Breaking, Game Developer Conference (GDC), Hardware, News, Virtual Reality (VR)

Oculus Rift Retail Box is Bigger than we Expected

When Oculus announced the final specification and launch details of Rift VR headset on CES 2016, the company also announced they will be returning to the carrying case in which Oculus shipped the first Development Kit (DK1). At the Game Developers Conference 2016, we visited the Oculus booth and saw the retail packaging live. First and foremost, materials are of premium quality, and you feel you’re getting your 600 USD worth. But no, you’re not getting the DK1’s protective box.

Oculus Rift retail box, up and close

The box is actually bigger than the first or second developer kit (DK1, DK2 or Crescent Bay). The reason for that is simple – previous prototypes did not feature the final design of the tracking device, which is located on the right. As you can see, it requires an USB 3.0 connection to work.  The box unfortunately, is premium profiled cardboard (original DK1 shipped in rugged plastic) with metal and a solid rope (handle).

The only really weird feeling is that the Rift uses no less than five different textures on the plastic used. Xbox One controller isn’t helping with two more. This actually shows that Rift is a first generation product and that the company is still a bit rough around the edges.

Oculus Rift retail packaging

Still, if you are one of those 9,522 people that supported Oculus on Kickstarter – this is the second pack you will receive. In our conversations with Oculus representatives, they did hide their pride in bringing “a project to life that no one believed in.” To give context to this statement, you need to go back at the time when Palmer Luckey was everything but what his family name implies. He managed to assemble a very small team of people, but getting funding to make their vision a reality was a pipe dream. Similar to other hardware startups like, like Jan Goetgeluk’s Omni concept – Palmer could not get traction until crowdfunding and Kickstarter appeared on the market.

Oculus Rift does look premium, but does it justify an $599 price tag? Personally, I believe Oculus should have just recommended a game controller, and leave Microsoft’s Xbox One controller out (it has absolutely zero Oculus branding). That would bring the price down to $549.99, i.e. almost ten dollars less than the “$399.99” Sony PlayStation VR, which requires over $150 worth of add-on hardware (unless you bought those add-ons previously).

  • Kraufthauser

    If they would have left out the xbox controller the price wasn’t gonna be 50 dollars less. They almost handed out the controller for free.

    • According to our conversations with sources, wholesale price for the controller which Oculus / Facebook is paying is in the $18-20. The USB charging cable is $1.0-1.15.

    • Alan Li

      On what grounds do you base that on? Does it even make economic sense? Nothing is ever free, and I’m sure there were plenty of licensing fees involved in packaging extra games and a Microsoft controller. Palmer Luckey is not out to do charity here.

      • Lego_Addict

        It’s not free, but buying controllers directly from the manufacturer with licensing is going to be so much cheaper than from a big-box store. If anything they are buying the controllers at-cost for the bundles, and that is much less than $50.

        • Alan Li

          And what makes you think they’re selling it to us at cost?

          • Lego_Addict

            From some apparent insider info regarding the massive shipping delays surrounding this run if the Rift.

            Also, I didn’t say I was 100% sure that they were selling Oculus the controllers at cost, I left room for error. On top of that, Oculus has stated that they price addition for the controllers was negligible compared to the other components (if I recall correctly, that is. It’s been a while since I did any research regarding the Rift)

  • Jake Locker

    The headphones, games, and controller cost them almost nothing and they threw them in as a value add. It isn’t Oculus vs PSVR it is Oculus vs HTC Vive and they’re both priced competitively. The PSVR is nice but corners were cut to drop the price. The PS eye costs $50 bringing the true cost to $450. Then you need to buy wireless headphones (assuming you don’t have them) which costs $80 for the PS Gold Wireless headphones. Now you’ve got a price of $530. Now you’re talking $70 to double the pixel density making the price difference fairly inconsequential which represents a distinction between premium vs basic. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m getting the PSVR and I’ve already pre-ordered my CV1.

    • Jared Tapia

      “Then you need to buy wireless headphones (assuming you don’t have them) which costs $80 for the PS Gold Wireless headphones”

      Not if the headset has a headphone jack built into it, which seems like a really easy addition. The controller for the PS4 already has the headphone jack on it, so even if the PSVR doesn’t have one, you can still use the one on your controller, which STILL negates the need for a set of wireless headphones.

      • Jake Locker

        Aux headphones are almost definitely going to lack surround sound (simulated or otherwise) and with a cord swinging all over the place it hardly seems like a comparable experience. So, thanks for validating my comment that it is a corners cut vr product.

