“So, we have a huge year ahead.” Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe told an audience of developers and press as well as online enthusiasts at the Loews Hotel 2 weeks back. “Gear VR is going to bring virtual reality to millions, Rift is going to enable true presence, and Touch is going to redefine the way we interact in VR. All the games, apps and experiences that you’re working on have the potential to change the world. And this is just the beginning. Everyone in this room is helping to define the next platform. The next leap forward. I can’t wait to see what we achieve together.
And with that, the Iribe introduced Chief Scientist Michael Abrash, promptly leaving the Oculus Connect 2 stage with the elephant still very much in the room. It had been a great keynote, filled with major updates for each of the devices the CEO mentioned in his outro, but it was undeniably (and somewhat amazingly) missing the final punch; date and price. We still don’t know when the next platform arrives and when we’ll be able to see what we can achieve together.
We know the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD) is coming in the first quarter of 2016. Thanks to reporting at Oculus Connect 2, we also know it will cost over $350 USD. But this was arguably Oculus VR’s last major live event before that release and – even with Palmer Luckey warning in advance that pre-orders would not be launched – everyone was expecting at least some further information on this front. But if the company isn’t ready to share that information yet, when will it be?
Those pre-order campaigns have been promised for the end of 2015, and Oculus VR isn’t heading to Paris Games Week, perhaps the last chance in the year for it to make such an announcement on-stage. It’s always possible that the developer will host another event towards the end of the year but, with Oculus Connect 2 still fresh in the mind and the months running out, such a move feels unnecessary.
In truth, the lack of news at last month’s developer conference probably confines the announcement to a sudden, unexpected surprise on the Oculus VR Blog. That’s exactly how the company handled the release window reveal one seemingly innocent afternoon in May and it seems like the last option the company has left right now.
This might all sound a little anticlimactic but, in truth, Oculus VR doesn’t need a podium to shout the news from. As the company proved with May’s announcement, the internet itself will take care of that in no time. The news will be reported on mere minutes after its first announced, it will reach the top of Reddit in seconds and everyone that’s going to pre-order the device will have heard about it within the hour. The follow-up reactions, the podcasts, video interviews, radio broadcasts and TV reports will all follow over the next few days and soon anyone that has more than a passing interest in the tech will know when consumer VR is finally arriving.
Put simply, expect the Oculus Rift’s price and date to be announced anywhere between right now and the very last second of 2015 with little warning. It’s somewhat admirable that the company has managed to take fans this close to the launch of the consumer device – that Q1 window ends in less than 6 months’ time – and yet still have them guessing as they have been for the past 3 years. Consumer VR is almost here, and yet Oculus VR still makes it seem like it’s tantalisingly far away.