It’s nearly Rift time! This is the year that Virtual Reality becomes the next big thing in videogames or at least embarrasses itself while trying to, like your drunk uncle trying to dance to Las Ketchup’s Asereje at your sister’s wedding reception.
Depending on who you talk to, Virtual Reality is wither the thing that’ll make games genuinely exciting again, or the most expensive video gaming gimmick, one that’s destined for catastrophic failure.
The very necessary head-mounted displays that’ll drive Virtual Reality are coming soon. Though HTC’s Vive was delayed to April, and PlayStation VR (along with its Wii-sized external processor) is expected at around the same time, we still have no idea when the frontrunner and progenitor of the current craze, Oculus’ Rift is out. Nor, critically, do we know what it’ll cost. For some though, it’ll cost nothing.
In one of the most generous bits of technological good will, Oculus has said that those who bought in to the original Rift Development Kit, backing it on Kickstarter in the early days, will be given a special Kickstarter Edition consumer headset for no extra cost. Like the standard consumer one, it’ll come bundled with two games; Lucky’s Tale and EVE: Valkyrie.
The caveat here though, is that you’ll have to reside in one of the twenty launch countries for the headset. As we in South Africa are so used to technological disappointment, it should come as no surprise then that we’re not one of those countries.
Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom and the United States.
“For those who don’t live in one of those 20 countries, we’re working on an alternative,” Oculus says – so you may yet be in luck.
Pre-orders for the Rift go live later today in those territories. We have no idea what it’ll cost or when it’ll ship.
According to the chaps at Superdata, the market for VR this year could reach $5.1 billion in 2016, and they suggest that the user base will reach 56 million in 2016. Before you roll your eyeballs so hard that they break free from the constraints of your skull, they do think that the majority of the market will be taken up by what they call “Light smartphone” VR.
“Initially, affordable smartphone devices will drive the bulk of sales as consumers first explore virtual reality before committing to the more expensive platforms,” said SuperData Director of Research Stephanie Llamas. “After this first wave, consumers will likely move more high-end VR devices on PC.”
Those who haven’t vomited themselves right out of existence thereafter would perhaps migrate towards the more expensive, premium VR tech that will soon be available; stuff like Vive, PlayStation VR and the Rift.