Oculus Rift release date, price and system requirements: Oculus Rift slows HTC Vive takeup on Steam

Valve has released figures detailing the number of people using VR headsets to play its games

Oculus Rift at a glance

  • 'Oculus Touch' motion control system delayed till second half of 2016
  • Pre-orders available now, priced at $599.99 (£410)
  • First headsets expected to ship in March 

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Oculus Rift latest news

20/07/2016: Data released by online gaming website Valve has revealed the Oculus Rift is much more popular than the HTC Vive with Steam users and Oculus' headset is stopping the growth of HTC's rival VR headset.

The Oculus Rift CV1, the latest headset to be released by the company, is now being used by 27.8 per cent of gamers in the Steam community and the HTC Vive by 66 per cent.

However, the fast growth of the Oculus Rift - from 4.7 per cent in April 2016, to 27.8 per cent in June has had an impact on the HTC Vive's market share, because the number of people using it has dropped in the last two months - from 66.6 per cent in May to 66 per cent in June.

Valve's data also showed that the previous front runner for VR Steam gaming - the Oculus Rift DK2 - has declined substantially, from 79.1 per cent of the market share in April, to 6.3 per cent in June, demonstrating VR fans are upgrading to the newer iteration.

Valve only added VR headsets to its data recently, but it seems with virtual reality becoming the 'in' way to game, the company had to start counting people accessing its store using something other than a smartphone or a tablet.

12/07/2016: Oculus has announced that all pre-orders have now shipped, and new Rift orders from Oculus.com are shipping within 2-4 business days.

It said in a blog post that the firm has now started to ramp up inventory for retail partners both online and in stores, and added more Rift demos at new retail locations across the US.

As of this month, the Rift will be on sale in Microsoft stores in the US and will expand demo space at Best Buy to more than 500 stores now through the autumn.

Oculus also confirmed that it is on track to launch Touch later this year. This features true hand presence along with a line up of games and experiences later this year. It said that more details about this and the 30-plus launch titles would be made known at Oculus Connect 3, held in San Jose in early October.

11/07/2016: Oculus is working on a system to allow users to touch and feel in VR without the need for special gloves.

The company’s HapticWave project is intended to stimulate the physical sensations using directional environmental vibration, according to MIT Technology Review.

The device, which currently looks a bit like a hot circular metal platter, sits on the table top and the user lays their bare hand on top of it. When active, a system of actuators vibrate depending on the environment that is being stimulated. The plate also contains accelerometers to detect the hand’s movement, and subtly adjusts its vibrations to make them feel more convincing.

Oculus has been testing the device with various demos. One of them features a bouncing ball inside and contained space, where users can feel the object as it impacts different parts of the space, communicating the sensation to the user as a noticeable buzz.

Oculus’ HapticWave is a working-in-progress, and it's not yet know if a commercial release is planned.

More demos of the technology are planned for the Siggraph computer graphics conference.

28/06/2016: Oculus has removed software locks that prevented people from playing its games on the HTC Vive, following complaints from the gamer community.

The games were made available by the Revive software, which launched its software shortly after HTC released the Vive headset in April this year. Oculus, however, soon became savvy to the fact its games could be played on the rival device and created a patch that checked which device was being used, which then blocked games if it didn't detect Oculus Rift.

The block was issued via a software update for the Oculus Rift and although Vive users expressed surprise that Oculus would block these games in the first place, they seem a little calmer now the restriction has been lifted.

"I've only just tested this and I'm still in disbelief, but it looks like Oculus removed the headset check from the DRM in Oculus Runtime 1.5," Revive developer LibreVR wrote in a blog post on GitHub.

"As such I've reverted the DRM patch and removed all binaries from previous releases that contained the patch."

20/06/2016: Researchers have discovered a way to stop people feeling nauseous when using virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift.

Scientists from Columbia University realised that when a user's field of view was adjusted, they could handle being in a virtual reality environment for longer.

The group narrowed the view on 30 volunteers across two sessions after one of the researchers reported he felt sick when using a headset.

