The founder of the Oculus Rift, Palmer Luckey has said that the system will require an “ungodly amount of money” if it is ever to sell on the mass market. Whilst speaking on a panel, Luckey explained that the $2 billion Facebook buyout was what was required to help get the system on sale.
“Virtual reality isn’t something you can do very cheaply,” Luckey said, speaking at a NeuroGaming Conference panel. “It’s interesting because, y’know, all of us are working with hardware and I think we all know how difficult it is to launch a consumer hardware product, especially when you need to have some kind of critical mass in order to get to mass market. With a software product you don’t have any overhead, you don’t have to make a million copies for a couple of hundred dollars each before you sell them you can just, y’know, scale organically as you go.
“And it’s really tempting to think that a hardware company can do the same thing, that you can scale organically, that you can just slowly grow over time and hope that eventually you grow up to the scale you need to be to get to the mass market. But unfortunately as time went on it became clear that, y’know, the kind of resources it was going to take to really make virtual reality happen, for it to penetrate into a consumer market, it was going to take an ungodly amount of money. And Facebook is really going to be able to help us with that.”
Luckey said that Facebook will continue investing in the system over the years. “It’s nice to think ‘oh no, we’re going to make money earlier than that’ but it’s a lot nicer to know that you have a bit of a runway to keep investing in the technology, not have to worry about making it profitable right now but worry about making the best thing possible for consumers and knowing that if it takes off prices are going to continue to come down rapidly. And we’re in the same building doing the same thing independently and Facebook’s logo will not be on the headset.”