Oculus, the Facebook-owned virtual reality company, today announced that its signature product, the Rift, will start taking pre-orders on Wednesday, January 6, at 8 a.m. (PST).
The Rift is one of three high-end consumer VR rigs expected to go on sale in 2016, effectively launching that end of the mainstream VR market spectrum. Already, lower-end mobile VR gear is widely available in the form of Google Cardboard, which works with both iPhones and Android devices, and Samsung’s Gear VR, which works only with high-end Samsung smartphones.
Oculus, which Facebook bought for $2 billion in 2014, said that the Rift will come with a Microsoft Xbox controller and a selection of games and experiences, including Lucky’s Tale by Playful and CCP’s EVE: Valkyrie for free with every pre-order.
A separate peripheral, Oculus’ Touch controllers, which allow for positional tracking of VR users, meaning that their hands and arms can be incorporated into games or other content, is expected to be released later this year. The company recently said the Touch’s release would be delayed a bit, until design work was completed.
Later on Wednesday, at 6:00 p.m. (PST), Oculus founder Palmer Luckey will answer questions during a Reddit AMA, according to a blogpost from Oculus.
When all three are launched, the Rift, along with HTC’s Vive and Sony’s PlayStation VR, will comprise the first generation of high-end consumer VR. Each will be tethered to a computer–or the PlayStation 4 in Sony’s case–and will cost substantially more than mobile VR headsets like the Gear VR, which sells for $99.
Neither HTC nor Sony has released pricing for their devices, although HTC said that the Vive will be released in April.
There’s little doubt that VR is coming, and fast. Analysts predict that by 2020, the entire virtual reality ecosystem will generate $30 billion in annual revenue, while VR content alone is expected to be worth $5.4 billion a year by 2025.
One place VR is expected to be big is at this week’s CES, in Las Vegas. Dozens of virtual reality companies will be on hand to show their wares.