Steven Feiner, a professor of computer science at Columbia University explained that virtual reality causes such feelings because visual cues clash with the ear's natural balance system, which uses liquid in the ear canals as a spirit level. When sight suggests there is movement, but the human spirit levels do not, it can cause confusion, which makes users feel nauseous.

The technique developed by Columbia University keeps the field of vision complete when the user is stationary, but when they start moving, it blurs the edges, which reduces the impact of this brain confusion.

"It is critical that the experience be both comfortable and compelling, and we think we've found a way," professor Feiner explained to the BBC.

"The technique is generally useful across a range of applications, so it should have broad impact."

02/06/2016: A VR version of time-bending shooter Superhot is coming exclusively to the Oculus Rift, the game's developers have announced.

Superhot was originally conceived at a 7-day game jam and was released earlier this year to critical acclaim. The first-person shooter's central mechanic focuses on time, which only progresses when you move, allowing you to methodically dodge bullets and line up shots.

"The level of game immersion that you get from playing SUPERHOT in VR is simply crazy," developer Szymon Krukowski wrote in a blog post announcing the news.

He also added that the team had been working with spatial audio, saying "you will be able to for example 'locate' a passing bullet just by the noise it creates".

Also announced was a new DLC package, which will be available for free to all existing Superhot customers. The DLC will include new levels and game mechanics and will "introduce new ways to immerse yourself into more SUPERHOT".

24/05/2016: Facebook has appointed eight new members of its London-based Oculus team in the last six months as it starts work building new applications for the virtual reality platform for Facebook.

Although the social network hasn't confirmed the appointments or revealed what these new engineers and developers will be working on, the company said it'll have more to share on its international plans soon.

The appointments were discovered by The Telegraph, which found eight out of 12 of the London-based Oculus team members started working for the social network in the last six months, according to LinkedIn, and the company is still recruiting for more if job ads are to be believed.

Senior software developer Mike LeBeau joined Oculus at the beginning of this year from Google. He'll be heading up the UK operation and hinted that the company will be working on some very inventive things in the coming months.

"We're going to build some really cool stuff," he wrote in a Facebook post at the time. "The progress and potential for virtual reality technology right now is just bananas," he added. "Oculus is right at the centre of it and I’m super excited to dive in and work with this amazing team of people!"

23/05/2016: Anti-piracy measures that Oculus released have failed to stop committed users from hacking the VR device, and have apparently made some forms of piracy easier.

Oculus released a digital right management (DRM) update on Friday, which was supposed to shut down a user-made hack, called Revive, and curb piracy in the long term. The hack has quickly become a community favourite because it enables Oculus players to run software created for the Oculus on other VR headsets, such as the HTC Vive.

However, it has already been bypassed, and the creator of the Revive hack, known only as Libre VR, claims Oculus’s latest update has made piracy easier.

The original version of Revive used functions from the Oculus runtime and translated them to OpenVR calls – an API compatible with Vive and other headsets. Speaking to Motherboard, Libre VR said the new version of Revive now uses the same implementation method to bypass Oculus’ ownership check completely. And with ownership check disabled the game can no longer determine whether you legitimately own the game.

Despite the hack’s use in piracy specifically, Libre VR asserted that they did not create the hack for this purpose.

“This is my first success at bypassing the DRM, I really didn't want to go down that path. I still do not support piracy, do not use this library for pirated copies,” said Libre VR on a Reddit thread about their latest hack.

The hacker has said they would be willing to work with Oculus on a solution that would allow users to play Oculus game on other headsets without circumventing the ownership check.

Oculus is yet to comment on the situation.

20/05/2016: Oculus relies on owner Facebook to provide security for user data, an American senator has revealed.

Senator Al Franken shared a response from the VR kit manufacturer after asking how it collects and stores customers’ information, with the firm arguing that collecting data on users’ physical movements as they use the Rift headset was vital to delivering a good service.

“VR has the power to change the world by enabling people to experience anything, anywhere, with anyone, and know that this will only be possible if we invest in the security of our community,” Oculus wrote.

