updated 11:35 am EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
Facebook not expecting mass adoption of version one of the product
Executive interviews at E3 have spelled out exactly what the Facebook expects from the early stages of its Oculus Rift VR headset release. Oculus CEO Brendan Irebe pointed out some areas that he was expecting the device to improve on before release, and revealed that he is expecting "north of a million" device sales of the first consumer version of the headset, which may sell at cost to help improve adoption.
Facebook's agreement to buy the company, worth approximately $2 billion, is split down between $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock, currently worth $1.6 billion, with an extra $300 million cash and stock earn-out on top for achieving certain milestones. The purchase is what is enabling the rollout and product improvements in a rapid manner.
"It's not going to be a console-scale market," Irebe told Ars Technica. "It always could be, but that's not the goal. The goal is to set expectations low, get the enthusiasts and early adopters to get into the space, get their feedback, get developers making really great content."
Irebe noted that improvements expected before consumer product launch are higher resolution, better and more consistent frame rate, improved accuracy in motion tracking, and other user comfort issues -- including a possible reduction in the weight of the headset.
Regarding games for the device, Irebe said that "in the near future, not necessarily the next few months, but a matter of months from now, hopefully -- we always say less than two years, some kind of time from here -- we're hoping there's a lot more rich, made-for-VR content that gives people things to do. As that kind of comes together, we have the hardware in place for consumer V1, and there's a lot of content, and there's a platform and an ecosystem for people to be able to monetize, that will all come together for a consumer V1. There's a lot of rich content being made, but we need a lot more of it."
"I'm hopeful we're not going to be losing money on [the hardware], but I think everybody agrees that if we can do it at cost that would be great for everybody," Iribe noted. "As Mark [Zuckerberg] says, as you start to get to race to scale there are a lot of opportunities to monetize that are really great for consumers, because they get a really low-cost product."