The 28th of March was the exciting big launch date of the Oculus Rift, when the premium VR headset would ship to those who had pre-ordered it. Except… It didn’t. Oculus originally generated a lot of excitement by shipping some units early, with some Kickstarter backers of the original devkit, who were promised a free consumer version, receiving their Rifts on launch day. In spite of this promising news, only a small amount of units actually went out to a handful of customers who pre-ordered, and only US Kickstarters received their free Rift. A considerable amount of people who were promised their Rift in March, myself included, had the date pass by without any sort of update from Oculus.
Naturally, people began to get curious as to what had happened with their orders. Oculus and its founder, Palmer Luckey remained tight-lipped on what was delaying the orders. This caused even more frustration with dedicated VR fans as it was unlike the company, who usually interacted with fans regularly via Twitter and the Oculus Reddit forum.
Despite generally positive reviews, issues with the headset began to surface. The optics weren’t as perfect as reported by the media, the fabric got dirty very quickly, a promised adaptor for those with glasses was not included, and a mysterious service connected to Facebook servers, that runs even when the Oculus software isn’t, was discovered. These issues exacerbated the uneasiness of customers. Anyone who contacted Oculus support looking for answers were brushed off, being told they would receive an update when their Oculus Rift shipped.
Reddit user VR-Researcher, who in the past has predicted/leaked accurate information regarding the Rift, made a post in the Oculus subreddit implying that the fault was not Oculus’, but due to a third party, and that Oculus was contractually bound to keep quiet on the issue. Reddit users speculated amongst themselves, and came to the general conclusion that the issue was somewhere on the logistics side of things. This would make sense, as Rifts were supposedly being manufactured several months before the release date. Shortly after their initial post, VR-Researcher made another post explaining that things were “being resolved” and Rifts would finally ship out en-masse starting starting next week.
A few hours later, an email was sent out to those who had placed pre-orders, claiming that a component shortage for the reason for the delay. It went on to state that as an apology, shipping would not be charged on all Rifts currently pre-ordered and not shipped. Some customers who have already received their Rift have stated that they have received a refund from Oculus that equals their shipping cost.
While the free shipping could mean that the issue was with Oculus’ shipping partner, and that Oculus would rather simply eat the cost of shipping than further delay units while they integrate the new company into their store, we’ll likely never know the true reason for the juddery start to the ‘VR revolution’. On the bright side, it looks like the issue that was bottlenecking Oculus Rifts from being sent out has finally been resolved. Now that Oculus has communicated with their customers, the only thing left to do is sit tight and wait for the VR headset to arrive. Or, if you’re me, install Oculus Home and download as much as possible and constantly refresh your email account, hoping to see a shipping notification.
As an aside, it’s worth noting that Oculus titles Henry and Lost are being listed as free for only a limited time, so it’s advisable to grab them now, even if your Rift is a while away.