We don’t know exactly how many units of the Oculus Rift have been shipped or sold, but it’s safe to say Facebook didn’t like the number. This week, the company cut the price of the VR headset and controller bundle by $200 — great news for anyone on the fence about buying one, but it’s never great news for a company when they need to make drastic price cuts within a year of launch.
Facebook is implementing the savings by cutting the price on individual components. The Rift headset by itself is being dropped from $600 to $500, while the set of wireless touch controllers is coming down from $200 to $100. The extra room sensors are also getting cheaper, and will now sell for $60 each. Anyone who purchased a Rift bundle within the last 30 days will get a $50 in Oculus Store credit.
The slumping sales reflect Oculus’ position in the uncomfortable middle of home VR. The most successful headset by far has been the cheapest — in a recent New York Times feature, Sony revealed that it’s nearing 1 million units of the PlayStation VR shipped. With a cheaper price tag and a ready-made consumer base of PlayStation 4 owners, Sony has seen a lot of success. It’s unclear exactly how the Rift stacks up to the HTC Vive headset in terms of sales, but because of the Vive’s more advanced positional tracking and its greater popularity on Steam (about 2:1), it appears Rift is quite a ways behind its nearest competitor, too. Granted, Oculus originally relied on only its own store, but that locked-down approach may have turned off early VR enthusiasts. Whatever the case, sales for home VR headsets across the board fell well below the millions of units that many analysts had predicted at the beginning of 2016.
There is some good news for Oculus. The biggest barrier to adoption has always been the need for a high-powered and expensive PC, and in the last year, we’ve seen several cheaper rigs and even laptops that can run handle VR apps. Still, it’s going to be tough to convince mass numbers of people who don’t have or need a PC to buy one for the sake of VR, especially with mobile VR headsets like Samsung Gear VR selling well into the millions.