Outlining Facebook’s involvement, Oculus said it used 200 security experts from the social network, and stores its data in the firm’s datacentres.

17/05/2016: Oculus has launched a scheme designed to get students and non-profits involved with VR content creation.

The 'VR for Good' initiative is an opportunity for Oculus to help "build a better reality through VR" and will involve ten up-and-coming filmmakers partnering with charities and non-profit organisations.

Each content creator will work with their individual charity to get its message across using the medium of 360-degree video.

Oculus will support the project by supplying technology, equipment and mentoring, as well as help with funding and post-production editing.

The project will also pair professional filmmakers with high school students in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Over six weeks, the students will create three-to-five-minute VR videos about their communities, which will then be showcased at a special event.

Oculus, along with parent company Facebook, is trying to tempt more creators towards the burgeoning VR medium, with Facebook recently announcing the launch of an open source 360-degree camera and video stitching algorithm.

Affordable VR also looks set for a leap forward, thanks to Google Cardboard. Rumours suggest that the company is planning to unveil some major VR developments at its I/O developer conference.

12/05/2016: Samsung Gear VR has sold more than one million units, Oculus has claimed.

The device, which turns Samsung smartphones into the display unit for a mid-tier VR headset, has reached the milestone after six months on sale, according to Oculus, which makes the device along with Samsung.

"A million is kind of a magic number for a lot of people to start taking this seriously," Max Cohen, head of mobile for Oculus told CNET.

Cohen believes that hitting this milestone means that Oculus “starts making more economic sense for others to join in”.

The Gear VR headset has been targeted as a mid-tier device to help this new medium gain more traction in the consumer market. Getting it into the hands of more consumers will certainly make it more attractive to developers.

Oculus recently revealed that more than 250 games have been produced for Gear VR, including children’s favourite Minecraft and action game End Space.

It also said that video content has seen significant useage from Gear VR users - seven of the 10 top most used apps are videos, and so far, 80 per cent of people who use Gear VR watch video content on a regular basis.

In the coming week, Facebook will be adding 360-degree photos to its news feeds, and thy will be visible through the company’s Gear VR headset. Also on the way are updated Oculus Home and mobile apps, intended to make it easier for users to find their recent downloads.

09/05/2016: VRidge, a mobile app for Android, has made it possible to play Oculus Rift games on the low-end VR headsets designed for smartphones.

Using VRidge, the smartphone is able to mimic the stereoscopic output and head-tracking input of the Oculus Rift, enabling previously-incompatible games to be played on the likes of Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard.

The service is currently in beta, being run as a server on a Windows system and a client app on an Android handset.

To enable this workaround requires the user to start VRidge’s server program on their PC, connect the app over the local Wi-Fi network, and finally launch either a demo provided by RiftCat or manually launch a local VR-compatible game from PC storage.

The app, from Polish developer RiftCat, was originally designed merely to emulate the function of the Oculus Rift hardware, but its 5 May update has added functionality for games compatible with Valve's SteamVR standard, including space sim Elite: Dangerous and comedic oddball Job Simulator.

This workaround is reportedly quite rough, with some games forcing users to operate them single-handed. However, it does suggest that the high-end VR experience of Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive may yet come to cheaper platforms sooner than forecast.

VRidge is available from the Google Play Store.

29/04/2016: Oculus is grappling with shipping problems as customers wait impatiently for headsets to get into their hands, according to a newsweek report.

Customers have taken to twitter to sound off about the lack of headsets and delays. In a tweet, Oculus found Parmer Luckey said that he would prefer shortages to "burying Rifts in desert landfills (alluding to the Atari ET debacle of the early eighties).

"Which is a very real concern for any hardware company, especially one trying to predict volumes on a totally new market," he said in a later tweet.

18/04/2016: Oculus has shrugged off data privacy concerns raised by US Senator Al Franken, saying "it'll be fine."

Head of Oculus Studios Jason Rubin was confident when asked about the issues brought up by Franken. "It's a new medium," he said. "People want to know. They have a right to ask. We'll answer."

