What virtual reality world is Oculus’ founder living in?

Says VR will drive high-end PC sales

Oculus founder Palmer Luckey was back on reddit this week with a second question and answer session, this time on reddit’s subforum “PC Master Race.” There he plays to the crowd, saying, “I started out my life as a console gamer, but ascended in 2005 when I was 13.” Whatever.

But then there’s this bit where he says VR will drive demand for high-end PCs (good thousand dollar machines) and I have to wonder what world he’s living in. “Most people have not had a reason to own a high-end PC for a long time. VR will change that, much like video-related stuff drove high end CPU adoption,” Luckey said.

Many were surprised last week when Oculus announced its Rift VR headset will sell for $600 (not counting the expensive computer you’ll need to make it work). Part of this surprise comes from Luckey’s own comments about a “$350 ballpark” for the Rift. In his first Q&A session, Luckey did 3 large paragraphs and 500 words worth of gymnastics trying to explain the situation in any tone besides, “I kinda fucked up.” Fine.

But then there’s that AllThingsD interview where Luckey said, “Gamers are not known to be the most affluent population of people. If something’s even $600, it doesn’t matter how good it is, how great of an experience it is — if they just can’t afford it, then it really might as well not exist.”

This was before Luckey got lost in virtual reality land where everyone starts a company that gets bought by Facebook for $2 billion, where one sick day is the difference between making rent, where you take all of your (and your neighbors’) cans and bottles in for the $36 recycling haul.

Now, people shouldn’t be held to their words like a knife to the throat. Circumstances do change and even people, sometimes, change. Two and a half years on and realities set in. But it does seem like the Gear VR, which works with popular Samsung phones owned by many, is closer to Luckey’s earlier vision.

From the same interview where he said a $600 VR hat rather not exist: “There are people who’ve said, ‘You should sell a version with better specs for $1,000,’ but it’d be better to sell it for $200 and sell more of them.”

But back to the point, your $600 virtual reality helmets with limited appeal and even more limited use are not going to drive consumers into buying or building high end computers, no. I paid $9 for a sandwich the other day and it was made wrong and that was enough to ruin my whole day. In fact, it wasn’t even the other day, it was last week. And I’ve brought it up like four times since then in my daily life. People, at least in America, are struggling more and more, and we’re basically getting sold 3DTVs again except I can’t even watch the dang big game on it surrounded by pals, whiz and brewskis.

Steven Hansen