Oculus has had a roller coaster of a year. It got bought by Facebook for $2 billion. That drove the Internet insane, to the point of death threats. So all this must mean that the Oculus Rift is moving units by the crate, right? Nope.
If you wanted proof that yet again, VR isn’t going to meet the hype, look no further than TechCrunch’s report on the company’s sales numbers:
Oculus Rift tells TechCrunch that it’s sold about 25,000 second-generation “DK2” development kits to developers since the pre-order page went live March 19. It says it sold about 60,000 first-generation “DK1” units over the lifetime of that kit.
Do the math and it’s sold about 85,000 kits. To be fair to Oculus, the company works really hard to manage expectations; they’ve made it clear that this is a dev kit, not a consumer release, and that they’ve beat out their internal projections. That’s a rare bit of honesty and humility in an industry rife with chest-thumping ego and inflated numbers.
On the other hand, preordering the Crystal Cove “dev kit” will cost you about $350 and anybody can order one. This isn’t to knock the technology, which is undeniably impressive even at twice the price. But it’s hard to think of a device more heavily hyped in gaming. John Carmack quit id Software, the company he founded, to take over as CTO of Oculus. Everywhere you go, developers rave about the technology and what it can do. And yet, the numbers so far don’t back the hype.
It’s hard not to see this as a little bit of gaming history repeating. But we are pulling for Oculus, if for no other reason than if the company collapses, we live in mortal fear of what Facebook will do with the technology.