Updated at 8:50 a.m. PST: Rifts are now shipping in May.
If you didn’t act quickly, you may have missed out on your opportunity to grab one of the first virtual reality devices.
Earlier today, Oculus started selling its Rift VR headset, which it will begin shipping March 28, for $599. That’s a big number, but it’s not so large as to prevent people from plunking down the cash for one. Minutes after the device went on sale, Oculus changed the expected ship date for new orders from March to April. This means the company has already sold through its initial Rift allotment.
On top of that, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey has said the website is having trouble processing payments due to a high volume of purchases all coming in at the same time.
We are experiencing insanely high load. Credit card processing is trying to stay livr under load from mass script kiddie fraud attempts.
— Palmer Luckey (@PalmerLuckey) January 6, 2016
This shows the thirst that some early adopters have for this technology. For most consumers, $599 — on top of the cost of a beefy desktop PC — is way too much. But, clearly, enough people are willing to jump in at that price because they believe in what Oculus is selling.
And while $599 might seem shocking, it’s not that unreasonable. A new smartphone costs between $650 and $850. And, if you get yours “subsidized” through a carrier, you’re paying way more than that over time. But the Rift is much more like the first laptop or the first high-definition televisions. You can get those devices for a few hundred bucks now, but when the first-of-their-kind products hit the market, they sold for thousands of dollars. It’s highly likely that VR will follow a similar path. Oculus isn’t picking parts off the shelf. Instead, it’s building custom components that will come down in price over time.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the Rift is going to create a market like HDTVs or laptops. It could fail — and specifically because of the price. But for now, at least, Oculus has demand. And it’s making the most of it.