It's been a rough go for some of the folks who pre-ordered the Oculus Rift, as a component shortage has pushed back deliveries by weeks and even months at a time - and many are still waiting. So why is Oculus VR about to start selling the units outright?
That question is on a lot of minds today and Oculus VR has announced plans to start selling the virtual reality headset via select U.S. retailers. Amazon will begin offering the headset this Friday, 6 May, while 48 Best Buy stores in the States will offer in-store demos starting on 7 May and have limited units for sale, too.
While surely thousands and thousands of people await the hardware they ordered months ago, soon anyone will be able to log onto Amazon or walk into one of those Best Buy stores and at least have a chance at picking up a unit with no strings attached - although we imagine those units will sell out immediately. Unsurprisingly, many would-be early adopters are furious right now.
It's not like Oculus is overlooking the conundrum here. In fact, there's a stinging passage in the official blog post that encourages people with pre-orders to try and buy a Rift in stores instead. If successful, they'll still get the pre-order benefits of the EVE: Valkyrie Founders Pack and priority status for the Touch controller orders later this year.
But in the process, they'll be encouraging Oculus VR's apparent disinterest in honouring customer pre-orders above all. And why assume Oculus will honour those "priority" Touch pre-orders down the line when they won't do the same now for the headsets?
Virtual reality needs to be seen and experienced to be believed, and getting the Rift demos into retail stores should do a lot of good for the technology on the whole - and not just the Rift either. But selling the units to walk-in customers while die-hards hold their unfulfilled pre-order receipts will only damage trust in the company.
It's probably too late for Oculus to back out of its current plan, and it's likely that the company agreed to this retail availability months back - but hopefully they can make amends for this mess with their pre-ordering customers in some way.
[Source: Oculus VR]