Oculus Rift plus Touch drops to $399 in a move that could shake up the VR wars

In a surprise move revealed this morning, the Oculus Rift VR headset plus the all-but-essential Touch motion controllers dropped in price to a total of just $399 for the full package. The price drop follows a previous price cut on March 1, and drops the Rift substantially below its primary competition in the PC VR space, the HTC Vive, which remains $799 for a package including the headset and controllers. The new price for the headset plus controller combo officially runs through August 20, so interested consumers will need to make their move in the next month. 

The new $399 price matches the cost of PlayStation's VR headset, though that price for the PSVR doesn't include the required controllers and sensors. Assuming you already own a PS4 and a PC capable of running virtual reality, the Oculus Rift is now the cheapest of the big three gaming VR headsets on the market. Since Oculus is owned by Facebook, selling their hardware at a loss isn't as big of a problem as it would be for more cash-strapped competitors. 

A new VR landscape

Immediate reaction to the surprise price cut has been mixed, with optimists claiming that the drop puts Oculus in a great position to win at least the next month of VR sales battles and skeptics pointing out that the move could be a sign that the company is having trouble selling its headset, or that they are clearing out inventory in advance of the launch of a hypothetical Rift 2.0. 

It's true that industry sales data has consistently placed Oculus behind the competition, so the company has a clear motivation to shake things up in a big way, and this price cut could certainly do that. The Rift struggled in 2016 (its first year on the market) in part because its lack of room-scale tracking and motion controls at launch often made it seem a step behind the Vive technologically (and served as the main reasons we named the Vive our 2016 VR headset of the year). But now that Oculus offers both room-scale tracking (with the purchase of an additional sensor) and motion controls that are arguably superior to the Vive's for some experiences, the two big PC VR headsets are on much more even footing. The fact that the Rift is now a full $400 cheaper than the Vive makes the choice between the two options more dramatic than ever before. 

Will it work? 

So, what do we think this move means for Oculus? The price cut is certainly exciting, and is likely to convert some would-be Vive purchasers into Rift adoptees, but it's always been true that games sell gaming hardware more than any other consideration. And when it comes to games, there's one big name in VR you need to know right now: Echo Arena. This Oculus-exclusive game, which is best described as "VR ultimate frisbee," has seen unprecedented buzz in the VR community during its two recent open betas, and will release on July 20 as a free title for all Rift owners.

Echo Arena is absolutely one of the most entertaining and revolutionary VR games we at GameCrate have ever played, and has enormous potential as a killer app to convert people to the Rift way of life. If consumers are skeptical of a new Rift 2.0 on the horizon there is always a chance this price cut doesn't change the VR landscape much, but between the substantial drop and the release of Echo Arena the rest 2017 could go very, very well for Oculus.

Check out the new $399 Oculus package on Newegg