"We decided, in the end, to optimize quality over cost."
- Oculus founder Palmer Luckey
The internet is aflame with discussions of the final price point for the initial Oculus Rift headset -- $599 in the U.S. and more in European territories.
But in a new interview with Polygon, conducted after the price was announced, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey explains the reasons the price came in so much higher than earlier estimates, which were in the neighborhood of $350.
The current price marks a big U-turn for Luckey, who told All Things D in 2013 "If something’s even $600, it doesn’t matter how good it is, how great of an experience it is -- if they just can’t afford it, then it really might as well not exist."
Turns out that Facebook money bought Oculus a major tech upgrade over what the company initially planned to sell at the Rift launch.
"The Facebook resources allowed us ... to say we want to make custom panels. What would a made-for-virtual-reality panel look like? How high can we push the refresh rate on these panels, how low can we push the persistence, how high fill can we get on these? What can we do with multiple displays with optics that are a sealed package and move to adjust [interpupillary distance]?"
After the major upgrades the company made to its prototype hardware post-acquisition, "It was hard to look at what we had made before and say, 'Yeah, this is consumer-ready, this is what everyone is going to want,'" Luckey said.
He also claims that the hardware sold faster than he anticipated, despite the price.
You can read the full interview over at Polygon.
We've also spoken to VR game developers and industry analysts about the hardware's price, if you're curious about their take; we've also compared the Rift to other major hardware launches in the game space to see how its pricetag stacks up.