My gaming rig is pushing 6 years now, and I can’t play any new games on it unless the graphics quality configuration is set low. Very, very low. It’s about to upgrade the hardware. Gaming these days isn’t too CPU intensive, the GPU is the component that takes the heaviest work load. So ideally I’d just buy a new graphics card, and my rig would be as good as new. Unfortunately, with a 6 year old mother board, I don’t have the necessary expansion slots to fit any of the modern graphics cards. Getting a new mother board would also mean I have to purchase a new CPU, new RAM chips, and since powerful hardware requires a lot of power, I’ll have to get a new PSU as well.
You probably see where this is going: I might as well replace the entire rig. But a new high-end gaming computer is expensive, and when I started thinking about upgrading, I wasn’t really sure if spending all that money on something I wouldn’t use that much was a good idea1). So I put the idea to sleep in the back of my mind. There was one gadget, though, that occasionally woke the idea up again and made me want to set fire to my credit card: The Oculus Rift.
The Oculus Rift is a virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display, and after several prototypes, two development kits and 5 years in development, the Rift is scheduled to be available on March 28 this year. VR is damn fascinating, and the Rift is the first of several consumer VR devices that will hit the market this year. The development kits have mostly received rave reviews, and I’ve talked to a couple of guys who own one of the kits – they really, really like it.
The Rift, the huge potential for fun and it’s indicated price tag of around $350 finally tipped me over the edge: I was ready to get a new gaming rig and a shiny Oculus Rift. The prospect of getting tons of state-of-the-art hardware and a Rift to play with made me giggle like a little girl – until the actual price of the Oculus Rift was announced.
On January 6, the Rift was made available for pre-order with a whopping $599 price tag. This, of course, was the beginning of a massive shit storm for Oculus and its founder, Palmer Lucky. When people think they have to pay around $350 for something, they get sort of pissed when it turns out they have to pay $250 more.
In a Reddit AMA, Palmer tried his best to calm the masses, and cited poor communications – and that giving ballpark figures probably was a bad idea.
“I handled the messaging poorly. […] No more ballparks for now. I have learned my lesson.” — Oculus VR founder, Palmer Lucky.
Considering what the Oculus Rift actually is – the first consumer version of a bleeding edge gadget – perhaps $599 isn’t too bad? The first flat screen TV’s for instance, was damn expensive, too. Being an early adopter is expensive. But I’m in Norway, which complicates things a bit. When ordering to Norway, the price is converted to Euros and raised even more: €699: With today’s exchange rate, that is a massive NOK 6,758. And that’s not including P&P and Norwegian import taxes, which is currently 25%. Cost of getting an Oculus Rift to Norway? At least NOK 8,447 ($954).
In short: The Rift is way too expensive for me. So unless I make it big in the lottery, I’m stuck with my current gaming rig and old fashioned, non-VR gaming at low graphics quality settings for a while still.
1) Of course it wasn’t not a good idea. It’s not exactly like setting fire to money, but it’s close.