Oculus VR has officially announced that its flagship headset, the Rift, will be available for preorders later this year with estimated shipping in the first quarter of 2016.
Although one of the most covered headsets in the media, the Rift is just one virtual reality device in an ever-growing market. Samsung launched Gear VR (in partnership with Oculus) last December. HTC, in collaboration with Valve is working on the Vive headset.
Even Mattel is making a kid-friendly VR headset for View-Master.
Which leads to a question: is the general public is ready for a virtual reality headset system?
With a price tag that could be as high as $400 for the Rift, the initial investment is enough to make you pause. However, the price is in line with, and even cheaper than, the average console game system. So it might not be unreasonably high for gaming enthusiasts.
Then, there is the issue of content. Oculus VR noted in the official announcement that, in the coming weeks, details of the device will be revealed, including hardware, software, inputs, and made-for-VR games. So, the company definitely has content to provide.
However, there are dozens of apps and games on Android that can be used with smartphone compatible headsets, like Gear VR, VR One, Archos VR Glasses, and even Google Cardboard (my favorite). With an app infrastructure already in place, these smartphone-connected headsets are cheaper, and already ready for market consumption.
The question is whether virtual reality headset gaming and content viewing will be the wave of the future, replacing traditional living room experiences. Or, will it simply be another pricy gadget that only early adopters and technophiles are compelled to invest in. I guess 2016 will make or break the virtual reality headset market.