Franken penned an open letter to Oculus' CEO earlier in the month, asking for more information on the collection, storage and use of Rift users' personal data, including location information.

"We're going to answer all of that in due time," Rubin, stated. "We're absolutely confident that people are going to say, 'Oh. Yeah. Right.'"

14/04/2016: Samsung will make its library of 360-degree video content available to customers through the 'Milk VR' app, reports 9to5Google, accessible even without a Gear VR headset.

The gyroscope/accelerometer hardware inside smartphones makes it possible to view the 360 VR videos without a headset, as users can simply hit play from within the Google Play store and pan around them much like similar content provided by companies such as YouTube.

Those users with a VR headset can still download the video content from the Milk VR app to get the full experience, though only Samsung smartphones are able to play the videos as of right now.

11/04/2016: The US government has voiced privacy concerns about Oculus's terms of service.

Minnesota senator Al Franken has voiced concerns in a letter to Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe, citing the automatic collection of users' data as a possible issue.

"Oculus's creation of an immersive virtual reality experience is an exciting development," Franken wrote, "but it remains important to understand the extent to which Oculus may be collecting Americans' personal information, including sensitive location data, and sharing that information with third parties."

Franken, who sits on the senate subcommittee for privacy and technology, put forward a list of six questions for the company to answer. These included queries as to how long Oculus stored any data gathered, along with whether or not Oculus sells that data on to third parties.

"Consumers must be able to make informed decisions about whether and with whom they share such sensitive information, and they must be assured that, when the information is shared, it will receive the utmost protection," Franken said.

The senator's questions are particularly interesting in light of Oculus's relationship with its parent company, Facebook. The social network is notoriously data-hungry and has come under fire recently over data privacy regulation.

France has threatened Facebook with legal action after its data protection regulator found the company was not complying with a number of regulations by retaining users' medical data, not explicitly saying what it does with users' sexuality data, and failing to get appropriate consent to use people's personal information to target ads at them.

As one of the first companies exploring an uncharted medium, Oculus may face similar hurdles as a regulatory framework is established around VR.

The stated deadline for the company to respond to Franken's letter is 13 May. While the company has no legal obligation to respond to the Senator's letter, Oculus has traditionally been swift in addressing concerns with its business practices.

04/04/2016: Oculus is offering shipping refunds to pre-order customers still waiting for their devices to arrive nearly a week after the release date.

Rifts were meant to arrive with customers on 28 March, but Oculus has blamed supply chain problems for the delays, telling customers they will receive free shipping on all pre-orders, including international ones, according to chief executive Brendan Iribe.

Founder Palmer Luckey told fans on Reddit: "I am not going to wax poetic about this, since I have done so in the past, but bottom-line: I won't give in-depth updates on any situation without knowing it is solid, true, and finalised. 

"Until I can do so, the best I can do is remind people that I will get them information as quickly as I can."

Oculus said it will update customers about their orders on 12 April.

04/04/2016: Oculus Rift has come under fire for seemingly collecting information from users and sending it to "related companies".

The activity was discovered within the terms of service that accompanies the consumer virtual reality headset, reports The Independent, which is now being sent out to the first users.

"Information about your physical movements and dimensions when you use a virtual reality headset" will be collected, read a line in the device's terms and conditions.

Once the Oculus software is installed on a PC, it has the ability to track what the headset is doing - the same ability that allows it to sense when it is being used - and it can send the information back to the company. From here, Oculus can send the data to advertisers.

Despite the terms confirming that the information will only be used to "send promotional message and content" to the user, it can also be sent to 'related companies' such as Facebook and, by extension, services such as WhatsApp.

01/04/2016: Consumers who are yet to receive their Oculus Rift VR headset may contact the company’s customer support team only to discover it does not know where their order is.

The much-anticipated VR headset started shipping to consumers this week. But many consumers – like Forbes contributor, Paul Tassi – are still yet to receive their order, as the headset is rolled out in batches.

According to Tassi, Oculus’ customer service department does not currently keep shipping information for individual customers orders.

