Oculus confirms pre-orders for Rift VR headset to start 8am PST on 6 January

5 Jan 2016

2016 will be the year of virtual reality (VR) and the starting gun will be fired by Facebook-owned Oculus tomorrow, 6 January.

2016 will be the year of virtual reality (VR) and the starting gun will be fired by Facebook-owned Oculus, which has revealed that pre-orders for its Rift VR headset will begin at 8am PST on 6 January (4am Thursday morning GMT).

While the Oculus Rift will remain out of reach for most consumers at $1,000 a pop, the chances are that few consumers would even have PCs capable of handling demanding VR apps.

Just as CES 2016 rumbled into action, graphics card maker Nvidia said that only 13m PCs in the world have the graphics cards capable of handling VR in 2016.

Gartner estimates that only 1pc of PCs in use currently have the graphics capabilities.

VR battle gets real as Oculus finally launches

But, either way, Oculus, bought by Facebook in 2014 for $2bn, is powering ahead with its much-anticipated launch. Other players ready to enter the fray include Microsoft with its HoloLens headset, HTC with its Vive headset in April and Sony with its PlayStation VR headset. Samsung is already pushing the agenda of smartphone-based VR experiences with its Samsung Gear headset, which it developed in collaboration with Oculus.

Oculus revealed that every Rift that will be sold will come bundled with Lucky’s Tale by Playful and CCP’s EVE: Valkyrie for free.

Oculus founder Palmer Luckey will also be answering questions during a Reddit AMA that will take place on Wednesday 6 January at 6pm PST.

How quickly consumers will adopt VR is a big question. Already users can access smartphone-compatible VR headsets like those from iCandy or Immerse for less than €40, while Samsung’s Gear has yet to hit the market.

But how much consumers are willing to pay for the more graphics intensive PC and console VR headsets will depend on the quality of the experiences and games created by developers.

TrendForce estimates that VR headset shipments will jump to 14m in 2016 and to 38m by 2020.

Oculus image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years