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Oculus Co-Founder: 'Expensive' Virtual Reality Is Still Happening, and That's a Good Thing

"If we are successful, nobody will question how cool VR is. It will all be a matter of cost."

Eric Johnson for Re/code

The first virtual reality headset that Oculus will sell to consumers, the Samsung Gear VR, will be pretty cheap: $99 if you already own a high-end Samsung phone. But more complex and expensive systems are still important, co-founder Palmer Luckey reminded followers in a mini-tweetstorm today.

“Everyone will want VR long before everyone can afford VR,” Luckey wrote. “It is going to be expensive at first, but the cost will drop over time.”

Luckey is referring to headsets like the Oculus Rift that are powered by a personal computer rather than a smartphone. We don’t yet know exactly how much the Rift will cost, but Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe said this year at the Code conference that the “all-in” price for the headset and a strong enough PC would likely start at around $1,500.

(Just as with the Samsung phones needed to power the Gear VR, some gamers already have the PC they’ll need to power the Rift, so the announced-price disparity is a little confusing.)

The technological differences between the two devices are significant. While the Gear VR is meant to be used while sitting down — for example, to watch a boring presidential debate — the Rift will be bundled with an external camera that can track the position of the wearer’s head and body, which makes it possible to stand or even walk around in a limited radius. Oculus also plans to release motion controllers that let you see your hands in a virtual world.

Luckey said it’s a good thing that Oculus is developing for the high end of VR now, even though it will be expensive for early adopters, because the goal is “convincing the world that it wants VR.”

Here are his tweets:

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