In an email to Tassi, Oculus support wrote: “We don’t have shipping information available for specific orders here at Oculus support. The second we have more information available for you we will let you know by email.

“As your order is being prepared for shipment, you will begin receiving status updates on your order. Once your order has shipped you will receive a tracking number which you can use to keep an eye on your order as it makes its way to you.”

Furthermore, customers checking their order history on Oculus’ website for unshipped pre-orders are currently presented with a barebones order listing, with no tracking number or shipping estimate.

Rift headsets are reportedly being dispatched to Kickstarters backers first, as per agreements for the original Kickstarter project. Some customers have received emails saying their orders will ship in one to three weeks.

Launch week woes such as this are not uncommon for new technology products. More updates on Oculus Rift’s continued rollout – and its customer service – when we have them.

In the meantime, you’ll find a round-up of the best Oculus Rift reviews on our sister site, Alphr.

29/03/2016: Oculus Rift headsets began reaching customers yesterday, fulfilling pre-orders made in January, as the device became available to order online.

Ahead of the VR device's launch date, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey delivered the first Rift headset in person to a customer in Alaska, posting a video to his Facebook page showing him hand deliver the product to 33-year-old web developer Ross Martin.

Luckey had previously told game news site Polygon: "I'll be damned if some random delivery guy is going to get the satisfaction of delivering the first Rift. That's mine."

Martin, who watched a short video and played a game using the headset, told Associated Press (via Jakarta Post): "I couldn't stop saying, 'Wow'. If you're a gamer, this is right up your alley." Though he added that he did experience some nausea and said the resolution could be improved.

Oculus plans to send the device to Kickstarter backers first, with the crowdfunding stage dating back to August 2012, followed by fulfilling January pre-orders of the $600 device.

16/03/2016: PlayStation VR is "actually fairly similar in cost" to the Oculus Rift, founder Palmer Luckey has said.

Speaking to GameSpot at Game Developer Conference 2016, Luckey said the headset's cost was "right around what [was] expected".

He also stated that the gulf between PSVR's £350 cost and the Rift's £500 price tag wasn't as large as it may initially appear.

"We're selling [the Oculus Rift for] $599 with a controller, and with the remote, and with a couple of games," Luckey pointed out. "If someone doesn't own them already, [Sony] is selling a camera, a controller, and you've got the headset".

With that in mind, he said, the Rift "is actually not that far off" PSVR in terms of price.

He was also quick to note that his VR headset is more expensive for a reason, saying: "I know how much this technology costs. We're building a headset, we're trying to sell it as affordably as possible."

"We have some higher quality stuff, our manufactured stuff, and we have some really nice soft goods and fabric going on in ours," he explained. "We also have multiple LED displays instead of just one display."

As one of PlayStation VR's top minds already admitted, Oculus has sacrificed affordability in order to produce a markedly higher-quality experience than Sony's offering.

It's a choice Luckey evidently respects. "They are cheaper," he said, "but I think it's a totally fair price and they've definitely done a good job of keeping the cost down. Clearly that was a priority."

10/03/2016: Oculus has announced new social and sharing features to let people interact with their friends in VR.

The new features will be coming first to the Samsung Gear VR, but will presumably also be available on the Oculus Rift following its launch next month.

The biggest announcement is the integration of video content from Facebook into the Oculus Video app. From next week, Gear VR owners can link their Facebook accounts with Oculus Video to get a personalised feed of 360-degree videos based on which accounts they follow.

The company also announced that the ability to like, share and react to 360-degree Facebook videos from within the app would soon be added to the service.

Users can now also create rooms in Oculus Social, creating a private cinema where they can watch Twitch and Vimeo streams with their friends.

Also unveiled were two new multiplayer games. Social Trivia is an Oculus-made quiz game, while Herobound: Gladiators is an arena-based adventure game for up to four people.

Developer tools will be arriving later in the month, Oculus revealed, which creators can use to integrate social features into their games and apps.

04/03/2016: Oculus founder Palmer Luckey has once again blasted Apple fans’ hopes of Oculus Rift compatibility, saying it will only happen “if they ever release a good computer”.

