Oculus is giving free Rift headsets to its original Kickstarter backers

Surprise! Despite its immense growth, Oculus hasn't forgotten its earliest supporters

When Facebook bought Oculus VR in March 2014, it was the ultimate validation for the future of consumer virtual reality - and the US$2 billion (about £1.35 billion) purchase price was an astronomical sum for still-unproven tech.

And it was a far cry from the nearly US$2.48 million (about £1.7 million) raised via Kickstarter about a year and a half earlier. More than 9,500 backers pledged funds to bring the VR project out of the garage and into developers' hands, and some of them were upset and felt like they were owed something extra for being early supporters. Truth be told, Oculus didn't owe them anything more - but the company will give it to them anyway.

Today, Oculus announced that any backers that pledged enough money to receive a development kit back in 2012 - about 7,500 of them - will receive a free Kickstarter Edition of the consumer Rift headset. It'll look and act just like the model that anyone else will be able to pre-order starting tomorrow, but it'll have special branding on the box.

Oh, and it's totally free for those backers who already got a first-gen development headset a couple years back. It'll even include EVE: Valkyrie and Lucky's Tale as pack-in games, just like the consumer boxes.

Oculus will send out a survey to Kickstarter backers by February 1 to gain current addresses and other pertinent information, and the headsets should be "among the first" to be sent out once they actually go on sale. Backers who are located in countries where the consumer Rift isn't going on sale this spring will be offered some sort of alternative, which has yet to be disclosed.

It's a hell of a perk for early supporters, potentially saving them hundreds of pounds on a consumer headset and reminding them that Oculus VR hasn't forgotten the folks who helped them over that early hurdle to relevancy. And hopefully the rest of us will find out the release date and launch price tomorrow when the pre-orders open up for everyone.

[Sources: Kickstarter, The Verge]