Niantic Labs’ John Hanke will be delivering a fireside chat for AR/VR day (augmented reality/virtual reality) at GamesBeat 2016. Get a ticket here!

Facebook’s Oculus Rift began delivering Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets today to customers in more than 20 countries and regions. The first units are going out to the fans who backed the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that raised $10 million for the startup back in 2012, before Facebook bought the company in 2014 for $2 billion.

While the Samsung Gear VR shipped for mobile devices last fall, the launch of the Rift is viewed as the beginning of a new era in virtual reality, which is expected to be a $30 billion market by 2020, according to tech adviser Digi-Capital.

The first units are arriving at locations today, and the first preordered Rifts will start shipping mid-week and arrive soon after.

“We’re working as fast as we can to get Rifts to customers who preordered,” the company said in a blog post. “If you preordered, you’ll get an email when your order is being prepped, 1-3 weeks prior to shipping, and then another one when your payment method has been charged and your Rift is on its way.”

Dean Takahashi using the Oculus Rift VR headset with Oculus Touch.

Above: Dean Takahashi using the Oculus Rift VR headset with Oculus Touch.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi/VentureBeat

Oculus said that there are 30 games available on the Oculus Store today, including the adventure game Chronos to the sci-fi space battle simulation Eve: Valkyrie. Lucky’s Tale, a VR platformer, is bundled with every Rift.

You can order a Rift on Oculus.com or purchase an Oculus Ready PC and Rift bundle from Amazon, BestBuy and Microsoft Store.

I’ve seen demos of about 18 of the 30 titles, and my favorites include Dead & Buried, AirMech, Dragon Front, and The Climb. But I’ve got many more to see, and I’d like to get my hands on final version of these games in the days to come. Some of the titles have made me seasick, and Oculus has rated the “comfort levels” for each game, ranging from comfortable to “intense” as a kind of warning system for those who are prone to motion sickness in VR. My own views on how quickly VR will take off are summarized here.

The store also has 360-degree videos and photos, with Oculus Video for Rift, Facebook 360 videos, and Vimeo and Twitch livestreams.

“We’ll be adding feature-length movies, new partners, and lots more content to Oculus Video soon,” Oculus said. “You’ll be able to choose from several standalone experiences, including Jaunt VR, which features hundreds of cinematic stories. You’ll also be able to step into Henry and Lost, the first two real-time animated films from Oculus Story Studio, free for a limited time on the Oculus Store.”

In Oculus 360 photos, there are 200,000 destinations you can virtually visit and feel like you’ve been transported to another place.

Every Rift comes with Oculus Dreamdeck, a set of VR vignettes designed to introduce you to the world of virtual reality. Oculus also unveiled Farlands, a tiny alien world that comes with the Rift.

 

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