When asked by Shack News if the headset would ever be supported on Mac, Palmer hit out by saying “That is up to Apple. If they ever release a good computer, we will do it.”

The issue is less to do with a genuine Windows bias, however, and more to do with the specific technical limitations of Apple’s machines.

The issue, he says, stems from the fact that the company doesn’t use high-end gaming graphics cards.

“You can buy a $6,000 Mac Pro with the top of the line AMD FirePro D700, and it still doesn’t match our recommended specs,” he said.

“So if they prioritize higher-end GPUs like they used to for a while back in the day, we’d love to support Mac. But right now, there’s just not a single machine out there that supports it.”

Luckey has previously commented on the Rift’s lack of OSX support, tweeting back in December 2015 that “Mac support is on the roadmap post-decent Apple hardware release, whenever that is.”

Apple has shown no inclination to increase the graphical horsepower of its machines, which means that Mac-owning VR fans will likely have to wait until Apple inevitably brings out its own headset.

02/03/2016: Oculus founder Palmer Luckey believes the future of social VR will be “totally new platforms” – and not Facebook.

While showing off the Oculus Rift version of Minecraft at an Xbox press event, The Guardian reported that Luckey was doubtful that Facebook would play a large role in VR's future.

The social network bought Luckey’s company for $2 billion in 2014, and since then, Mark Zuckerberg has been enthusiastic about the potential for interacting with Facebook friends in new ways.

However, according to Luckey, “Facebook the social networking tool as it exists today is not necessarily the future of VR”.

The main problem, he said, is that “Facebook is largely an asynchronous tool” – meaning people are relaying messages to each other, rather than interacting in real time.

While Zuckerberg has been quick to extoll the virtues of 360-degree video, Luckey believes that social VR is going to need to be much more interactive.

“You’re not going to see someone’s VR status update and process it in half a second and keep scrolling,” Luckey explained. “You’re going to want to see real world captures in longer than five seconds – it’s totally different.”

“Virtual reality will be social, but it’ll be on totally new platforms built from the ground up that really push VR, not necessarily applications we have today, he continued. “I don’t think people should think ‘how will Facebook VR become a thing’.”

22/02/2016: Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Oculus-owner Facebook, appeared on stage at Samsung's Unpacked event at MWC 2016 to talk about the future possibilities offered by virtual reality. 

While attendees were wearing Samsung's own VR headset, the Gear VR, to watch a demo of the company's new 360-degree camera, the entrepreneur snuck onstage. Once the delegates had removed their headsets, Zuckerberg proceeded to talk about the collaboration between Oculus and Samsung on virtual reality and what the technology can offer.

"VR is the next platform where anyone can experience anything they want," Zuckerberg told the audience. "It's going to change the way we live and work and communicate."

"Pretty soon we're going to live in a world where everyone has the power to share and experience whole scenes as if you're just there, right there in person," he said.

11/02/2016: Every Oculus Rift headset will ship with a free four-month subscription to the Unity Pro game engine.

The freely-available Unity engine is one of the most common toolkits for creating games, particularly among cash-strapped independent developers and hobbyists.

While the basic package is free, the subscription-based professional version offers access to more tools for testing and finalizing games, such as analytics and performance reporting.

Oculus founder Palmer Luckey announced the news at the Vision Summit 2016 conference for VR and AR developers.

As an explanation for the decision, he cited the fact that a huge amount of early VR content is being produced through Unity.

In addition to anticipated launch titles like Surgeon Simulator and Job Simulator, Luckey told Vision Summit attendees that "something like 90 per cent" of the Samsung Gear VR's software library was made with the Unity engine.

However, Luckey wants to put creation tools in the hands of everyone, not just existing developers.

"For virtual reality, we knew a lot of the best ideas and applications weren't going to come from people that you could predict," he said. "It was going to come from people who would create things you wouldn't expect."

VR rivals Valve also used Vision Summit to announce that Unity would be adding native support for the HTC Vive, as well as distributing free HTC Vive Pre developer kits to every attendee.

