oh no, we’re going to make money earlier than that’ but it’s a lot nicer to know that you have a bit of a runway to keep investing in the technology, not have to worry about making it profitable right now but worry about making the best thing possible for consumers and knowing that if it takes off prices are going to continue to come down rapidly. And we’re in the same building doing the same thing independently and Facebook’s logo will not be on the headset.”
Oculus VR is currently preparing to start shipping its second developer kit (DK2) for the Oculus Rift in July 2014. From there, the company will be working on its first consumer version, though when that device may launch is currently unknown. VRFocus will continue to follow the progress of both Oculus VR and its Oculus Rift headset going forward.