Lots of people are angry about the Oculus Rift’s $599 price tag. It’s hundreds of dollars more than an actual gaming console, and twice as much as the original development kit. It also requires a powerful computer to run — maybe $1,000 if you build it yourself. It’s a gamer’s device.
Call to mind a realistic computer-animated movie and most people will imagine an absurd degree of verisimilitude: for instance, the flowing, wild locks of the main character in Disney’s Brave, where every strand of red hair seems distinct. By this standard, Toybox doesn’t even rate. The firecrackers Luckey conjured looked geometric; the table was not wood or metal or glass—it was simply gray. And yet there was something about seeing even this crude animation all around me, no matter where I looked, that made it feel more real than any animation I’d ever seen.
I forgot, in a matter of seconds, that Luckey and I were standing in separate soundproofed rooms in Oculus’s new headquarters on the Facebook campus. I forgot that the Luckey I saw was but a computer-generated avatar, not the man himself, who was lining up M-80 firecrackers and instructing me to pick up the cigarette lighter on the table. oculus Now light as many as fast as you can,” he said, laughing maniacally. It was fake, and yet as the fuses burned down and the explosions started, I actually did flinch. V.R. enthusiasts call this sensation presence,” and it is a kind of realism that wasn’t really possible until Luckey started putting the Rift together, six years ago.
In April 2012, at the age of 19, he announced that he’d finished his first V.R. device and that he planned to offer it as a do-it-yourself kit on Kickstarter, so that anyone could make his or her own rudimentary system. I won’t make a penny of profit off this project,” he wrote. The goal is to pay for the costs of parts, manufacturing, shipping, and credit card/Kickstarter fees with about $10 left over for a celebratory pizza and beer.” He planned to call the device Oculus (Latin for eye, a supercool word”) Rift (a reference to the way that virtual reality creates a rift between the real world and the virtual world”).
Luckey and Iribe had initially planned on asking backers for a total of $500,000 to complete the prototype, but at the last minute Luckey got spooked and cut the goal in half. Multi-million-dollar enter our Oculus Reift giveaway Kickstarter projects were a rarity at the time, and Luckey worried that if the campaign failed to attract sufficient support that would be it for his idea.