In other Rift news, the company has announced the pre-order dates and prices for its PC bundle deals.

Oculus has partnered with Asus, Alienware and Dell to provide 'Oculus Ready' machines, which are guaranteed to work with the headset straight out of the box.

The machines come in a range of specifications and range from $949 to $2349. From 16 February, they are available as bundle packages with the Oculus Rift headset, with an initial starting price of $1499.

Anyone that's pre-ordered the Oculus Rift is also eligible for a discount is eligible for a discount of up to $200 when ordering one of the devices.

Oculus has said that "pre-orders for Oculus Ready and Rift bundles will ship in limited quantities to select countries and regions from retail partners starting in April," but concrete availability for the UK is yet to be announced.

01/02/2016: The Oculus Rift will be irrelevant to Facebook’s annual turnover, according to its CFO.

During the social network's earnings call for Q4 2015, Dave Wehner stated that sales of the VR headset are “not going to be material” to the company bottom line in 2016.

“It’s early in the evolution of VR,” he said. “It’s early to be talking about large volume, so at this point, I don’t think we’re giving a lot of colour around supply chain and that sort of thing.”

This indicates that Facebook is not expecting to see substantial income from the device, which retails at almost $600.

This in itself isn’t surprising. While the device sold out in minutes and is currently back-ordered for around four months, Oculus has repeatedly stated that it is producing the units at cost, with CEO Palmer Luckey stating “we don't make money on the Rift”.

However, it does raise questions over how much Facebook has invested in the Rift, as a substantial amount of funding could be expected to make a very slight dent in Facebook's earnings.

When Oculus opened pre-orders for the Rift at the start of this year, many were surprised at both the steep price and the apparent supply-chain limitations that led to long shipping delays for some customers.

Prior to the launch, some had theorised that the financial backing of Facebook would allow Oculus to produce and ship the device to consumers more quickly and cheaply.

14/01/2016: Desert Bus will be coming to Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR.

Magician Penn Jillette has revealed that he is working with Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford on an updated version of the title for VR devices.

Dubbed ‘the worst game in the world’ by many, Desert Bus is an exercise in mind-numbing tedium and was created in 1995 by magicians Penn and Teller as a commentary on the controversy surrounding violent games at the time.

The game entirely consists of an eight-hour bus drive – in real time – from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada, along a straight, featureless road at 45 miles per hour, with no pauses or breaks.

Today, however, it serves another purpose. Desert Bus for Hope is a charitable organisation that does a live-streamed Desert Bus marathon every year.

Performed as a sort of endurance test, the participants subject themselves to around six days of continuous monotony in exchange for donations and have raised a total of over $3 million.

This is reportedly what the new version will be primarily used for, although fans will presumably be free to torture themselves with it voluntarily, should they so choose. 

07/01/2016: Palmer Luckey has taken to Reddit to answer fans questions on the Oculus Rift pre-order launch in an AMA.

The main topic of conversation was understandably the pre-order price, which has come as a shock to some, costing $599.

Luckey was quick to deflect claims that the price was artificially inflated, reassuring fans that “we don’t make money on the Rift”.

He referenced the high quality of the components used in the device, particularly the OLED display.

“It is expensive,” he conceded, “but for the $599 you spend, you get a lot more than spending $599 on pretty much any other consumer electronics devices."

He also noted that “phones that cost $599 cost a fraction of that to make, same with mid-range TVs that cost $599”, and reiterated that the Rift was selling virtually at cost.

Many Redditors were calling for the Rift’s pre-order bundle – which comes with an Xbox One controller, headphones and two games – to be stripped down in order to provide a cheaper option for consumers.

According to Luckey, however, the expense of including these extras is “insignificant”, and they “just don’t significantly impact the cost”.

“High-end VR is expensive,” Luckey tweeted, “but Rift is obscenely cheap for what it is.”

06/01/2016 - 16.16: The Oculus Rift is now available for pre-order, starting at $599.99. It is expected to ship in March.