        • Jared Tapia

          Surround sound in VR is very different than surround sound with multiple speakers around your room. In every VR experience to date, they use stereo headphones because you can get that same suround sound experience with only two speakers. This is because unlike the sound from speakers, which is stationary (but can give the illusion of moving), directional sound in VR is dynamic depending on the orientation of the headset. It still uses the same smoke and mirrors to show sound between them (making left channel slightly louder than the right, making you sense the sound as coming from slightly left) but you ca actually move your head and change where the noise comes from, similar to in a standard screen-game.

          Just FYI, no other VR headset uses “surround sound” headphones, since most of them are only actually using virtualized surround sound driven through two drivers (or set of drivers, since some have tweeters, and subs) but almost none of them are “true” surround sound. But not only that, you just don’t NEED surround sound headphones for VR, because you can get just as convincing an experience with stereo headphones and good positional audio translation. You wanna know why? Because we as humans only have two microphones, or stereo, to pick up sound with (ignoring the resonance you internally feel) ,or binaural audio. Using the correct software, you could simulate EXACTLY what sounds each ear hears, how loud they are, how muffled, etc. which we at least know Oculus is doing (http://www.roadtovr.com/oculus-rift-dk2-realsense-3d-audio-preview-download/), then the premium for SIMULATED surround sound headphones is pointless. Granted, only Oculus is for sure using this technology, but it is hardly a stretch to think the Sony and HTC won’t be able to make something similar with their audio drivers.

          In other words, stereo headphones are not a good place to look for corner-cutting in the PSVR. Are they cutting corners in other areas, though? Yes, most likely. It’s hard to see how PSVR could be $100-300 cheaper than the Vive and Rift without cutting SOME corners, but audio isn’t one of them.

          I realize I am ignoring issues like headphone microphonics.

          • Jake Locker

            I don’t believe the controller supports virtual surround sound like I had said about the aux headphones because you have to either use a usb port or the optical out. Then there is also the comfort of gaming headphones vs traditional for extended wear time, the sound quality, and the fact you still have to pay for even cheapo headphones. I don’t have anything against the PSVR; check my older comments. I’m just saying these fanfest articles which are completely biased need to be taken into context.

          • Jared Tapia

            Thing is, the controller doesn’t HAVE to support the VR-ified virtual surround sound, just stereo. The virtualization is being done on the computer’s end and pushed out to the headphones over the standard stereo headphone jack. This is actually the prefered method in VR, since it reduces the amount of processing steps the audio has to make before being heard, thereby reducing latency (which is at a premium with any sort of VR application).
            Take a look at the videos on this page: http://realspace3daudio.com/demos/ Those are examples of the surround sound capabilities with standard stereo headphones and good processing. The only difference between these demos and actual VR is that these are recorded and pre-rendered (since you are watching a video) while they will be live and processed on-demand in VR.

          • Alan Li

            The thing is, I already own a gaming headset, and I have plenty of gamepads. And I don’t really care about the prepackaged games. If the had put out a bare bones oculus rift and knocked $100 of the price, I would have purchased it.

          • Lego_Addict

            … That’s the point I was trying to make, though, You don’t NEED any special headphones with 20 drivers to get VR-ified surround sound, you literally only need a pair of stereo headphones, which is something most people have. Granted, most people have shitty stereo headphones worth less than the copper and plastic they are made with, but that’s why they come with the built in headphones. Hell, the cost of the included headphones is nearly negligible compared to the cost of all the other components. The most expensive additional piece to the entire kit is probably the controller.

            Also, I just realized I’m logged in under my username from Jr. High. Ew…

    • You’re right – so it is $80 for the wireless headphones, $60 for the camera in store (or 44 bucks on Amazon), and the controllers – Sony told us that you should not use the gamepads, but rather the PlayStation Move. Good thing is that they launched the VR Launch Bundle for $499, and it still does not include the Wireless Headphones. http://blog.us.playstation.com/2016/03/18/playstation-vr-launch-bundle-pre-orders-start-tuesday/

  • Skippy2Ton

    @Theo is there any chance you could post measurements of the box here? I’d like to build an enclosure for mine so it’s ready by delivery.

    • Hi Skippy, I have asked the Oculus team, and quite frankly, they had no idea – and all the boxes were under a glass panel. They will get back to us, and we will update the story. I could give you guesstimates, but that would not do justice. You’ll have to hang on until after the weekend, I am afraid.