Palmer Luckey, the founder of virtual Reality business Oculus VR, has apologised for misleading consumers in September when claiming the Oculus Rift would be priced in the “ballpark” of $350.
In a written apology published on Reddit, Luckey confessed that when he was making such estimates about the Oculus Rift price being close to $350, it was known to him internally that the price would be closer to $600.
It appears that his explanation for misleading people was a means to counter another falsehood, that the Oculus Rift would cost somewhere close to $1,500.
“I handled the messaging poorly,” Luckey began.
“Earlier last year, we started officially messaging that the Rift [with a] recommended-spec PC would together cost roughly $1,500. Many outlets picked the story up as ‘Rift will cost $1500!’
“[Then] 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.”
He went on to explain that, when making his infamous estimate, he was aware that a $600 price tag was likely.
“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.”
In October, Luckey had a second chance to clarify the messaging on price, when asked by RoadToVR whether the $350 ballpark price was accurate.
“You know, I’m going to be perfectly honest with you,” he began.
“We’re roughly in that ballpark… but it’s going to cost more than that.” He did not make any suggestions that it would cost nearly double that amount.
On Wednesday Luckey’s team opened pre-orders on the Oculus Rift consumer model, revealing the device’s final $600 price tag. The first batch sold out in minutes. Luckey said the price was “obscenely cheap” considering the technology packaged in each device, and claimed that each unit sells at a loss.
The news triggered an immediate backlash from some fans. Later that day, during an Ask Me Anything interview on Reddit, Luckey appeared to show regret for mismanaging expectations.
Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus VR
“Later on [after the $350 claims], 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.”
The Oculus Rift consumer model will come packaged with an Oculus Remote, a standalone motion sensor, and an Xbox One controller following a partnership between Oculus VR and Microsoft.
In an extraordinary statement added to his apology, Luckey attempted to placate fans by suggesting they might want to sell the controller at no loss to Oculus or the consumer.
He said: “The Xbox controller costs us almost nothing to bundle, and people can easily resell it for profit.”
It is not clear how much Microsoft loses for every Xbox One controller it bundles with a Rift.
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