The price, which does not include tax and shipping, has drawn criticism from some fans on social media, many of whom say it is more than they are willing to pay.

While no localised pricing is available, this works out to around £410 at current exchange rates, again before tax. With the various duties included, UK pre-orders will end up costing around £500.

It is unknown whether or not pricing will fall after the device goes on general release.

05/01/2016 - 16.43: Oculus’ original Kickstarter backers will be receiving free Oculus Rift consumer headsets, the company has announced.

Anyone that registered to receive one of the original Developer Kits by pledging $300 or more in the 2012 campaign will receive a special ‘Kickstarter Edition’ of the finished product.

Over 5,600 backers are eligible for the offer, and as with preorders, the devices will ship with free copies of Lucky’s Tale and EVE: Valkyrie.

Backers must claim their free Rift by filling in a survey, which Oculus says Kickstarter will send out before 1 February.

However, the offer is only available to residents of the 12 countries that the Rift is launching in.

The company says it is “working on an alternative”, but has not disclosed what that alternative is.

The flurry of news from the company also indicates that it is almost certainly gearing up to announce the final launch date of the Oculus Rift at CES.

05/01/2016 - 09.53: Pre-order dates for the Oculus Rift will open on 6 January, the company has announced.

From 8AM PST (4PM GMT), VR fans will be able to place their orders for the device on Oculus’ website.

To mark the launch and answer the presumably numerous questions that fans will have, founder Palmer Luckey will be staging a Reddit AMA on Tuesday at 6PM PST (Wednesday 2AM GMT).

New details about the Rift and its launch are expected to be revealed during the session, with further information coming at CES 2016.

Also anticipated at the Las Vegas technology show are major announcements from the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR.

04/01/2016: The Oculus Rift’s second launch title has been confirmed as Lucky’s Tale.

The cartoon platformer, which is being published as a first-party exclusive by Oculus Studios, will be included for free with every Oculus Rift headset.

Lucky’s Tale features an animated cartoon fox as its hero and appears to owe a debt to classic genre icons like Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter.

It will be played with the Xbox One gamepad (also included) rather than the Oculus Touch motion controllers, however, as their launch has been delayed.

According to a blog post, the company has “decided that we need more time before release, and we’ll now be shipping Touch in the second half of 2016”.

“The feedback on Touch has been incredibly positive, and we know this new timeline will produce an even better product, one that will set the bar for VR input. We appreciate your patience and promise Touch will be worth the wait.”

22/12/2015: Oculus has released the first consumer versions of the Rift to developers.

In advance of its Q1 launch, the company is sending out the first iterations of its headset as it will appear on shelves, along with the Rift SDK 1.0.

The news was announced in an email to developers preparing titles for the Oculus Rift, as well as in an official blog post.

The units are still technically classified as “early builds”, but are thought to be basically identical to the finished consumer product.

The real news is the new iteration of Oculus’ development software, which now includes support for “features tied to the consumer product”.

Because of this, they’re limiting the current run of dev kits to studios that are “putting final touches on launch titles”, with everyone else advised to use pre-existing resources.

The company will be releasing new Rift units every week up until the (still unspecified) launch in 2016.

10/12/2015: EVE: Valkyrie will be bundled free with pre-orders of the Oculus Rift as a launch title, it has been announced today.

A spin-off of CCP Games’ wildly popular MMO EVE: Online, EVE: Valkyrie is a first-person space combat sim which sees players put behind the controls of a starfighter.

As demonstrated by Elite: Dangerous, space games are excellent for showing off VR technology, and early builds of Valkyrie have often been used at conventions and events to demo the Oculus Rift.

“EVE: Valkyrie is one of the most anticipated virtual reality games, and one of the first true VR games to go into development,” Oculus founder Palmer Luckey said. “It perfectly captures the promise of immersive gaming, shooting you into a sci-fi adventure as you pilot a spaceship in search of combat.”

“Battling your friends (and enemies) in multiplayer space dogfights is the ultimate VR thrill, and we’re excited to partner with CCP to bring this experience to Rift owners everywhere.”